Best Type of Water to Make the Perfect Coffee

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Best Water Types for Brewing Coffee

So, you got yourself the coffee-maker you always wanted and you just bought some amazing beans and now you’re preparing to sit down and enjoy a delicious coffee. Hey, aren’t you forgetting something? How about the water? After all, that delicious cup of yours is 98% water!

Tap Water for Coffee

It’s a fact. Most people use tap water to make coffee. Why not since it’s readily available and you know it’s safe to drink?

There are many reasons why tap water is not always good for coffee. Depending on where you live, your tap water might be too salty or contain traces of various minerals which can alter the taste of your coffee, making it more acidic or metallic.

If they use chlorine to disinfect the water in your area, not only will your coffee taste funny, but it might also get that distinctly unpleasant odor.

Distilled and Purified Water for Coffee

OK, if tap water is not such a good idea, what should you use? What’s the deal with distilled water, for instance? Distilled water refers to water that is boiled until it turns into steam. During this process, minerals and metals which boil at much higher temperatures are basically left behind. The mineral-free steam is allowed to condense and what you get is distilled water.

Using additional filtration and sedimentation processes, the distilled water is cleaned of contaminants, bacteria, and other residual chemicals until it becomes what is known as purified water.

Purified water sounds great, doesn’t it? Perhaps for cleaning a wound, but not for coffee, as your brew needs some of those minerals.

Filtered Water For Coffee

Many people don’t trust their tap water and use filters. Whether you use a pitcher filter or a faucet-mounted one, the idea is the same, to clean the water of impurities and odors. As far as the water for your coffee is concerned the best option is a pitcher filter with an activated carbon filter.

If you do not use water filters, you could buy bottled water, but read the labels carefully. What you need is spring water, preferably with added magnesium. We’ll explain why later.

Why Water Hardness Matters For Brewing Coffee

Hard water is rich in dissolved minerals and ions, while soft water is stripped of most of those minerals, like the distilled water discussed earlier.

Hard water contains magnesium, calcium, and other carbonates, and you need plenty of those to extract all the flavors in the coffee beans.

Have you ever wondered about the magic behind coffee brewing? Well, it’s time for a chemistry lesson.

The Chemistry of Water in Coffee

All the flavor compounds in the grounds are soluble in water. Caffeine, too. Water molecules bond with the compounds in the grounds and carry them away into your cup!

Magnesium, for instance, sticks to a coffee compound called eugenol, which gives coffee very good taste, emphasizing sharp fruity flavors. On the other hand, calcium makes a coffee creamy and heavy-bodied.

You also want some carbonate in your water, as it soaks up acid and makes the coffee less acidic.
Many people say brewing coffee is an art, but as you can see it’s also science.

How To Choose The Best Water For Your Coffee

What do we have so far? We’ve established that the perfect water for coffee should be flavorless and odorless, which pretty much rules out plain tap water.

We’ve also rejected purified and distilled water, precisely because they are too pure and lack all the essential minerals.

This leaves us with filtered water, as it only cleans water of impurities and strange odors, but doesn’t do away with the good minerals.

Bottom line – to bring out the best in your beans use filtered water or bottled spring water.

The Ratio of Coffee to Water

Many people wonder about this, but we have a very exact answer 17,42 to 1, also called the Golden Ration. Who came up with this number? Well, experts in the coffee industry who say that for every tablespoon of coffee ground you should measure 17,42 tablespoons of water.

Can you see yourself all bleary-eyed at six in the morning trying to measure precisely 17,42 tablespoons of water? Neither can we! Fortunately, we can translate that to normal speak – the Golden Ration for a perfect coffee is 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for 6 fl oz of water.

Of course, you can adjust the ratio if the resulting brew doesn’t meet your expectations.

The Best Water Temperature to Brew the Perfect Coffee

Experts agree the best water temperature to brew your coffee is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you need to keep the water temperature below the boiling point, which is 212 degrees. Using colder water will result in under-extracted, flat coffee, whereas water that is too hot tends to ruin the natural flavors of the beans.

The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is also important. Too little time also leads to under-extraction, meaning some of the flavor compounds will be left in the coffee grounds. On the other hand, if you brew your coffee too much time some not very tasty compounds will accumulate in the coffee, making it harsh and bitter.

Must-Know Water Tips

Let’s do a recap of all the things we’ve covered so far to help you select the best water and brew some delicious strong coffee.

  • Tap water can give strange flavors or nasty odors to your coffee
  • Use filtered water whenever possible or at least a mineral-laden bottled water
  • Keep purified soft water away from your beans
  • Do not use boiling water or it will ruin the taste
  • Always keep in mind the Golden Ration – two tablespoons of coffee grounds to six fluid ounces of water.

Bonus: Tips to Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

  • Buy the best coffee within your budget
  • Don’t buy bulk, as the beans will lose freshness
  • Store your beans in an airtight container in a cool dark place
  • Don’t grind more coffee than you need for one pot
  • Don’t use cheap filters for your machine. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters
  • Take care of your coffee maker and clean it regularly
  • Don’t leave your coffee pot on a hot plate as heat will make it taste bitter

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