How to Make Good Coffee with Better Water
Are you old enough to remember life before filtered water or bottled water? Those were the good old days when you turned on the kitchen tap for a glass of water - that probably didn't taste too good.
This article will cover the details of why using better water is important step in how to make good coffee. Since this article only covers the water aspect of the process you will then want to read how to make coffee or how to brew coffee.
In many parts of the United States, water may have been potable, meaning it was disease-free and safe to drink, but that didn't mean it tasted good. That bad taste in a glass of water translated into an off taste in anything cooked, with water added, and beverages like coffee brewed with water. Water taste was, and is, determined by the raw material, the natural water, and by the disinfection process used by your local water authority. Though strides have been made to create better tasting water, not all water systems have succeeded in this effort. The "recipe" for drinking water at most municipal water treatment facilities is still heavily influenced by the need to kill bacteria and other living organisms in order to make it safe for the population. That's why so many municipal water systems produce water that smells, and tastes, like the aqua blue stuff in a swimming pool. Chlorine is the chemical of choice to kill organisms in water. Safe to drink? Yes. Good to drink? Not so much.
Historically Bad Water in Your Coffee
What's even worse than the chlorine are the other challenges facing water plants. Some areas of the country have to contend not only with heavy chlorination, but also with high mineral content. Iron and lime create what's known as hard water. But the worst minerals in natural water are sulfur and hydrocarbons. The area around Big Spring, Texas, was known for its high production of crude oil and for its terrible tasting and smelling water.
Some say the entire oil patch of Texas had the worst tasting water in the country. A salesman who covered that part of Texas as his territory amused his home office by relating how he brushed his teeth with Coca Cola each morning because the water was so bad. What came from the tap smelled like casing head gas, the vapor that accompanies crude oil as the oil is being pumped from the ground. You don't have to be a NASA scientist to realize that if your tap water smells and tastes bad, then your coffee will too.
Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention
With so many different water sanitation plants across the country, indeed across the world, and with many of them focused on producing a safe water supply, not necessarily a good drinking quality, it was no surprise that someone saw opportunity in the situation.
In 1966, Heinz Hankammer founded Brita, a name most Americans know because of the jug water filters or the tap-installed water filters now sold in thousands of stores across the country. Originally, Hankammer's invention was for desalination, but it didn't take him long to see the potential for household use to improve the taste of drinking water. So in 1970, the first jug filter we're all familiar with was introduced and marketed for home use.
The rest, as the cliché goes, was history. Thirty years later, filtered water is such a part of our world that many wouldn't think of drinking water straight from the tap. The water jugs are still used along with the filter you install on your kitchen faucet. Now you can also buy appliances with filters incorporated in their designs, from refrigerators to kettles to coffee makers. You can even dispense with all those smaller filters and have your home's entire water supply filtered with a whole-house system. Like so many other good ideas, other companies jumped on the filtered water band wagon, giving consumers many different choices of brands and types for water filtration.
Benefits For Consumers
The convenience and ease of obtaining good tasting water with a simple water filter is a boon to consumers. Though most who use water filters do so for the taste, there are many who do so for health reasons as well. They know the shocking fact that there can be as many as 2,100 known toxins present in drinking water.
Filtering your water removes:
- Limescale, creating a better taste
- Chlorine and other substances, i.e., chlorine compounds, that produce bad tastes and smells
- Parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium which cause gastrointestinal illnesses
- Bacteria and other contaminants
- Particles too fine to see
- lead and copper content is reduced
Doctors say drink water. Health-conscious, weight-conscious Americans know they should drink more water, but the bottom line is that no one is very likely to drink much of the stuff coming out of the tap unless it tastes good.
Filtered water makes it easy to follow this good advice and consume the volume generally recommended for good health or to fill that empty space in your stomach if you're dieting. What may surprise you is how much better other things made with filtered water taste. Take coffee for example. When brewed with tap water, coffee ends up being a beverage to which you must add flavorings - sugar, milk, cream, or flavored coffee syrups - in order to make it more palatable. You don't often see people drinking coffee black when it's made with bad tasting water.
Filtered water creates such a smooth coffee that you can drink it black if you so choose. Or add flavorings because they enhance the taste, not because the taste needs to be camouflaged. The reason for this difference is that the aromatics in coffee aren't fully released when the water is full of chlorine, limescale, and other trace minerals. Aromatics relate not only to smell but also to taste.
How do you know if your water is full of flavor-altering limescale? Look at the coffee in your cup. Do you see something floating like a film on the surface of the liquid? Or have you ever boiled water and noticed a white residue in the kettle? That's excess limescale. This substance in water eventually will ruin your water pipes. It clings to the interior of the pipes, narrowing the flow until very low water pressure dictates replacing some pipes. Similarly, it ruins water heaters and appliances that use water, like coffee makers unless the appliance is regularly de-limed by flushing white vinegar through it.
Of course, another way to save your expensive coffee maker is to use filtered water which removes much of the limescale. Better coffee and longer life for the appliance. That's a win-win situation for sure.
The truth is that your municipal water supply probably won't kill you, but it won't win any taste awards either or brew you a cup of coffee that makes you smile when you walk to the kitchen in the morning. That intoxicating coffee smell results from full aromatic release. When you pour a cup of coffee brewed with quality water, the taste will be as superb as the smell.
All the taste, all the aroma, in one perfect cup of coffee. Now that's the way to start a day.