Optimal Water Quality - Page 2

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

Postby 8899 » May 15, 2018, 12:34 pm

I bought my LMLM earlier this year and did a bunch of research on water before I put any water into the machine. I immediately ruled out city tap water because both flouride and chloramines are not good for you...nor your coffee [flame suit on]. So my options were Fiji, Zero Water or Deer Park. After extensive testing the Deer Park had the characteristics that best matched the recommendations from La Marzocco.

Whichever route you choose, just make sure you stick with it from day one. Don't ever substitute another water type for the one you have decided is your go-to water. Your LMLM will thank you for that over the years.


Postby AgileMJOLNIR » May 15, 2018, 2:15 pm

Thanks for all the replies so far everyone.

Since I'll be running off the LMLM's reservoir I see that on La Marzoccos website they recommend Crystal geyser for those of us like me on the West Coast and then Acqua Panna. I'd imagine these would be safe solutions since they are OEM recommended. I'm just trying to find the most logical solution that will yield the best results. Seems like the 2 botled water solutions above might be the best or at least easiest alternative?

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Postby homeburrero » May 15, 2018, 3:38 pm

dale_cooper wrote:However, is all distilled water or RO water the same? My grocery sells RO water where you can fill your own jug for 39cents.

They aren't quite the same. Distilled water is generally very pure. ZeroWater is also relatively pure; it's usually 1-2 ppm, and at 6 ppm you know to change the filter. RO varies depending on the efficiency of the unit and the mineral content of the incoming water. I believe the RO stations at the grocery store run in the 5 - 50 ppm range. (I understand some of them have a TDS monitor on the output and shut the unit down if it goes as high as 50ppm.) You can always check your grocery store water with a cheap TDS meter - that's one thing they are very good for.

For me, I would use RO, distilled, or ZeroWater without worrying about the 30 ppm or so difference - is pretty negligible if I'm spiking the water with minerals. And there is little to worry about with respect to chloride, sulfate, silica, etc - even if the incoming water is high in those minerals they will be reduced to insignificant levels after RO treatment.

AgileMJOLNIR wrote:Since I'll be running off the LMLM's reservoir I see that on La Marzoccos website they recommend Crystal geyser for those of us like me on the West Coast and then Acqua Panna.

A lot of earlier comments also mentioned Crystal Geyser. Take care with that as the Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water may come from any one of six very different sources. Even on the west coast you have the Weed/Mt Shasta (soft) and the Olancha Peak (not soft). I think either would work fine, although the Weed source is way below the LM recommendation for hardness. I think that's OK, even preferable if you don't ever want to descale your machine. (Eric Svendson posted a nice summary table of CG Alpine Spring waters here: Blonding too fast. Profitec 700.)

Acqua Panna is a neighbor of La Marzocco near Florence. It's a little high in hardness and alkalinity, at the upper limit of LM recommendation for hardness and slightly above their upper limit for alkalinity. (And LM recommendations are higher than most machine manufacturers.) If you use that just keep an eye out for scale.

(I posted my opinions on CG - Olancha and Aqcua Panna a while back - see Best bottled water for espresso machine)

Also, Greg (8899) mentioned Fiji bottled water in the post above. That's an interesting one because it does come from volcanic rock and has over 90 mg/L silica content. That level would make me rule it out for routine use in an espresso machine. But it may be interesting to taste test in a pourover or cupping as an example of a moderately hard, high alkalinity water.

Fiji numbers available at http://www.fijiwater.com/faqs.html
18 mg/L Na⁺
4.9 mg/L K⁺
18 mg/L Ca²⁺
14 mg/L Mg²⁺
9.2 mg/L Cl⁻
153 mg/L HCO⁻
92 mg/L SiO₂
0.23 mg/L F⁻
224 mg/L TDS
7.7 pH

45 mg/L calcium hardness (CaCO3 equiv)
103 mg/L total hardness (CaCO3 equiv)
125 mg/L alkalinity (CaCO3 equiv)
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Postby Shojin » May 15, 2018, 3:57 pm

I've got a Linea Mini incoming and have settled on the Pavlis water method. I'll get five gallons of deionized water from the machine at the supermarket, for 59c/gallon, to which I plan to add 1.9g of potassium bicarbonate. And that is it, at least I hope that'll be it.

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Postby homeburrero » May 15, 2018, 4:37 pm

Very sensible, in my opinion. Healthy alkalinity (50 ppm as CaCO3), no potentially harmful chloride, silica, sulfate, etc, and nothing that might cause scale. Down the road you can get more involved with either plumb-in and filtration choices, or perhaps with different mixes or bottled waters if you think doing that might improve taste. The total hardness is zero, which is contrary to the LMLM maunual recommendation* but I wouldn't let that bother me.

* V 1.1 (4/2015) of the LMLM manual recommended a hardness of 90 - 150 ppm. (Yow!) V 1.2 (11/2015) brought it in line with their usual online recommendation of 70-100 ppm, which is still oddly high. Their alkalinity recommendation is 40 - 80 ppm.
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Postby pcrussell50 » May 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

I am still not 100% clear on what the addition of magnesium sulphate (epsom salts), to scale free water such as one of Dr. Pavlis' recipes will do to scaling tendency. My understanding from reading Matt Perger is that magnesium sulphate acts as a scale-free, "hardness substitute" (my own words in quotes), for stripping more flavor out of the bean, without increasing the tendency to scale. Of course, since one of the common scale compounds is magnesium carbonate, adding magnesium sulphate could cause scale if there are any carbonates in the water...

...The question is, will or might the carbonates in the sodium or potassium bi-carbonate of Pavlis water, combine with the magnesium in epsom salts, to form magnesium carbonate scale?

...This is the thing that is still up in the air, in my mind. I do not know the answer and wish Dr. Pavlis were here to enlighten. If the answer has been presented in one of the many recent water threads, I have missed it.

LMWDP #553

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Postby homeburrero » May 15, 2018, 7:37 pm

pcrussell50 wrote:Of course, since one of the common scale compounds is magnesium carbonate, adding magnesium sulphate could cause scale if there are any carbonates in the water...

I'm not a real chemist, but my understanding is that's true - if you have magnesium ion, and bicarbonate ion, you have potential for magnesium carbonate precipitation (and, I believe magnesium carbonate + magnesium hydroxide hydrate) irrespective of whether it was added in the form of magnesium sulfate.

But magnesium carbonate is more soluble than calcium carbonate, and scales differently. The scaling rates that we predict via Jim's FAQ and the Langelier Saturation Index are all based on calcium concentrations and not magnesium. I've seen one article by aquarium people who claim that magnesium in the water will tend to interfere with the precipitation of calcium carbonate. I've also had a couple folks tell me that they've used 100+ mg/L magnesium hardness and 40+ mg/L bicarbonate alkalinity (both measures in CaCO3 equivalents) over a long period with no evidence of scale deposits.
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Postby dale_cooper » May 15, 2018, 9:31 pm

"Dad's perfect water" worked well this morning on the technivorm; more tests to come this week. I was using TWW for a while but have lately been using a gallon of crystal geyser (but I don't think its the good crystal geyser source) or kroger brand filtered drinking water.

My dad is using a whole house water softerner with an RO system under the sink - all made by aqua systems.

After tasting these cups - I almost think the taste I was getting from the crystal geyser could be described as metallic or sharp on the front of the palate. My dad's water causes a much more "rounded" flavor profile - fruit is more prevalent, acidity is tamed, and theres nothing overly sharp. I can't get over how much better it is.


Postby AgileMJOLNIR » May 16, 2018, 7:43 pm

Thank you everyone for all the advice. I may toy around with different solutions in the future but for now Crystal Geyser seems recommended by many people I've spoken too including La Marzocco. I'm fortunate enough to have Crystal Geyser from the Shasta/Weed source so I'll give it a shot. I do plan on throwing some test strips in it anyways and I sure do hope the results are favorable because I just returned from the store with 10gallons of it :lol:

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Postby Viernes » May 17, 2018, 5:36 am

Does this craziness about water composition really matter?

You can get +10000 ppm if you sumerge the water tds meter into the coffee... This led me to remember when rpavlis said that coffee contained enormous amounts of minerals... So using water with 50 or 150 TDS is going to make any difference?