Looking for advice for poor water quality - Jacksonville, FL

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
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mattrox217

#1: Post by mattrox217 »

Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

First, here is my municipal water quality report. I live in the Major Grid and off of the McDuff treatment plant. https://www.jea.com/About/Water_Supply/ ... 18_Report/

Those of you with more knowledge will get more out of this report than I can, but with my limited understanding and research, the biggest issues shown here are a hardness level of 256ppm and a Chloride level of 329ppm.

I have a Lelit Bianca and a Niche Zero on the way next month and want to use this time to get my water treatment done properly. I'm currently using Distilled Water and Third Wave packets for my breville machine, however it's my goal to get the Bianca on a water line. It was my original plan to get the BST Bestmax filtration system, but I believe that with my high Chloride levels, this will be insufficient, is this correct?

I'm now thinking that I need to get a RO system and then remineralize this before it hits my machine. I have seen the HomeMaster RO system recommended here. This appears to remineralize the purified water through their filters. Is this system acceptable or should I try to get a separate RO system and remineralize based on recognized coffee water mineralization recipes?

Thanks for your time and any advice you can share.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#2: Post by homeburrero »

That water looks pretty awful. Note that it says chloride is in the range of 9 - 329 ppm, so it's not completely clear that it averages high, but it's a good bet that it does average well over 50 ppm. The bestmax will do nothing to reduce that chloride, so you'll probably need to go with RO.

I'm not an RO expert, but for you I think that Homemaster full contact seems a reasonable choice. It uses a crushed marble remineralizer that should be relatively consistent. You can't expect the high mineral content that some people tend to recommend for coffee water, but should get a hardness and alkalinity in the 30-60 ppm as CaCO3 ballpark. Non-scaling, non-corrosive for machine health, and in my opinion just fine for taste.

If you want to go nuts about experimenting with minerals and taste, and still want to plumb in, I think you'll want to use water carboys that you fill with RO or purified water that you mineralize yourself with potassium bicarb and maybe magnesium sulfate, and plumb that in with something like a flojet system.
Pat
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wachuko

#3: Post by wachuko »

Great thread. We are building our retirement home in Ocala and I can't find a similar report to determine what system to install...

The first thing I want to install is a complete water filtration system for the whole house....

I am going to have to call Marion county offices to check.

Subscribed to see what you end up with.
Searching for that perfect espresso!

Wachuko - LMWDP #654

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hankua

#4: Post by hankua »

I'm also in the Jacksonville area and have been using a Everpure ESO-7 for several years after seeing it in use at local coffee shops. I think the version with a balance adjustment might work better in our area. My setup is portable, I use it for other purposes and fill up carboys or glass gallon jugs. Before that I used Glacier Water from Publix, which tests out very well.

Florida water drawn from the aquifer has high mineral content (alkalinity), @300ppm is normal for the our area. The things to be concerned with JEA water are; alkalinity, p.H., chlorine, and TTHM's. My understanding about high chlorine is it's set for the end of the water line, folks living closer can end up with a high test result. At my old job in the beverage industry we tested for all of these thing, except out source was several 8" artesian wells on the property and injected a small amount of chlorine for different purposes/areas.

I don't trust JEA TTHM reports, at my job we did them weekly on our own GC's.

Ciaran

#5: Post by Ciaran »

mattrox217 - I believe the range in Chloride has something to do with 113 potential source wells within the Major Grid water system - as noted on the website. You should test the water at your location. And then continue to monitor closely if the chloride levels are that high.

I would recommend installing an RO system with a pressure pump. An Insufficient pressure differential across the membranes can lead to chloride passing through the membrane.

And an ESO-7 is a weak acid cation exchange media filter. It works by acidifying the water so that the scale will not precipitate out at temperature. Not only does this do nothing to remove chlorides from water, but it can also actually make water corrosive. Use with caution.

FYI, groundwater does not usually contain much chlorine - a disinfectant. Chloride, on the other hand, is one half a NaCl ionic compound, and 60% by mass. Commonly found in seawater, holes in boilers and on dinner tables everywhere.

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mattrox217

#6: Post by mattrox217 »

Thanks everyone for your responses. I've been doing research on my own as well and I believe I've landed on the "Home Master TMAFC-ERP-L Artesian Full Contact with Permeate Pump Loaded Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System system. This system also re-mineralizes the purified water some, but as homeburrero pointed out, the output is a little on the low end on the SCA recommended mineral levels, though, as Ciaran also pointed out, it does have a pump included which is a plus. I did find a replacement carbon filter for this system that appears to raise the mineral levels closer to what I'm going for. Here is that filter SKU: IFG5-10-PH_PLUS : https://www.theperfectwater.com/Inline- ... acity.html

I'm going to try to get in touch with The Perfect Water company to see what kind of PPM readings they think I should expect using this carbon filter rather than the filter that comes with the TMAFC.

I also found the BWT Bestmin https://www.bwt-wam.com/en/Products/Pag ... WTGROUP%29 which is also designed to remineralize RO'd water. My next step here is to see if this or the "PH PLUS" from The Perfect Water would get me closer to what I'm going for.

I'll continue to update this thread as I get closer to finding a solution that works for me.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#7: Post by homeburrero »

mattrox217 wrote:I'm going to try to get in touch with The Perfect Water company to see what kind of PPM readings they think I should expect using this carbon filter rather than the filter that comes with the TMAFC.
Good idea, let us know. I was under the impression that the TMAFC came with that IFG5-10-PH_PLUS finishing/remin filter. Ask them if it's a simple crushed marble filter, or if it contains Corosex or some other MgO mineral. In my opinion you are better off without the MgO even though it can deliver more mineral and a higher pH. Plain crushed marble should be more consistent.

Also, I'm curious why you think 30-60 mg/L of hardness and alkalinity isn't good enough? If you are influenced by the old "150 mg/L TDS" target or the 68 mg/L calcium hardness recommended by the legacy SCAA standard, I think you may want to revisit. A lot of espresso folks favor softer water, and some recent blind taste tests favor softer water.* Your somewhat soft remineralized water would be good for machine health and I think should also produce fine tasting espresso.


* For one reputable example, check out page 20 of this Cafe Europa magazine: http://scae.com/images/caffee-europa/CE61.pdf .
They tested two coffees using waters at three different hardness and alkalinity levels, and found little difference in taste, tending to get better scores for the water with the lowest hardness and alkalinity.
Pat
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mattrox217

#8: Post by mattrox217 »

homeburrero wrote:Also, I'm curious why you think 30-60 mg/L of hardness and alkalinity isn't good enough? If you are influenced by the old "150 mg/L TDS" target or the 68 mg/L calcium hardness recommended by the legacy SCAA standard, I think you may want to revisit. A lot of espresso folks favor softer water, and some recent blind taste tests favor softer water.* Your somewhat soft remineralized water would be good for machine health and I think should also produce fine tasting espresso.
I guess that's exactly what I was doing - focusing on the old target and the 50-175 ppm CaCO3 referenced here by the SCA. I'm also thinking that for my pourover coffee (which I have been heavily into for years), I use the Third Wave water packets with distilled water and I saw an incredible change in flavor as a result of that. Of course pourover kettles are much more resistant to scaling and are much easier to clean so the high(er) minerals won't affect equipment much if at all.

However, it seems like what I should do for now is go for the TMAFC-ERP-L and if I really feel like I'm missing out on something, I can look into a remineralizing filter that would get me higher hardness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Ciaran

#9: Post by Ciaran »

I am by wrong, but I believe that old SCA brewing standard for water you linked to is misstated. I think the hardness range referenced was actually referring to TDS, as they make a note about using 4-4-2 scale for measurement but don't list a TDS range.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#10: Post by homeburrero »

Ciaran wrote:I am by wrong, but I believe that old SCA brewing standard for water you linked to is misstated. I think the hardness range referenced was actually referring to TDS, as they make a note about using 4-4-2 scale for measurement but don't list a TDS range.
The old SCAA standard from 2009 did have a TDS target of 150 ppm, and purportedly based that on a conductivity reading with a 4-4-2 calibrated TDS meter, although it doesn't explicitly say that in the published handbook. If they had used an NaCl calibrated meter like inexpensive ones in wide use today it would have read more like 115 ppm. Not many people are aware of that - I think even the TWW folks tuned their mix to a conductivity that comes out around 150 ppm on an NaCl calibrated meter.

The SCA standard that Matthew (mattrox217) referenced is a newer one from the SCA (https://sca.coffee/research/coffee-standards) but does have problems:
Image

(This standard is also published in the 2018 SCA Coffee Standards booklet)

As you point out, it has that note about TDS. I believe that's just an accidental carryover from verbiage in some existing SCAA online advice. The new SCA guidance does not recommend any particular TDS. The table above also mistakenly says "50 - 175 ppm Calcium Hardness". This is also probably an accidental carryover from the old SCAA verbiage which did specify that hardness be calcium hardness. The newer SCA handbook is based on SCAE research that does not favor calcium over magnesium hardness. In fact their allowance for this high hardness being possibly desirable is based partly on the Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood work, which tends to favor magnesium.

The 2018 SCA water quality handbook has no recommendation for TDS, and in the in the final chapter does recommend a "... total hardness of between 50 - 175 ppm CaCO3 (2.9 - 9.8 °d)" (emphasis mine)

That hardness range is for coffee brewing, not necessarily for espresso machines. Earlier in the book they discuss their ideal zone for espresso, which is represented by the 'SCAE Core zone' in this chart. That zone depends on alkalinity and tops out at a point where total hardness is about 110 mg/L CaCO3 equivalent.
Pat
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