Figuring out water for new espresso setup

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.

#1: Post by schomin »

Hi all,

I've been a home enthusiast for over 10 years now. Recently I've been trying to pay closer attention to water for filter coffee and now have a Linea Mini coming in next week and want to make sure I have the right water specs going into that as well. Luckily we are on a well and with some whole house sediment filtering I think we fall close to the SCA water spec range (see test results below). My primary concern is not knowing what minerals make up the TDS number so I was curious what others thoughts are here. I plan to do some taste tests with our well water, TWW, and some custom batches using the Barista hustle recipes ( ... pes-redux/) but I'm also curious to see if others are able to tell the difference between more targeted mixtures vs water that just falls in the TDS range.

The test results for our well water are:

Iron: 0.1ppm (not sure how big of an issue this is, it falls below recommendations and has no noticeable taste impact)
PH: 7.0
Hardness: 4 grains
TDS: 61ppm

Ideally I would like to plumb in the Linea Mini so if I can get away with using the well water I think that would be ideal. It seems like if that doesn't work though mixing up my own water may be the best alternative option, unless others have reasonably priced RO+remin (or maybe even just remin) options that have worked for them consistently.

Thanks for any input.


#2: Post by thecoffeefield »

I like using distilled water and third wave water or Perfect Cup


#3: Post by coffeeOnTheBrain »

Hardness seems to be at a good level.
Now I would try to figure out the alkalinity of the water. It should be at a similar level like general hardness.
You can also check SO4 and Cl levels for machine saftey and taste, but with a TDS of 61ppm there is probably not much to worry about, maybe depending on how you measured the TDS, but I don't know Jack about measuring TDS.
La Marzocco provides max values for machine safety.
If you want to go the custom water route I would recommend rPavlis water, as that is what is most tested here in the forum and seems to enable one to even skip descaling forever.

schomin (original poster)

#4: Post by schomin (original poster) » replying to coffeeOnTheBrain »

All of the values for the well water were measured by the well company shortly after we moved into the house. So I would hope they are pretty accurate. I am planning to have some additional testing done for alkalinity as well as a couple of other items.

For the custom water route I will definitely check out the rPavlis recipe and compare with others.

Thanks for the info!

Supporter ♡

#5: Post by bobkat »

If you want to go the custom water route I would recommend rPavlis water, as that is what is most tested here in the forum and seems to enable one to even skip descaling forever.
+1 on what Nino said.

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Team HB

#6: Post by homeburrero »

If you trust those test results, then your tap water is probably good to use after filtration with a simple carbon (GAC or carbon block) and particulates filter. With that 4 gpg (68 ppm as CaCO3) hardness you may have some scaling in the steam boiler depending on the alkalinity, which you can measure. The quick and easy way is to use an inexpensive API GH & KH kit, which you can find online or in a local aquarium shop. If you find yourself a vial or container that holds a 10 ml water sample, use that instead of the supplied 5 ml test tube and do your test on a 10 ml sample. That way each drop of titrant corresponds to 8.9 ppm as CaCO3, which gives you twice the precision.

Then if the GH and KH numbers are high enough to cause scale issues, then you might consider a decarbonizing filter on a bypass head (like the BWT bestmax, Everpure Claris Ultra, Mavea Quell, etc) to drop the hardness, alkalinity, and pH down to non-scaling levels. You would use it with a high bypass, and these filters take care of the particulates + carbon filtration.

The other thing to possibly consider is the chloride ion. As Nino (coffeeOnTheBrain) said, if your TDS is actually around 60 ppm and your hardness is around 70 ppm, and since the water is from a Boulder area well, then it's unlikely that you have high chloride. If you still want to worry about that you can get it tested, or test it yourself with a drop titration kit from Hach. If chloride ion is high (as in 15 - 50 ppm) then you are looking at either RO + remin to get rid of it, or otherwise making water from distilled plus minerals and using the reservoir or plumbing from an external carboy.
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