Water Filter for Kitchen Renovation w/ Plumbed Espresso Machine?

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
jbrady3324

#1: Post by jbrady3324 »

We are starting a kitchen renovation in a few weeks where we will be plumbing a water line to our butler pantry area for a future espresso machine. I want to make sure I do this right from the start in terms of filters. Should I be purchasing a reverse osmosis filter to integrate or is there a better filter type for espresso machines? A lot of confusing information out there!

We will be integrating a reverse osmosis filter for our sink.

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homeburrero
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#2: Post by homeburrero »

jbrady3324 wrote:Should I be purchasing a reverse osmosis filter to integrate or is there a better filter type for espresso machines?
That decision depends on the water coming out of your tap. At a minimum you need to know your hardness, alkalinity, and chloride ion levels. If your water is soft with low chloride you may be best off with a simple carbon block to filter particles, chlorine, chloramine, taste, and odor.

RO can work OK as a fits-all solution if you either add a remineralization cartridge or use a system that can blend back some of the charcoal filtered feed water to get the right minerals into the water. Blended RO is often used by espresso shops, but can be pricy, require attention, and sometimes might not be advisable (for example if your water has high chloride and not much alkalinity.)
Pat
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jbrady3324 (original poster)

#3: Post by jbrady3324 (original poster) » replying to homeburrero »

Our water is hard (8-9ppm). Chlorine levels was around 2.5-3ppm. Lead around 1.2ug/l. I would have to test for the rest but this was based on a Culligan sales guy (who we are not purchasing from).

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homeburrero
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#4: Post by homeburrero »

jbrady3324 wrote:Our water is hard (8-9ppm). Chlorine levels was around 2.5-3ppm. Lead around 1.2ppm.
I bet you mean 8-9 gpg for hardness, which would be pretty hard. The chlorine is as expected for city water, and charcoal filters take care of that, but chloride is a diferent thing. I hope your lead is 1.2 ppb or less.

Are you on City of Chicago Water? They have nice complete reports that we can help digest down to the numbers you need for coffee water filtration decisions.
Pat
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jbrady3324 (original poster)

#5: Post by jbrady3324 (original poster) » replying to homeburrero »

Oops. I meant 1.2ug/l for lead :) I am in Evanston, IL. Here is their report for 2019 https://www.cityofevanston.org/Home/Sho ... t?id=57098 -- I do not have a lot of knowledge about water. If you could push me in the right direction based off the report, that would be extremely helpful!

My street piping copper, pipe to my house is likely lead w/ galvanized inside. Most vertical galvanized will be replaced during the renovation as well as exposed galvanized in the basement. Home was built in 1928.

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#6: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Chloride is a key as well. Evanston averages 15. You can read Pat's post in this thread.

Chloride - Recommended Acceptable Ranges
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jbrady3324 (original poster)

#7: Post by jbrady3324 (original poster) » replying to CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Thank you. If I purchased a water softener, maybe that would be enough and just did RO to the drinking faucet?

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#8: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

If you end up with doubts, the thread below is an alternative. It's what I use and others I know.
Only RO will take care of the chloride. If you get an RO you need to at least make sure the alkalinity is where it needs to be.

For me in AZ the chlorides were off the chart, and I didn't want to keep testing the RO as the year went on the filters changed. The tank set up was too easy as once installed, it takes about 5 min to refill every three weeks.

Espresso Cart - Goodbye Plumbed In
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homeburrero
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#9: Post by homeburrero »

jbrady3324 wrote:If I purchased a water softener, maybe that would be enough and just did RO to the drinking faucet?
I think that would be a viable option here. You would want to also have a carbon block or GAC filter to handle chlorine taste and odor. If you don't go with whole house softener you have the option of using a system does conventional softening along with carbon filtration, for example the CCS filter set shown here or a combined kit like the Cuno/3M or the Homeland cartridge.

All of these conventional softeners would leave your alkalinity as-is, in your case up in the 100 mg/L CaCO3 equivalent neighborhood, and drop your total hardness very low, so that you would rarely if ever need to descale provided you change the softener at proper intervals. The chloride would stay the same. That 100 mg/L alkalinity is above what is typically recommended, but would be healthy for the machine and in my opinion make perfectly tasty espresso.

Plan B would be to use one of the many decarbonizing filters on the market, like the BWT bestmax or the Mavea/Quell ST. These would drop your alkalinity as well as your hardness, and most are adjustable so you can dial in a mineral level that is in line with current thinking about optimal taste. But like conventional softeners they will not reduce the chloride, which is a potential corrosion concern, and since they reduce the alkalinity and the pH, that tends to add to the corrosion concern. At only 15 mg/L chloride you should be OK here, but for a valuable or a vintage machine I would probably play it safer and use a conventional softener instead.

A high-end RO system that allows blending of feedwater to get minerals would work very well here. You could blend maybe 30% to get near ideal hardness and alkalinity and drop your chloride down below 5 mg/L.

A regular RO (which I suspect you now have) could be fitted with a remineralization cartridge and give you water that's near zero chloride, and has enough hardness and alkalinity to protect your machine. It would be well on the soft side, perhaps resembling Seattle water, which is known to produce tasty espresso.

The ultimate solution is CarefreeBuzzBuzz espressocart solution - - using RO water in a tank that you plumb-in with a pump, and remineralize yourself. It works for just about any water that comes out of the tap to produce whatever water you think works best for taste and machine health. You'd have to spend some time in the rabbit hole figuring out what water recipe you want.
Pat
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jbrady3324 (original poster)

#10: Post by jbrady3324 (original poster) » replying to homeburrero »

This is great info! We currently do not have a RO system. We are about to renovate the kitchen and will have the ability to put in a water softener and RO that fits our needs best. The sky is the limit and we are definitely looking at a whole house water softener and a sink RO system. The espresso machine is the spot we do not have a solution for yet.