Making water for coffee – Part 1 – Introduction

I’m not going to bore you with every small bit of detail here about what makes good water for coffee, there are loads of resources out there that I have read, taken in and been inspired by. If you are interested then the following have been my go to sites/articles

Chris Hendon and the Colonna family’s paper of the roles of dissolved cations (and Maxwell taking the time out to answer my questions personally!)

Jim Schulman’s Insanely Long Water FAQ

Five Senses Water Article (although this inspired me to make my own water I don’t agree with the specific recipe used here however the method is what I based mine on)

Some good info on calcs can be found here

There is a lot of info on water from the beer brewing community and this site was particularly useful to me

The Coffee Forums UK

And of course the SCAA’s Water Quality Guide

There are probably hundreds more sites that I trawled through whilst researching the subject but these were the ones that I used and referred back to most frequently.

So why would you want to create your own brewing water I hear you ask!?

Well I live in Birmingham, UK and the tap water hear is not great for brewing speciality coffee. It has very low hardness and alkalinity values and results in a very dull and tasteless beverage. There is a lot of discussion about how to filter water to optimise it for coffee but most of these conversations revolve around taking elements out of the water or swapping them for ones less harmful to coffee machines. The problem is that if there’s nothing there to remove or swap then the only real option is to use bottled water.

So what’s wrong with bottled water?

On the whole the correct bottled water is ok for coffee, it’s certainly better than my tap water but then again that’s not hard. There are issues with bottled water in that it rarely represents ideal specs for brewing coffee, the contents of the bottle don’t usually match the label on the bottle and each bottle of the same brand water can even be different in composition as it comes from natural sources.

What’s the answer?

For me the answer was to attempt to make my own water starting from scratch that would provide me with somethings consistent and useable for brewing coffee at home and work and after about 3 months of testing, that’s what I’ve managed to achieve. The results have been testing and methods time-consuming but ultimately a highly rewarding process. It has also given me a much greater understanding of many brewing methods and in a much happier coffee place as a result.

This post will be split out into sections and I’ll detail the methods and kit that I used to get to where I am.
The sections will eventually be

Making water for coffee – Part 2 – Additions
Making water for coffee – Part 3 – Optimising RO/Distilled Water
Making water for coffee – Part 4 – Optimising Bottled Water

Please note that I have a new and improved method for making water for brewing coffee here.

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