Watch this episode above, or listen to it on Coffee Lovers Radio
Water plays a big role in the brewing of your coffee. As someone interested in making really good coffee accessible to everyone – regardless of your knowledge/experience – I've taken a pretty casual approach to the water that you use.
In the past, I might have told you to give your water a taste, and whatever you can taste will influence your coffee – so if you don't mind drinking your tap water, then go ahead and brew with it, though you should probably consider getting a standard water filter anyways.
After this series of brewing tests with different types of water, I am absolutely changing my casual approach to water.
In this joint Coffee Lovers Radio and Coffee Lovers TV episode, Jesse and I take a look at a new product – Third Wave Water – alongside regular tap water, charcoal filtered water and bottled spring water from the store.
While we were absolutely anticipating a difference in the brews, we were quite surprised at just how bad your brew can get with the wrong water.
I also conducted some test of my own at home, and discovered that many of my problematic brews as of late can all be traced to my using of tap water. This was an odd realization for me, because the water supply where we live is generally very good for brewing coffee – or so we thought.
Third Wave Water – the primary product we were looking to review in this joint episode – is quite simply a specifically measured packet of minerals. It's designed such that you add a single Third Wave Water packet to a gallon of distilled water, and then you end up with water that is perfect for brewing coffee.
The specific balance and amount of these minerals in the water is crucial for brewing coffee and extracting the soluble compounds. What you probably don't realize is that water without minerals is almost useless for brewing coffee. If you try to brew with distilled water, you will discover that some parts of the coffee extract, but you end up with a very weird tasting concoction, which in a vacuum would probably turn you away from coffee altogether (i think it's that unpleasant). In order to capture all the sweetness, brightness, and good taste of coffee, you need water with the correct balance of minerals.
On the flip side, if you have too many minerals in your water, you will end up with an imbalance in extraction as well. I think this sort of water is a bit harder to come by alone (clean water with too high a mineral count) – the greater problem with using tap water is that you are likely to end up with extra chemicals in your brew, be it chlorine or flouride as is the case in many areas.
As you'll see watching the video, or listening to the episode, we have come to the conclusion that no matter what quality you think your tap water is, at the very least you are going to want to run it through a charcoal filter before brewing coffee.
This isn't the notion of high minded coffee snobbery, it's simply in our observation that the taste of your coffee can so very easily be disappointingly disgusting if you don't filter, even if you don't mind drinking your tap water straight.
At the high end, we did discover that the Third Wave Water brewed an amazingly good cup of coffee. There were differences between it and the filtered water – you'll have to check out the episode to see what we think on that account.
As one final note – I have observed that in a pinch, regular bottled spring water from the store does a fine job (the kind you can get for $1 a gallon).