Coffee Shop Water Treatment Systems
If you don’t already know that coffee is 98% water, which plays a paramount role in the actual taste of your brew, then maybe this isn’t for you. But, if you are interested in brewing the best cup of coffee possible, then how you treat your water is every bit as key to your success as the quality of your coffee beans. It takes great water and great coffee to make a quality cup of coffee.
Does treated water maker better coffee? Any coffee aficionado will tell you yes, however there are some regions of the country with exceptional tap water. Since coffee is mostly water, clearly the water you use to brew your coffee will make a severe impact on the taste of your coffee. Claire Vallin wrote an article in coffeetalk.com called “Water Matters” which says in part.
“Today, we may be at the beginning of what many are now claiming is the fourth wave of coffee. Never before has more care been taken in selecting beans, roasting them, and brewing them for individual and market consumption. As Keefe Aldstadt of OptiPure explains, “People spend six, eight, even ten thousand dollars on their espresso machines. Baristas are concerned with regulating temperature of water to one or two degrees, concerned with managing pressure, concerned with regulating as many variables they can so they can be assured they will get consistent results every time they pull a shot.” And yet, with all of the care taken to control every variable of extraction and brewing, one glaring aspect of preparation is still often overlooked: water quality.”
Your coffee should impart flavor to the water, but your water shouldn’t impart flavor to the coffee.
“The specialty coffee industry is evolving rapidly, and more and more companies and cafes are utilizing water treatment systems to keep up. Overall, positive developments in water quality have helped elevate even the most prized coffee to levels that would be impossible without such develments. SCAA’s water quality standards benefit the coffee industry by providing for increased consistency, as well as the ability to more accurately determine quality. Greater adherence to such standards will make the industry more efficient, as coffee at origin can be priced accurately according to its true value. Furthermore, properly treated water can easily decrease operating costs for coffee retailers by reducing equipment repair and service costs. And finally, water treatment systems can help coffee shop owners rest assured that they are delivering a minimally variable product that doesn’t underutilize or under appreciate the quality of the bean.”
Chlorine is known to add strange and undesirable taste to beverages. Chloramines are an inorganic compound used by municipal water treatment facilities to ensure disinfection, particularly as water sits or travels through long runs of water pipes from treatment plants to consumers. However, the major disadvantage of chloramines is taste and odor, in both hot and cold beverages. Coffee and espresso may taste sour while carbonated drinks may become bitter and flat.
The quality of water depends on the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS), which affects the overall taste and aroma of the beverage. These are primarily Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron. Eliminating these contaminants with reverse osmosis can help to provide high quality water to deliver the best cup of coffee.
If you are already in the coffee business, you know that commercial espresso machines are a significant investment, with prices $5,000 to in excess of $25,000. These systems have boilers and some have multiple heat exchangers, which are highly susceptible to lime-scale or hardness buildup. Inside, the boilers, heating elements and the heat exchanges will all lose energy efficiency as scale builds up (increasing energy costs in the process) and require de-scaling every few weeks, depending on water hardness. If de-scaling and cleaning is neglected, there’s a high cost for replacement, typically hundreds or even thousands, of dollars. In many case, the entire boiler unit has to be replaced.
Depending on the condition of the tap water and your budget, there are typically two ways you can treat the water for espresso brewing: (1) Ion exchange water softening ; and /or (2) Reverse osmosis.
Ion Exchange Softening
Here, the water is softened with a mini-water softener that is fully automatic and holds a four-week supply of salt. It regenerates on demand , insuring that you have soft water every day, your equipment is protected from lime scale and your product quality is consistent, day-after-day.
Reverse Osmosis System
Reverse osmosis typically removes up to 99 percent of TDS and hardness. Most RO systems also integrate a pre-filter and carbon filter since chlorine is damaging to RO membranes. In addition some systems have blending capabilities that allow for customizing the TDS and for multiple water outputs. Reverse osmosis also provides consistency, so for specialty coffee chains it ensures the coffee beverages are brewed with the same water quality across all locations. This is also a technology that can be applied to both espresso and drip coffee brewing, whereas salt softening is not a good technology for drip coffee.
The drawbacks to RO include the higher upfront cost, the necessity of power and a drain, the need for a floor tank, and the higher water waste. However, many of the newer systems only waste one gallon for every three gallons produced.
Being able to blend filtered water with the pure RO product water is very beneficial because pure RO water can cause over extraction of the coffee grounds. The blending retains some minerals to prevent this and the mineral (typically calcium carbonate, or calcite) adds flavor. Pure RO water can also cause corrosion on metals in the brewer. It is generally best to pre-soften the water before RO or to use some type of anti-scalant.
The ideal method for coffee brewing and espresso is the following:
Simply put, we strip everything out of the water and then add back a controlled, precise amount of calcium carbonate for the best flavor and extraction. Sizing of the system is critical and that is how the experts at US Water Systems can help you. Questions? Call us today at 800-608-8792 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org