Up until now, you probably thought that the most important ingredient in making your daily coffee was… well, your coffee. And we can’t blame you. After all, the quality of your beans and the specifics of how they were roasted makes a pretty big impact on how your morning coffee tastes. But we’re here to teach you a new trick, one that’s so effective and obvious that you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner.
The trick? Great coffee comes from great water.
Think about it this way: your coffee is over 98% water. So, it makes perfect sense that water has a huge effect on the taste and quality of your coffee. Here are a few suggestions for finding the perfect H2O for your joe.
Use Water You Like to Drink
The first way of thinking is perhaps the most obvious: to brew coffee you want to drink, use water that you know you like. That means you want clean water that doesn’t have any off-putting odors or flavors lingering around. Rule of thumb? If you wouldn’t drink a glass of it, don’t use it to make your coffee.
So is filtered water okay to use in your coffee machine? Yes, definitely. In fact, that might be the easiest way to upgrade your brew without shelling out for an $18 cup of coffee
Hard or Soft Water?
To refresh your memory: hard water contains a significant amount of dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium, that’s preferred for drinking. Soft water, meanwhile, is treated water in which the only ion is sodium, leading it to taste a little bit salty. Is one better for making coffee than the other?
Well, it depends. The extra minerals in hard water can either enhance or compete with the flavors in your coffee. Soft water, meanwhile, shouldn’t really affect the taste of your coffee too much, but some people recommend avoiding using it to make coffee (especially if you’ve softened it with a home water softening treatment, which could goop up your ground coffee and get stuck in your brew basket).
Like we mentioned above, if you like the taste of your hard water, go ahead and try brewing your coffee with it to see if you notice a different flavor. One thing to note: because of the minerals in very hard water, you should take care to clean your coffee machine correctly and regularly. This task entails running vinegar or another coffee machine cleaner through your machine every now and then, using fresh water to rinse it afterwards.
When In Doubt, Drink Local
Head to your favorite local coffee shop to purchase beans that are flavor-compatible with the local water. Your local roaster tests their beans using local water, so you can reasonably believe that they’ve optimized their coffee to be compatible with municipal water. Even better, ask the barista about their testing process and what they’ve learned about the local water’s taste when used for coffee brewing.
If you’re really dedicated to finding your perfect brew, ask your local barista for a sample of the water they use to brew coffee. You can do a little A/B testing at home with your own personal ceramic coffee mug to find out which water source tastes best with your favorite beans.
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