The water you use for your coffee may seem completely incidental – but nothing could be further from the truth. Water is actually an essential element, and almost equally as important as the coffee itself! Did you know, for example, that an espresso consists of over 98% water? Which goes some way to explaining the impact that this vital ingredient has on the way your drink tastes. So I think you’ll agree that it’s high time we took a closer look at whether you should have it filtered …
Why is the water I use for my coffee so important?
In its purest form, water is pretty tasteless. But depending on the region you live in and the particular water you use, it will contain different trace elements, minerals and naturally occurring impurities – not to mention chlorine, if you live in the city (not exactly an attractive flavour additive…) The presence of these elements may conspire to accentuate (in the case of magnesium), alter or even reduce the quality of your espresso. It is also important to remember that limescale, also present in water, will build up in the pipes and boiler of your coffee machine – clogging it up, damaging it and, all in all, sentencing it to a slow death. But what about your coffee? Owing to a lack of thermal control (your coffee will either be piping hot or lukewarm), you will get little or no crema and a flat flavour with no aroma. So what can be done to avoid these pitfalls and, more importantly, improve the flavour of your drink? There are several things you can do to avoid the deterioration of both your coffee and your espresso machine with grinder. Unsurprisingly, most of the recommendations are based around filtering your water. But it’s up to you to choose the most appropriate technique for your own preferences, needs and equipment.
Water filter systems
Use a filter cartridge in your espresso machine
If you’re going to use tap water for your espresso machine with grinder, this should be the first port of call when it comes to installation. The cartridge will filter your water and absorb any minerals and impurities. It is quite simply essential to the long-term health of your coffee machine. All manufacturers of espresso machines and automatic coffee machines offer special cartridges for their machines. You can find these filter cartridges here. Other brands may also offer compatible cartridges that do the same job at a better price (also available on our website).
Get filtered water for your coffee using a filter jug
If your coffee machine cannot accommodate a filter cartridge, you can use a water filter jug. This method offers the same quality of filtering as a cartridge, but you can also use it for your other drinks or for appliances such as teapots or kettles.
Connect a filter cartridge to your water system
Another solution – especially for coffee professionals, or people living in areas where the water is very hard – is to adapt your water system, either by screwing a filter onto your tap or by installing a filter cartridge such as the BWT Bestmax.
No filter? Use soft mineral water
The last solution is to use spring water or soft mineral water. When it comes to the latter, Volvic is the best of the big brands, since its water contains comparatively little dry residue (132 mg/litre as opposed to 309 mg/litre for Evian or 564 mg/litre for Cristalline).
The next step: descale your espresso machine
Filtering your water does not eliminate limescale once and for all. Cartridges will filter out a large part of the limescale, but a small amount will always build up in the pipes. This will not necessarily affect how your coffee tastes, but it will damage your espresso machine. Which is why, in addition to filtering your water, you should periodically descale your coffee machine (between one and three times every three months). Espresso machine manufacturers offer their own descaling agents, as do specialist brands such as Durgol.
What about professionals?
The same advice applies. It’s absolutely imperative that you install a filter cartridge where the water enters your espresso machine, or further back, to protect it from limescale and other impurities.
Visit our website to find filter cartridges, descalers and anything else you may need for the maintenance of your espresso machine. And if you’re still unsure, please don’t hesitate to ask us for more advice in the comments section below.
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