Coffee 101: Water

Pure water is essential for quality coffee. One of the most commonly voiced complaints we’ve heard about home brewed coffee goes something like this:

“No matter what blend of coffee I taste at your coffee shop, it’s always excellent. But when I purchase that same coffee and brew it at home, it never tastes as good.

“What am I doing wrong?”

Our answer: Good coffee begins with good water.

What you may not realize is that the quality of your home tap water – even if it’s safe and tastes fine drawn cold from the tap – is probably the cause for those “odd” and unpleasant flavors that mysteriously emerge in your daily home brew. Especially as it’s heated.

The remedy for this brewing quandry is most often very simple and surprisingly affordable. It can be solved with the purchase of a home water filtration system.

There are five general causes of poor quality water: minerals, algae, sediment, chemical contamination and chlorine… each of which will impart a range of flavors described as “harsh, muddy, acidic, bitter, chemical, metallic, or dirty.” These off flavors become harshest as water reaches its boiling point. Furthermore the SCAA has studied the effects of calcium and magnesium as the react with coffee itself and produce additional flavors. 

When water is filtered, it ideally becomes odorless and “tasteless,” (think about your favorite bottled water), though many of us prefer a specific bottled water based upon some taste preference.

The neutral qualities of filtered water make a perfect base to allow the natural flavors of fine coffee or tea to “blossom” in the cup without the interference of “off flavors” imparted by unfiltered water.

The good news is that convenient manual water filtration systems that use a pitcher with a filter (Brita and PUR are best recognized) can be purchased at many grocery, home goods and department stores for as little as $30.

Of course, you may decide to opt for a top-quality home filtration. Most home owners can install an efficient under-counter, on-demand kitchen system for between $75 to $200 the good thing about these systems is that the filters last longer and are less expensive than well know conventional brands.

You’ll find dozens of options online or from a visit to your local home improvement store. If you’re still unsure about your first step, then start with the major names in water filtration, which include: Aqua-Pure, Brita, Culligan, Everpure, GE, and PUR.

Whatever your choice, we wager that you’ll taste the difference with your first home-brewed cup of coffee using fresh, clear, filtered water.