Water is one of the most important influences of your coffee’s taste. Many things I discovered with coffee has completely transformed the way I look at all things in culinary. For example, I also bake bread, but I was never happy with the quality of the loaves I was baking. No matter what I did, every loaf had a distinct taste that made it obvious the bread was...how can I put it… Not “baker” made. Then after working with water for coffee, I decided to filter some of the hardness out of the water I was using. When I applied this to baking bread, the result was amazing. The bread was lighter and tasted almost buttery. I still have a few things to remedy before my bread is at the baker’s quality (like a misting oven, oven walls with low thermal conductivity, and higher specific heat) but I gotta say, my bread has definitely improved.
I realized that the reasons my coffee was lacking in intensity and flavor was probably the result of the same problem. Keep in mind, coffee is 98% water so its influence on the taste of your brew is really pivotal. I can’t promise pursuing perfection in water is easy, but it is incredibly rewarding and definitely interesting when you start tampering to get it just right.
We roast coffee in Raleigh, NC and in Riverside, California. The chemistries of water in these two cities are quite different.
To vastly improve the quality of your water, the best thing to use is a carbon/sediment filter. This filter will remove the taste of chlorine which most water authorities add to you tap. But trust me, getting exceptional water is a balancing act. Super pure distilled or reverse osmosis water doesn’t give the dissolving coffee anything to bind to, but too much of the TDS or hardness can get in the way of the taste of the coffee and block the coffee solubles from dissolving properly.
If you live in Riverside, the quickest fix is to brew with ⅓ tap water and ⅔ distilled water. In my next post, I’ll get into more detail on the complexities of how water effects the taste of your brew.