Solis Barista Perfetta - water? filter?

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

#1: Post by dcoplan »

I just got one of these machines and I'm totally new to espresso. I live in Southern California where the water is pretty hard. This machine includes a filter to deal with varying degrees of hardness as well as the option to not use it at all. Convenience says use the filter and normal tap water. Prudence says buy filtered water but that's kind of a hassle and I don't love the idea of continually buying plastic containers.

1. Does anyone with this machine use hard tap water with the filter?
2. If you use filtered water do you still use the filter or not?

Any other thoughts / advice much appreciated!

Jeff
Team HB

#2: Post by Jeff »

Let me guess, the shower head in your bath has some white crust on it.

If it's doing that at around 80-90°F, it will be dumping all that and more into the insides of your machine at 195° in the brew chamber, and even worse in the steam circuit.

Filtered water, with almost no exceptions, does nothing around removing the minerals that cause scale.

I'd read through the Water subsection on "non-scaling" water. There are several ways to prepare this from RO or distilled water using no more than a couple, readily available ingredients. A couple gallon, glass jugs can be used to ferry demineralized water from a local bulk dispenser. Here near San Francisco, Whole Foods has RO/demineralized for something like $0.59 a gallon.

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homeburrero
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#3: Post by homeburrero »

Jeff wrote:Filtered water, with almost no exceptions, does nothing around removing the minerals that cause scale.
This machine uses a filter that contains a cation exchange resin in addition to activated charcoal (https://solis.com/be_nl/solis-water-fil ... fetta-plus). That resin will tend to remove hardness minerals and help to "protect your espresso machine from limescale" as claimed in the product literature. The user manual for the Solis Barista advises that the filter will increase your potassium, so I'd guess that it's a conventional softening resin that exchanges potassium for magnesium and calcium hardness cations. But still, it's unspecified about that and the capacity, so I would recommend not relying on it where you need to soften your water.


Jeff wrote:I'd read through the Water subsection on "non-scaling" water. There are several ways to prepare this from RO or distilled water using no more than a couple, readily available ingredients. A couple gallon, glass jugs can be used to ferry demineralized water from a local bulk dispenser. Here near San Francisco, Whole Foods has RO/demineralized for something like $0.59 a gallon.
Good advice. Especially in Southern California where some water may be hard and also high in corrosive chloride, the easiest way to assure that you are using non-scaling and non-corrosive water is to start with purified and add some bicarbonate, and perhaps small amounts of other minerals.
Pat
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dcoplan (original poster)

#4: Post by dcoplan (original poster) »

Yup, I do have buildup on my shower head. Appreciate the feedback. Sounds like it's simply not worth messing around with trying to treat the tap water even though I hear the minerals can be good for coffee flavor.

Do you have this machine or you were just thoughtful enough to reply to my post?

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homeburrero
Team HB

#5: Post by homeburrero »

dcoplan wrote:Sounds like it's simply not worth messing around with trying to treat the tap water even though I hear the minerals can be good for coffee flavor.
Yes, recipe water is the simple and straightforward option. But if you must, you can almost always treat challenging water if you're willing to install a reverse osmosis (RO) system with a remineralizing cartridge. I believe that is often used in the LA area.


dcoplan wrote:Do you have this machine or you were just thoughtful enough to reply to my post?
I don't have that machine. But I was curious about the filter and looked it up, then after learning about it figured I should reply. There are a few machines out there that do use reservoir inline filters with cation exchange resins, including some LeLit machines and some Brevilles. I think LeLit is the only one that specifies the softening capacity of the filter so that you might know when to replace it before it's depleted. There are also pouch resin filters that just sit in the tank and help soften the water - Tell me about these reservoir water softeners
Pat
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dcoplan (original poster)

#6: Post by dcoplan (original poster) »

Here's another general question...the manual says you should empty the water container every day (it also says you should totally unplug the machine from the wall). That just seems silly to me. I can't remember the exact text but something about water being "food stuffs". I can't imagine the difference between the water sitting in the tank and sitting in its original container. Am I missing something? Or it's just the company being ridiculously over cautious?

Jeff
Team HB

#7: Post by Jeff »

"Biofilm"

Perhaps over-cautious, but you've got water sitting in an open container at a very comfy temperatures for all kinds of microscopic things to grow. If the water or reservoir feels "slippery", it probably is due for a good soap-and-water wash.

I drain and wash my reservoir weekly, along with my general weekly cleaning routine of the basket, screen, and steam tip, at two shots a day.
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homeburrero
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#8: Post by homeburrero »

dcoplan wrote:the manual says you should empty the water container every day
I would say they are being overly cautious, perhaps repeating what has been said in other user manuals. If you have been filling your reservoir with charcoal filtered water, it has no chlorine disinfectant and may get some microbe growth, including biofilm. But I think most users go a week or more between emptying and cleaning their reservoirs. Some discussion can be found here: How long should water sit in a reservoir?
Pat
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dcoplan (original poster)

#9: Post by dcoplan (original poster) »

I have another couple cleaning questions (thanks for your willingness to answer)...

1) After I pull a shot and remove the pf, there are usually some residual grounds on the bottom of the group head (I have that term correct?). Do you wipe this down or don't worry about it? I always do a preheat/flush before pulling a shot and any residual stuff comes through at that time.

2) My basket clips into the pf (do they all clip in?). Not a big deal but a minor pain pulling them apart and snapping them back in. Ok to leave together as a single unit after cleaning or better to pull it apart anyway and thoroughly clean out and dry?

Jeff
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#10: Post by Jeff »

My habit is to quickly flush (2-3 seconds) and wipe the screen immediately after the shot. I can't say it is better that way if you're always flushing for HX temperature control. It's a long established habit that helps make sure I don't bake a puck overnight by forgetting to remove the PF after the last shot.

With a bottomless PF handle, popping out the basket is a bit easier. That spring will loosen up with time a bit. Some people remove the spring entirely to make changing baskets easy. I use a really old spring that helps hold the basket a bit when I bang out the puck.

The routine that works for me, that isn't the only one, is:

Stir the espresso and set aside
Remove the PF handle and bang out the puck
Quick rinse and wipe of the group screen
Rinse the basket, still in the handle, in the sink
(I pop out the basket as I do most of my prep in a bare basket)
Dry the basket, at least the inside
Enjoy the espresso, which has now cooled to a reasonable temperature

Edit: As I think your machine has a spouted PF handle and getting a bottomless might be challenging, I'd at least weekly pull out the basket and clean. I find it hard to argue that old coffee in the spout is "seasoning" rather than a bit of stale or rancid coffee in every cup. Cafiza or a similar product is a good one for a weekly soak. A standard, 20-oz bottle is nearly a lifetime supply for most home users.

Hot espresso always tastes "hot" and sometimes little more. It's a myth that it gets bitter when it gets cold. It was probably bitter hot, but you couldn't tell. I've forgotten my espresso many times now with work-at-home dragging me into a morning meeting. Coming back an hour later it has been cold, but still very balanced and enjoyable.