Why is Water Important?coffee education standards water | 05.04.21
Water is an integral part of coffee. In fact by volume it’s vastly more important. Did you know that
This percentage affirms how essential quality water is to a good brew, and also how much of an impact that small amount of coffee affects taste.
Think water doesn’t taste like anything? Think again:
water greatly impacts your perception of taste, and has quite a few common flavours of its own.
There are endless variables that affect water taste. Here are the big ones:
Minerals: the trace amount of compounds and elements that make water “hard” or “soft”. They also alter the extraction process in brewing coffee.
Sodium: together with chlorine makes table salt, in water it’s dissolved contributing to the water’s salinity. Obviously, this is what makes water taste salty.
Chlorine: an essential mineral in minute quantities, often used in water treatment to kill bacteria. Think of how pool water tastes (we don’t recommend drinking pool water!).
Calcium: you can see this one build up over time at the bottom of your kettle in the form of calcium carbonate, or limescale. It’s an essential mineral in minute quantities.
Magnesium: known to affect your taste receptors the most out of any other mineral. It’s also an essential mineral in minute quantities.
pH: the measure of how acidic or alkaline water or coffee is. It’s really the net charge of the ions in water.
Strength: How aqueous a solution is. In our case, the ratio of water to coffee.
What you’re drinking in your Skittle Lane coffee
We filter each of our water sources for espresso machines and filtered taps at our cafes with Puretec filters. These industry-designed systems allow us to consistently control our water purity and choose the perfect balance of minerals for your coffee to taste great, and sit well on your tongue.
Apart from controlling water minerals and pH with our purifier, we also control the ratio of coffee to water with precision by using a refractometer to measure the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in our coffee. To give you an example, the Skittle Lane parameters for our batch brew’s TDS is between 1.38% and 1.48%, which means it is 98.62% - 98.52% water.
This ratio is crucial to brewing coffee well: it determines its strength, mouthfeel, and viscosity.
At the end of the day the best type of water for brewing is up to the drinker of the coffee. Minute changes in mineral content may be hard to distinguish if you’re sipping one coffee at a time, so if you don’t have a water testing kit on hand or the palate of a sommelier, you can leave it up to us and our filtering systems.
Water in one area often tastes different to another area because of how it’s sourced. The difference comes from each region’s mineral content. Back before our Bondi roastery, we roasted and cupped coffee in Marrickville. When we returned to the city with the same coffee, grind, and cupping procedure, the taste of the coffee would change, even when the city water tasted fine as is. Just because a source of water tastes good as is doesn’t mean it will brew coffee well: the qualities of good drinking and good brewing water are different! Now that we use a consistent filtering system between cafes, their water is as close as can be with identical filtering and purifying systems. This is because they match the mineral and pH balances from the two different water sources at each cafe location, and we optimise for brewing.
Why is Mountain/Spring Water the best for drinking?
Obviously water is more essential for drinking as is than it is as a coffee ingredient. Most people drink water from a municipal source (tap water), a well, or from a natural spring. Each will have a different mineral content depending on its source.
Next time you’re travelling far from home, try bottling some water and comparing its taste to your local water. Mountainous regions often have some of the freshest-tasting waters because of their natural purity: their freshly-melted snow caps are free from bacteria and contain raw minerals from the mountain tops. Spring water is often prized for its purity too, as it’s naturally-filtered from underground aquifers (concealed pockets of water underground).
Lastly, there’s bottled water. This type of water is either artificially made, using minerals and softeners to produce the best desired quality of water, or bottled and filtered straight from the source, labelled “spring water”. If you buy bottled water, there are ranges of products available such as “softened”, meaning alkalinised, or even more popular, “sparkling”, meaning carbonated. At Skittle Lane’s city location, we sell Antipodes drinking water, both still and sparkling. This premium bottled water comes from an aquifer assessed as New Zealand’s deepest high-quality water source.
Now you know why water is the essential element of coffee: its quality makes a huge difference on your consumption of vital minerals, and on the immediate influence of your sense of taste. As you sip your 98% water filter coffee, remember that the minerals in the water change the way your taste buds perceive the coffee’s flavour, and the ratio of coffee to water can change the consistency and potency of beverage dramatically; only 8% more coffee would make your filter coffee more like an espresso.
We invite you to hydrate well and drink great water: next time you come into our stores bring an empty bottle and try some of our purified water for your brewing, or buy some Antipodes mineral water from our city location and taste it to believe it!
The Skittle Lane Team