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Crazy about Coffee - Water Quality Is Key

Crazy about Coffee? Water Quality Is Key

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Water quality affects the flavor of everything from the food you prepare to the coffee you drink. If you’re crazy about coffee and want a water treatment system that supports this particular passion, it’s important to focus on essentials.

Specifics vary, but most coffee aficionados agree the secret to consistently superb coffee is a combination of five factors:

Beans. Choose high quality roasted beans and purchase them in small quantities. The fresher the beans, the more vibrant the coffee flavor.

Grind. Whether you grind the beans yourself or have them ground for you, the degree of coarseness is vital. An overly fine grind is more likely to produce a bitter undertone, while an overly coarse one produces a dull, lifeless flavor.

Temperature. Optimum flavor extraction occurs when the water temperature hovers between 195 and 205 degrees F. If water is cooler the flavor will be flat, if it’s hotter it acquires a bitter or oily note.

Brew Time. If you use a drip system, choose a machine calibrated to maintain about 5 minutes of contact between the hot water and grounds. If you use a French press, reduce the contact time to 2 to 4 minutes depending on your personal preferences.

Water. Every cup of java consists of roughly 2% coffee and 98% water, so poor water quality will radically affect taste and aroma no matter how carefully you control the other factors.

According to experts, the most aromatic and flavorful coffee is brewed with water that contains a variety of trace minerals in concentrations of 150 to 200 ppm. Most brew masters distinguish between salt and other minerals, because salt enhances the taste of coffee in the same way it improves the taste of food while minerals work in combination with heat to extract more flavor and enrich the final brew.

Finding the right balance can be a tricky business. Magnesium enhances woodsy notes and rounds out the flavor, but high levels of bicarbonates increase bitterness. High levels of chlorine and/or suspended particulates impair extraction, alter flavor and affect aroma. The National Coffee Association recommends avoiding distilled and soft water for coffee, because both produce brews that are flat, bland and boring.

Keep these factors in mind and work with an experienced plumber to evaluate options and select a water treatment system and configuration that works for you. In the meantime, opt for a countertop filtration unit with a carbon filter. It will remove chlorine, odors, particulates and other compounds, but it will retain the essential minerals that give coffee the rich, well-rounded flavor you crave.

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