Have you ever gone to a coffee shop and had a delicious cup of coffee only to create the same one at home and have it not taste as good?
You might be using the wrong type of water to brew your coffee with.
Wait. Wrong type of water?
There are numerous things that can change the way your coffee tastes. Water is just one of those things. Get it wrong, and you don't get the best flavor. It's pretty simple: if you wouldn't drink a glass of it, don't use it to make your coffee.
So, what kind of water can you use?
Filtered Tap Water
- Be sure your filtered tap water is free of chlorine.
- Is clean.
- Is clear.
- And is odor-free.
Those are pretty much the basic water brewing guidelines set by the SCAA for the best cup of coffee.
What If I Have Hard Water or Use a Water Softener?
Hard water is measured by the amount of magnesium and calcium that is found dissolved in the water. Some find that water with these two minerals in it makes the best cup of coffee. That's because magnesium and calcium (magnesium in particular) are great at bringing out the best in coffee flavoring compounds.
By comparison, water that replaces those minerals with sodium (softened water) will produce a cup of coffee that is flat. However, if you enjoy the flavor of your softened water, just brew a pot using hard water and one with soft water to see which one you like the best.
If you do use hard water for brewing, just remember to descale your coffee maker every so often to remove any mineral buildup that can also affect the taste of your coffee. If you have an espresso maker, it can actually destroy your equipment if you use hard water. So, be aware.
If you need to, you can always brew your coffee with bottled water. However, bottled water can vary wildly in mineral content, pH and suitability for coffee.
Your best options for bottled water are going to be labeled drinking water or spring water. You may have to try a couple different brands to find one that you like.
Can I Use Reverse Osmosis Water?
That's tricky because reverse osmosis water actually removes all mineral content from the water. There's basically nothing left in it, so using this for your coffee will make a flat tasting cup.
However, there are blending reverse osmosis systems that will add minerals back into the water. If you can find one of those, that would be good. If not, don't use it.
Good water is a crucial component of getting the most out of a coffee. If you enjoy the coffee you are brewing at home, there's no need to mess with your water unless you want to try something different.
If you can’t figure out why your coffee is not tasting like it would at a coffee shop, then your water might be something worth looking into.