TDS & Water Softening: The SCAA Water Quality Handbook - Page 2

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
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Marshall (original poster)

#11: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

Ken Fox wrote:The passages you quote are quite honestly unbelievable to anyone who has ever designed or participated in blind tasting tests.
They were written by Paul Songer (director of Quality Control and principal Technical Adviser for the Cup of Excellence), Ted Lingle and Dave Beeman, but I defer to your superior tasting and brewing experience. May I suggest you buy and read the Handbook before making any more assumptions?
Marshall
Los Angeles

chang00

#12: Post by chang00 »

Mr David Beeman, one of the writers of the book, is founder of Cirqua.

Of the readings on water, personally I feel another_jim's Insanely Long Water FAQ, the book under discussion, and the article "Water Quality for espresso coffee" by L Navarini and D Rivetti of illy to be most helpful and informative.

There may be a typo on a previous post. Sodium is a cation with a charge of positive ONE, and chloride anion with negative ONE. Once a salt is dissolved in water, the ionic bonds disassociate, and precipitation depends on Keq.

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Ken Fox

#13: Post by Ken Fox »

Marshall wrote:They were written by Paul Songer (director of Quality Control and principal Technical Adviser for the Cup of Excellence), Ted Lingle and Dave Beeman, but I defer to your superior tasting and brewing experience. May I suggest you buy and read the Handbook before making any more assumptions?
I don't care who wrote them, Marshall. They are undeniable crap. You don't have to be Robert Parker to know that no human being could reliably identify 10 different Bordeaux wines without knowledge of what they were or what vintage they came from. You don't need to be any of the luminaries you identify to know that no one human being, no less a group of human beings, can make these sorts of discriminations blinded every time in a repeatable manner. It does not pass the "sniff test" at its most basic level.

It is unbelievable CRAP. It is undeniable crap. I repeat, it is CRAP.

Anyone who can believe stuff like this either has no understanding of real blind tasting procedures, no understanding of human sensory limitations, is someone who blindly follows whatever they deem to have come out of the mouths of "experts," or some combination of the above.

End statement.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

bernie

#14: Post by bernie »

We have had a reputation for both excellent water and excellent brewed coffee and espresso for about 10 years. I attribute much of that to the quality of water. Its a constant pita since customers will actually come in to fill jugs of water if they can get away with it. Students from across the street, mostly. We use a sediment filter, followed by a standard salt water softener, followed by 3x 5-micron filters, followed by a commercial size RO membrane, followed by a potassium trickle filter to up the TDS to 150. We spend about $700 a year on filters. The discussion so far is a bit more chemistry than I can remember, but I can tell you that folks have an amazing ability to note very slight changes in our water.

Bernie

karmacafe

#15: Post by karmacafe »

This could get interesting.....

I am curious to see if there will be some sort of consensus on this as I am moving from Raleigh, NC (very soft water) to Denver, which has pretty hard water. I will have to invest in something I'm sure.

Ken Fox

#16: Post by Ken Fox »

bernie wrote:We have had a reputation for both excellent water and excellent brewed coffee and espresso for about 10 years. I attribute much of that to the quality of water. Its a constant pita since customers will actually come in to fill jugs of water if they can get away with it. Students from across the street, mostly. We use a sediment filter, followed by a standard salt water softener, followed by 3x 5-micron filters, followed by a commercial size RO membrane, followed by a potassium trickle filter to up the TDS to 150. We spend about $700 a year on filters. The discussion so far is a bit more chemistry than I can remember, but I can tell you that folks have an amazing ability to note very slight changes in our water.

Bernie
Hi Bernie,

What does your water taste like before you treat it? Is it hard water that is not very pleasant to drink in its native state?

These kinds of threads tend to not really consider what sort of water one is starting out with. There is municipal water that is very hard to deal with, both on the grounds of dissolved minerals, and on overall taste. There is municipal water that is very soft, like what you find in parts of the coastal Pacific Northwest. There is municipal water that comes from mountain wells that tastes good but has a lot of calcium carbonate hardness contained within it. And, there is water in between these "extremes."

To treat all these municipally supplied waters as if they can be reduced to a simple discussion of certain dissolved minerals, especially scale forming calcium carbonates, is a gross oversimplification of reality as the raw water substrate relates to the coffee it can produce. This does however play into the hands of companies such as Cirqua, who have treatment systems they want to sell you.

And what better approach could you take if you want to sell stuff like this, then to use the well known "Cirqua Circus Act," as I refer to it, which is on display at SCAA convention expositions and other coffee related commercial symposia? Just take everything out of the water making it completely demineralized (which everyone can agree will produce horrid coffee or espresso), then add back in minerals, creating a false choice between what amounts to distilled water and synthetic remineralized water?

I promise you that the good people at Cirqua, and any other company that offers a "demonstration" like this, knows exactly what they are doing. With this circus act they have moved the discussion from, "how can I most easily treat my water so as to produce good results with coffee beverages, into a discussion of what is better, distilled water or this or this or that synthetic remineralized water? This is a false choice.

To the thinking audience, I suggest that you don't just take this all at face value. The real question you need to consider is, what can I do to my water in the easiest and most economical fashion, that will give me good results that will cause me the least amount of headaches in machine maintenance? That is the real question. And if you have raw materials like the water that Bernie and Marshall have to deal with, the right answer might be a bit a more of a PITA than the right answer would be for most other readers of this thread.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

Phil_P

#17: Post by Phil_P »

SCAA via Marshall wrote:... The same coffee, grind, and brewer were used and the same standard combination of minerals was used. The only difference was the concentration of the minerals in the brewing water. The first tasting was conducted using three water samples: one contained TDS at a level of 45 mg/L, one at 150 mg/L, and one at 450 mg/L. The coffee that was brewed with 150-mg/L water was chosen as far superior by all who judged the coffee.
Slightly tangential point, but is this figure specific to brewed methods rather than espresso? Seem to remember the ILWFAQ mentioning 90 mg/L as optimum for espresso...

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bernie

#18: Post by bernie »

Ken Fox wrote:Hi Bernie,

What does your water taste like before you treat it? Is it hard water that is not very pleasant to drink in its native state?
(snipped)

And if you have raw materials like the water that Bernie and Marshall have to deal with, the right answer might be a bit a more of a PITA than the right answer would be for most other readers of this thread.

ken
The water is undrinkable. But, as the city says, it is safe. During the summer when they bring on more wells that are marginal it gets worse. Very hard, full of all sorts of crap and at times a distinct odor of sulpher. You see lots of little water shacks around and at every grocery store where you can take a bottle and fill up out of a common hose. Not sure how that gets past the health department, but it does. The water at our house is from a small community well and is just superb. Go figure.

Bernie

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another_jim
Team HB

#19: Post by another_jim »

Ken Fox wrote:I don't care who wrote them, Marshall. They are undeniable crap. You don't have to be Robert Parker to know that no human being could reliably identify 10 different Bordeaux wines without knowledge of what they were or what vintage they came from. You don't need to be any of the luminaries you identify to know that no one human being, no less a group
This probably needs a separate post.

There is a strong distinction between excellence and quality control. This publication, judging by the quotes, undermines the distinction.

I have no doubt that a person tasting the same coffee, in the same water, brewed the same way, every day, will be able to discriminate very fine differences in that coffee's freshness, that water's composition, or that brew method's parameters. This is the basis for the more amazing assertions made by David Schomer and the ones made here.

But this is no different from the taste panel at Folger's being able to discriminate minute changes in the proportion of Vietnamese Robustas in the daily QC samples. It's just quality control, not excellence.

A taste tester at Cirqua, using their usual setup and ingredients, is going to be able to discriminate at 25 TDS levels. But these feats of discrimination are possible with bad, mediocre and good coffees. Also, just as the taste panel at Folger's will prefer just the right amount of Robusta; so the Cirqua tasters will prefer just the right amount of TDS. Again, this has nothing to do with excellence; it's just long habituation to a single quality control standard.

I can accept the Folger's QC department's assurance that "perfect Folger's" has 28.3% grade 3 washed Vietnamese Robusta. I doubt I would be accept their word that this is also the recipe for perfect coffee. I also accept that the perfect Cirqua water treatment comes in at 150 TDS. But I wouldn't accept that it is the only way to brew coffee correctly.

Think about it. The more unconditionally precise these brewing dictums become, the less they have to do with coffee excellence, and the more they have to derive from a rigidly unchanging quality control environment. If there had been variation in the coffees, brewing methods, and tasters, there would have been statistical distributions in the results, and contingencies in the brew recommendations.
Jim Schulman

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Whale

#20: Post by Whale »

The OP quotes are not making any references to long time tasting but somewhat single point, or at least not long term QC type, taste test. I do not see anything in the quotes that claims any association with quality control.

Regardless of the merits of the members of the aforementioned panel, I do not believe that a 6 members panel will be able to UNANIMOUSLY, be able to discern from +/- 25 mg/L of dissolved solids in a coffee repeatably. It is possible although improbable that it happenned once. But is is nigh impossible that it would happen again the next day or the next month.

Furthermore, it is not only claimed that they discern, but that they can tell UNANIMOUSLY that +/- 25 mg/L of dissolved solids will make a coffee taste from good to "OFF". This is a completly unacceptable statement. It means nothing if not given with the exact definition of the other test parameters, and even with all the information it would also mean that everybody should like the same amount of acidity and body balance...

I want to continue, but I fear it is futile.
LMWDP #330

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