Good references on water treatment for coffee/espresso

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
RyanJE
Posts: 1052
Joined: June 25th, 2015

Postby RyanJE » May 24, 2016, 7:27 pm

Hello All,

Since we don't have a dedicated section for water, I am starting a thread where we can share reference materials on the subject. I am by no means an expert, anything but. However, I recently discovered the importance of water and how it can significantly impact brewed coffee and espresso. Not only does it have a great effect on taste, it also influences required maintenance on equipment. This is just a start, please add solid reference material / links as you see fit!

SCAA water standards
http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=water-standards

SCAE water paper - thanks homeburrero
http://scae.com/images/pdfs/SCAE-water-chart-report.pdf

Jims Insanely long water FAQ
http://web.archive.org/web/200805260723 ... erfaq.html

La Marzocco water calculator
http://techcenter.lamarzocco.com/jsp/Te ... ulator.jsp

Brewing water chemistry calculator
http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

Langelier Index Calculator
http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/resource ... /langlier/

James Hoffmann write up
http://www.jimseven.com/2010/11/28/fear-of-water/

Five senses study and 70/30 water
https://www.fivesenses.com.au/blog/expe ... on-coffee/

70/30 recipe here
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... EohMr3Orzg

Here is a short video summarizing some of the important factors
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsZ-ux2bEp0

At home test kits for Hardness and Alkalinity
http://www.amazon.com/Hach-145300-Total ... detailpage

http://www.amazon.com/API-Carbonate-Har ... detailpage


I hope this is a decent start of somewhere to centralize water related questions.
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....

nuketopia
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Joined: March 8th, 2016

Postby nuketopia » May 24, 2016, 7:48 pm

I've been giving some thought to writing an insanely short water faq.

If you're lucky, your tap water is ideal for making coffee and espresso. If Aqua Panna or Crystal Geyser Alpine spring water from Calistoga drips from your faucet, you're in luck.

If you're lucky enough to have very soft water with no bad minerals in it, then all you need to do is add some calcium carbonate to it.

For everyone else, it becomes a matter of:

1. De-mineralize the water with something like R.O., making it ultra soft.

2. Make the water hard again with mostly calcium carbonate and possibly some small amounts of other minerals until it reaches the proper level of carbonate hardness, PH and TDS.

The hard part is number 2.

CathyWeeks
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Joined: April 26th, 2016

Postby CathyWeeks » May 25, 2016, 8:42 am

nuketopia wrote:Make the water hard again with mostly calcium carbonate and possibly some small amounts of other minerals until it reaches the proper level of carbonate hardness, PH and TDS.


I wonder how safe aquarium chemicals are? Fish are notoriously easy to kill, so my guess (not that I want to be a guinea pig or am recommending this) is that they probably aren't dangerous to humans.

RyanJE
Posts: 1052
Joined: June 25th, 2015

Postby RyanJE » May 25, 2016, 8:46 am

CathyWeeks wrote:I wonder how safe aquarium chemicals are? Fish are notoriously easy to kill, so my guess (not that I want to be a guinea pig or am recommending this) is that they probably aren't dangerous to humans.


Or you could make the 70/30 water. Its just Mag Sulfate and Baking Soda in distilled water.
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....

CathyWeeks
Posts: 211
Joined: April 26th, 2016

Postby CathyWeeks » May 25, 2016, 9:02 am

RyanJE wrote:Or you could make the 70/30 water. Its just Mag Sulfate and Baking Soda in distilled water.


I'm considering it. I have a R/O unit that my father-in-law just returned to us (he's moving) that we bought eons ago when we were setting up a soft-water discus tank. I don't know if it still works, or if it needs maintenance or the like, though. I'll probably just get some distilled water to start.

OldNuc
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Joined: January 2nd, 2014

Postby OldNuc » May 25, 2016, 11:15 am

I would suggest reading all of the rpavils commentary on coffee water as it is based on solid chemical principals. I see that search did not make the list.

nuketopia
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Joined: March 8th, 2016

Postby nuketopia » May 25, 2016, 11:56 am

CathyWeeks wrote:I wonder how safe aquarium chemicals are? Fish are notoriously easy to kill, so my guess (not that I want to be a guinea pig or am recommending this) is that they probably aren't dangerous to humans.



I would only use food grade minerals and chemicals intended for human consumption.

RyanJE wrote:Or you could make the 70/30 water. Its just Mag Sulfate and Baking Soda in distilled water.


I think that's a common formula for purified drinking water - like commercially bottled water, Dasani and the like.

Global Customized Waters supplies RO + remineralization systems to coffee shops all over the world. They take the RO water and use a two stage mixture of solutions of calcium chloride in the first step, and a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate in the second addition. The two react in dilute solutions in pure water to form calcium, sodium, bicarbonates, chloride and potassium ions. You can do this at home and make the concentrates yourself with pickle-crisp (calcium chloride) for the first mixture, and the bicarbonates (baking soda - readily available, you can order potassium carbonate food grade on Amazon). You just make the concentrates, then add them in two steps to a large volume of distilled or RO water. The only downside is that you wind up with some chloride ions.

If you believe the likes of La Marzocco and others, what you want is calcium carbonate hardness, with a minimal sulfate and little/no chlorides.

http://lamarzoccousa.com/docs/tb/LMUSA-Water-Spec.pdf

I'm in the same boat. My tap water is too hard to use and when I tested it, it has way more chloride than recommended. Even blending with RO water from my RO system, I don't arrive with a proper balance of mineralization, at least the way La Marzocco sees it.

I looked into putting an inline mineralization cartridge after the RO system. They are somewhat unpredictable in the amount of calcium carbonate they can add and at most, only add a few points. Not enough to really get where it needs to be.

Calcium carbonate is funny stuff. It is only slightly soluble in water. It dissolves more readily in cold water than hot, and it forms bicarbonate from the dissolved CO2 in distilled or RO water. Heating it drives off the bicarbonate converting it to carbonates - which is exactly how scale forms.

One simple trick - is if your tap water is simply hard, but doesn't have a bad mineral composition, just boil it, let it rest and pour it off the scale or precipitate that it leaves behind. That boiled water will not scale your boiler as all the temporary hardness has been precipitated. If it has a good balance of minerals, without too much salt or sulfate, you have coffee water.

RyanJE
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Joined: June 25th, 2015

Postby RyanJE » May 25, 2016, 1:34 pm

nuketopia wrote:I think that's a common formula for purified drinking water - like commercially bottled water, Dasani and the like.


Careful because bottled water varies significantly between brands and types, even locations where sold. If you look close enough on those bottles, they say where the water actually came from, usually a water source near by (likely to minimize shipping costs). Meaning, bottled water in California is going to be totally different than bottled water on the east coast.

EVEN when you can obtain some type of water analysis (as available on the gerber water and nestle pure life) its not very accurate. I tested many different bottled waters personally. While Gerber and Nestle are close to their "spec" the water was still harder and had higher alkalinity than the max stated limit.
I drink two shots before I drink two shots, then I drink two more....

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[creative nickname]
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Postby [creative nickname] » May 25, 2016, 4:34 pm

I second the recommendation to read Robert Pavilis's posts. They taught me a great deal about water chemistry for coffee.

Currently I like using a mix of magnesium sulphate and potassium bicarbonate to remineralize my distilled water. I use ratios that are close to the 70/30 recommendations, and use the same water for brewing, pulling shots, and making tea. It doesn't scale, it is easy to formulate, and it tastes great.
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Zoey
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Postby Zoey » May 27, 2016, 3:00 am


 
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