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WATER TREATMENT FOR SPECIALTY COFFEE AND DRIP BREW

Coffee is 98% Water, so what is the ideal water for coffee?

IN PURSUIT OF PERFECT WATER FOR COFFEE? WATERWISE CAN HELP

IDEAL WATER FOR SPECIALTY COFFEE

Coffee is 98% water, the rest being the mass of extracted soluble brewed solids (Coffee!). Therefore, the quality of water and its ability to carry flavor truly determines the difference between a great coffee, merely good coffee and a disappointing experience. Specialty coffee requires precise water treatment to highlight the unique flavors and aromas of the coffee beans. Therefore, the more we understand about the mineral composition and the chemicals present in the water we are using, the better equipped we are to bring out the best flavor potential in our brew. The water's mineral content, pH, chemical composition, and overall purity play a significant role in extracting the desired flavors from the coffee grounds. Here's a general guideline for the ideal water treatment for specialty coffee:

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REMOVING MINERAL CONTENT FROM WATER

CARBONATE HARDNESS


The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) specifies a carbonate or temporary hardness between 2 and 4 grains per gallon of hardness. Too little Carbonate Hardness and you have sour, weak, sharp coffee – too much and your coffee will exhibit a chalky and flat flavor profile.

TOTAL HARDNESS


The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) specifies a carbonate or temporary hardness between 2 and 4 grains per gallon of hardness. Too little Carbonate Hardness and you have sour, weak, sharp coffee – too much and your coffee will exhibit a chalky and flat flavor profile.

CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM


These minerals are crucial for extracting coffee flavors. Calcium levels around 30 ppm and magnesium levels around 10 ppm are often considered optimal. These minerals help with proper extraction and contribute to a balanced flavor profile.

TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS (TDS)


TDS refers to the concentration of minerals and other dissolved substances in water. For specialty coffee, TDS levels between 150 to 200 parts per million (ppm) are often recommended. This range provides enough minerals to aid in the extraction process without overwhelming the coffee's natural flavors.

Adjusting Water pH Level


The pH of water can influence coffee extraction. Ideally, the pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5 although some “brighter” flavor profiles prefer slightly acidic water. This range ensures that the coffee's acids and flavors are properly extracted without leading to excessive bitterness or sourness.

Water Purity


Water should be free from impurities that cause off-putting taste or odors. Chief among these would be Chlorine and chloramine. Commonly found in tap water, these compounds should be removed as they can negatively impact flavor profiles. Using water filters that remove these compounds is essential.

COFFEE WATER FILTRATION SYSTEMS

"Your coffee will never be better than your water." - Alton Brown​

WaterWise offers water filtration solutions for coffee shops and commercial coffee roasters. We have solutions for break rooms to SCA spec coffee competitors. We will also protect the rest of the equipment in your shop including ice machines.

 

WaterWise has worked extensively in developing the best products to prevent equipment breakdown. See our list of Products to protect your specialty coffee equipment.  ​

COMMON COFFEE WATER TREATMENT METHODS

ION EXCHANGE RESINS


Weak acid cation exchange resins are a type of ion exchange resin used in water treatment processes, particularly in water softening applications. These resins are designed to remove hardness ions, primarily calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+), from water by exchanging them with hydrogen ions (H+).


Here's how weak acid cation resins work for water softening:


BRING RESIN INTO CONTACT WITH HARD WATER

 

When hard water (water containing Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions) meets the resin, the calcium and magnesium ions in the water are attracted to the negatively charged groups on the resin beads.

ION EXCHANGE

 

The calcium and magnesium ions in the water bind to the resin's carboxylic acid groups, displacing the hydrogen ions that were originally on the resin. The simple way to look at this is the resin is giving up Hydrogen ions and exchange them for  Calcium (Ca2+) and Magnesium (mg2+) ions in a similar manner to the way salt based water softeners work.

SOFTENED WATER

 

As the ion exchange continues, the resin becomes loaded with calcium and magnesium ions while releasing hydrogen ions into the water. The water leaving the resin bed is now softened because the hardness ions have been removed.

REPLENISHMENT

Over time, the resin becomes exhausted and can no longer effectively exchange hardness ions. Large capacity resin tanks can be exchanged, and the resin regenerated but disposable Sanitary Quick Cartridges or Drop-In Cartridges must be replaced at this point. To regenerate the resin and restore its capacity, a solution of a strong acid (typically hydrochloric acid, HCl) is passed through the resin bed. The strong acid displaces the calcium and magnesium ions on the resin, replacing them with hydrogen ions, and the hardness ions are flushed away.

 

Weak acid cation exchange resins are called "weak" because they exchange hydrogen ions (H+) for hardness ions (Ca2+ and Mg2+), whereas strong acid cation exchange resins exchange sodium ions (Na+) for hardness ions. Weak acid cation resins are often preferred in applications where the release of sodium ions into the water is a concern, such as in food and beverage processing or for people on low-sodium diets.

2) REVERSE OSMOSIS (RO) FILTRATION

 

Reverse osmosis (RO) works like a super-fine filter for water. Imagine a filter with incredibly tiny holes that only let water molecules through while blocking out almost everything else including salts, minerals, chemicals, and even tiny particles. RO filtration can help reduce TDS levels and remove impurities, providing a blank canvas for mineral adjustments. However, RO water can be too "soft" and lack the necessary minerals for proper extraction. Therefore, it's often necessary to remineralize or blend with higher mineral water with the RO water to achieve the desired TDS and mineral content.

 

MINERAL ADDITIONS

 

Depending on your source water and the desired TDS, you might need to add minerals back into the water. This can be done using commercially available mineral additives specifically designed for coffee brewing. These range from simple Calcite additives like the WaterWise “MINUP” cartridge to more advanced, proprietary blends such as the WaterWise “REMIN” that include flavor enhancing compounds like Magnesium.

WATER TESTING

 

To fine-tune your water treatment, consider testing the mineral content, pH, and overall quality of your water both before and after water treatment systems. Water testing kits are available for assessing Carbonate Hardness, Total Hardness, TDS, pH, Chlorine, and other factors.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

 

Consistency is key in specialty coffee. Experimentation and adjustments might be necessary to achieve the perfect water composition that brings out the best in your specialty coffee beans. Remember that water treatment for specialty coffee can vary based on factors such as coffee bean origin, roast level, and personal taste preferences.

 

Once you've determined the ideal water profile for your coffee, make sure to maintain it consistently to reproduce the desired flavors. It should be noted that source water may change and shift due to seasonality (municipality and private wells) and appropriate adjustments may need to be made accordingly.

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THE WATERWISE STORY

WaterWise is an industry leading Water Filtration and Purification Equipment Supplier with a wide range of solutions to keep all of your equipment connected and protected.

 

Established in 2015, WaterWise has developed critical partnerships with viable component manufacturers to bring you the best available technology at the most affordable prices. Located near Knoxville, Tennessee with stocking distributors covering North America, we inventory a wide range of components and systems from this location to all points of the market. 

WaterWise would like to be your single source supplier and will work diligently to earn your business. Our experienced staff is ready and available to meet all of your water treatment needs. 

MARKET SEGMENTS

Find specific water treatment options for your business by reviewing the appropriate segment below. 

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Automotive

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Commercial Laundry

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Brewing

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Coffee Shop

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Find water treatment products to protect all of the equipment in your coffee shop.

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To locate an authorized service dealer, or order replenishment cartridges, please contact us today via our website or call 866.551.0510

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