Water Tastes Worse With Carbon Filter, Why?

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
Capee7

#1: Post by Capee7 »

Hi all,

I recently plumbed my espresso machine (I totally want to do a write up of the process but don't know how yet) and I decided to merely use a carbon filter because my water is not hard at all and the taste of it has been amazing.

However, I made coffee this morning and realized it tasted "off." I flushed water through the filter for at least 15 minutes before connecting it to the machine which I assumed would be long enough but the water TDS has increased and the flavor has become more well water like.

Any thoughts as to why this might be the case? Is the filtering setup I used not a good one (I assumed a carbon filter couldn't hurt but merely protect my machine from sediment). Any feedback is much appreciated :)

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

Your statement that the water now tastes like well water is telling. I have well water which is quite hard and tastes far better on its own than city water. Have you ever had your water tested? Maybe all you need to do is to remove the carbon filter and replace it with a sediment cartridge. Treating water without knowing its content is like going to the doctor and asking to be cured of a disease of the doctor's choice at random. :wink:
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

Capee7

#3: Post by Capee7 »

Hahaha! I like the analogy!

Unfortunately I grew up in a city near Seattle and became accustomed to the tap water and never enjoyed spring or well water as a result.

In regards to testing the water. Honestly I have only checked the TDS which is 24 ppm. I don't even know where to start and even if I did know what to use to test it, I wouldn't know what was necessary for filtering.

The reason I went with the Carbon filter is because a Espresso Machine Shop said it's necessary to filter the water and and they were recommending their product which was merely a carbon filter. So, I decided to put one together for a fraction of the price.

Attached is a statement from our water quality report from last year which goes above my head!

If you have any input/advice I would love to hear it. Thanks


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Randy G.

#4: Post by Randy G. »

There are at least a dozen people on this forum that are FAR more knowledgeable about water. Hopefully they will offer some suggestions. From what I see they will likely need more info. Some water services will do a free or low-cost test covering PH (alkalinity/acidity), and specific mineral content which will point towards the propensity to scale.

Because you like the taste of the water without the carbon cartridge, and because a carbon cartridge does nothing to avoid scale (and harms the taste of the water for you), the least expensive thing at this point would be, as I previously suggested, to replace the carbon cartridge with a sediment filter.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

Capee7

#5: Post by Capee7 »

Oh I see. Maybe I'll just do that.

I was also able to find the following information about my water quality. It's the column that says Everett. It seems like most of the values are on the lower side of the range provided so maybe the sediment filter would be enough?


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homeburrero
Team HB

#6: Post by homeburrero »

A fresh, good quality carbon filter should adsorb chlorine and other things that might cause objectional taste and/or odors in trace amounts. It does nothing to decrease the minerals in the water that would typically be associated with good quality well water, so I have no clue as to how it would make your water lack a taste that you like and associate with well water. And a carbon filter should NOT increase your TDS or conductivity, so if you are seeing that you might want to check your measurement - be especially careful to test the before and after water at the exact same temperature. Even though most conductivity/TDS meters have some temperature compensation, they can't be relied on, so a measurement at a different temperature can give you a significantly different reading.


I worry a little about your statement:
Capee7 wrote:they were recommending their product which was merely a carbon filter. So, I decided to put one together for a fraction of the price.
You may have built yourself a substandard filter. If you haven't already, I'd suggest going with a standard commercial carbon block + particulates filter. You can get them from your favorite HB sponsor coffee parts supplier. A standard replacement filter for a 10" housing, NSF certified, will run you less than $20 and last 6 months.

P.S.
You can get even more info specific to the Everett portion of your water source here: https://everettwa.gov/DocumentCenter/Vi ... PDF?bidId= Checkout their handy "parameters for home brewing":



For sure, the best advice for treating this water is a simple particulates + NSF 42 charcoal (either GAC or carbon block). The water's calcium hardness works out to about 10 mg/L (CaCO3 equivalent), and alkalinity is also very low - so certainly no chance of scale. The alkalinity is a little less than is commonly recommended, but with those nice low chloride and sulfate numbers I don't think that's a problem at all.

[Edit addition] Also, note that some charcoal jug filters (Brita, Pur. Soma, BWT, etc.) are not simple charcoal and contain weak acid ion exchange resins. These filters may reduce your alkalinity and acidify your water, and when depleted the resins might add their own off-taste to the water. The new Brita longlast filter is the only one I know of that has none of these ion exchange resins.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Capee7

#7: Post by Capee7 »

Thanks for your input! Super helpful information!

I'll confirm the TDS value when I get home. I assumed the temperature was similar but you're probably right!

In regards to the filtration system I put together, it is definitely possible that it is substandard. However, I did get my info from this website and a filtration company. I bought everything from wateranywhere.com and went with their standard carbon block filter per their recommendation.

https://wateranywhere.com/ami-extruded- ... -standard/

This is the system.....



Your info about the water quality and the recommended filter is super helpful so thank you for the time you spent responding!!

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homeburrero
Team HB

#8: Post by homeburrero »

Your system looks fine to me - same thing that I was recommending. So I'm at a loss as to why your water and coffee might taste worse with that filter.

Like Randy suggested, you might try a plain particle/sediment filter in that generic housing. You might also give another brand of carbon+particulates filter a try, just in case something is off about the particular one you have in there now.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Capee7

#9: Post by Capee7 »

Thank you all for helping me through this issue.

I ordered a few new carbon block filters from different brands as well as particulate filters. I will give these a try and hopefully they solve the issue. I will check back in to let anyone know if the brand plays a role.

Capee7

#10: Post by Capee7 »

Hey everyone,

I think I may have found the culprit to the funny tasting water. When I was opening the new filter I noticed there were some rubber gaskets on each end that I took off. Didn't think much of it, just that it was to protect the filter during transport most likely. The water ended up tasting great with the new filter. So, I just thought the previous filter was no good. Today I was looking at the old one and it had those same rubber gaskets on each end that I hadn't noticed because they sat so flush with the filter.

I assume it was the rubber that gave it the off taste but I don't want to remove the new filter to test my theory. I will eventually check it out though because I had purchased multiples of that filter.

Make sure to remove the rubber! Haha I can't believe I didn't think of that (granted, the instructions don't mention that). Hope this helps someone else one day.