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I live in a very hard water area - TDS of 312 when measured just now with a TDS meter.

 

That level of water hardness would kill an espresso machine without very regular - too regular - descaling.

 

I've been using different makes of bottled water - Volvic (TDS of about 110) and I've settled on Asda Eden Falls which has a TDS of about 80. I've measured and confirmed the label TDS measurements with a TDS meter.

 

A TDS of 80 is not soft and will lead to scale build up although with gentle descaling (? citric acid) I'm hoping its not too bad.

 

I'm putting the bottled water through a Brita jug filter and I can get the TDS down from 80 to 74 by doing that. It's such a small amount that it's hardly worth doing. Oddly, the Brita filter can remove about 100 TDS from the tap water to bring it down to about 210 TDS but it has much less of an impact on the bottled water and can even increase the TDS of some types of bottled water (I assume it's something to do with potassium but I'm completely ignorant on these things).

 

Question is - if I don't want to use an artificial water softener (and I really don't), what's the best way of getting not too hard water for use in a heat exchanger espresso machine? I want to get a decent balance between taste and the need for descaling and I don't want to spend too much money on a solution. Asda Eden Falls works out at less than half the cost of Volvic so it may be my best option given that there's no way I can use tap water with a TDS of 312 (or even 210 after a Brita filter has done its thing).

 

The other thing is that when I have briefly tried using hard water tap water (as an experiment) the coffee really did taste far superior to softer water coffee :rolleyes:

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I'm harder than you mate. 404 TDS :)

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Thanks. Yes, I've checked the calcium and magnesium of the various bottled waters. Volvic comes out as "moderately hard" (about 63 mg/L of calcium) and Asda Eden Falls gives a "soft" reading of 39.8.

 

However, Volic has a neutral PH of 7 and Eden Falls has a PH of 6.4, so slightly acidic.

 

The PH difference can be tasted just about in the fresh water (once you know what the values are) and the Eden Falls water does give a very slightly brighter coffee.

 

I'm guessing that a PH of 6.4 is okay - within an acceptable range - and isn't going to be too acidic over time for the boiler. A PH of 6.4 is though just outside of the acceptable range for tap water (6.5 to 10).

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You can always mix the waters to achieve a middle ground. Volvic and Waitrose Essential blend is often recommended on here and that's what I've been putting through my R58. I believe Glenn has been feeding his machine on Volvic for 3-4 years and has stated that he's not needed to descale.


Rocket R58Ceado E37SAeropressAerGrind • Puck Puck cold brew widget • VST 18g basket • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 convex black Ti/walnut tamper • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 flat sharp edge tamper • Big bag o' beans • Triumph Street Triple 675R

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Are these any good? They fit on the end of the silicon tube in espresso tanks/reservoirs, at least for the Gaggia.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Water-Softener-Cartridge-Espresso-Coffee-Machine-Maker-descaler-resin-/281948740604?hash=item41a5745bfc

Edited by nicholasj
Forgot link!

ACS Minima, Niche Zero and a VST 18g ridged basket.

 

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Are these any good? They fit on the end of the silicon tube in espresso tanks/reservoirs, at least for the Gaggia.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Water-Softener-Cartridge-Espresso-Coffee-Machine-Maker-descaler-resin-/281948740604?hash=item41a5745bfc

 

also sold by Happy Donkey - and cheaper I think - will depend how hard your water is in Malta. - just looked it up - dohh - very hard , limestone island ! It will help but you might want to use bottled water instead.


keep calm and grind flat

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also sold by Happy Donkey - and cheaper I think - will depend how hard your water is in Malta. - just looked it up - dohh - very hard , limestone island ! It will help but you might want to use bottled water instead.

 

Thank you. I am using bottled water....its local bottle water which probably means water from wells, rain and it wouldn't surprise me......the tap. But all apparently filtered etc. The bottle says ph of 7.0, calcium of 2.0 mg/ litre, chlorides of 4.0 mg /litre and sulphides less than 2.00 / litre. Doesn't mean too much to me. Maybe I'll try one.....can't do any harm, me thinks.

and a tds of less than 30.0 mg/ litre........can't be right?

Edited by nicholasj

ACS Minima, Niche Zero and a VST 18g ridged basket.

 

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Thank you. I am using bottled water....its local bottle water which probably means water from wells, rain and it wouldn't surprise me......the tap. But all apparently filtered etc. The bottle says ph of 7.0, calcium of 2.0 mg/ litre, chlorides of 4.0 mg /litre and sulphides less than 2.00 / litre. Doesn't mean too much to me. Maybe I'll try one.....can't do any harm, me thinks.

and a tds of less than 30.0 mg/ litre........can't be right?

 

Check the link a couple of posts above to determine the hardness of your water.

 

As far as I know, as the Gaggia Classic has an alumunium boiler (pre-2015) you don't want the water to be too soft.

 

See: Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ

 

http://users.rcn.com/erics/Water%20Quality/Water%20FAQ.pdf

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"That level of water hardness would kill an espresso machine ... "

 

But so may soft. My water comes from a mountain stream - pH down in the 5's when there's little run off and it's all being filtered through peat. It can descale a furred up kettle in three boils and rust a so called stainless steel one in a week! Most of the stainless out of China is recycled now I think - only marine grade SAE316 will resist it. So although your boiler etc maybe aluminium or whatever I'd bet there are stainless fittings in there too. I think the pH is the most essential thing to know. The Total Dissolved Solids is interesting but all water will have stuff in it depending where it was evaporated, where it landed, what it has run through etc. I keep hoping for some gold in mine. I'd humbly suggest aiming for a totally neutral pH - 7.0 - because only that will ensure the longevity of your equipment. (I'm not a scientist - just curious.)

 

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Thanks. Yes, after posting I did some more research and (doh!) stumbled on the PH issue.

 

The Asda bottled water - Eden Falls - is ideal in every respect except that it has an advertised PH of 6.4. The real PH could be less (could be more).

 

The acceptable cut off for drinking water is 6.5. I assume that's because of tooth decay.

 

Only Volvic has a PH of 7 and Volvic has a slightly higher than ideal calcium and magnesium content in terms of limescale.

 

I've noticed though that soft water doesn't produce such a nice drink as hard water. :mad:

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Thanks. Yes, after posting I did some more research and (doh!) stumbled on the PH issue.

 

The Asda bottled water - Eden Falls - is ideal in every respect except that it has an advertised PH of 6.4. The real PH could be less (could be more).

 

The acceptable cut off for drinking water is 6.5. I assume that's because of tooth decay.

 

Only Volvic has a PH of 7 and Volvic has a slightly higher than ideal calcium and magnesium content in terms of limescale.

 

I've noticed though that soft water doesn't produce such a nice drink as hard water. :mad:

 

Tesco's Ashbeck, which is highly used by members of this forum, has a stated pH at source of 6.2.

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7 -6.5, 6.2.... Let me put that into context.

 

Coke is 2.5

Edited by MrShades

Lots of everything: machines, grinders, roaster, beans, tampers, baskets, blah, blah

However - Too much is never enough!

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Only Volvic has a PH of 7 and Volvic has a slightly higher than ideal calcium and magnesium content in terms of limescale .

 

This isn't true, Volvic falls broadly within SCAA water guidelines (bicarbonate is a little higher than centre spec, Asda Eden Falls is outside the SCAA spec for bicarbonate), 1 part Volvic to 2, or 3 parts mix with Waitrose essential is perfect 'SCAA water' (there are several other combinations that provide this too, as well as Jim Schulman's ideal water range). Volvic is very unlikely to give you scale issues.

 

General Hardness ideal spec for SCAA water is 68mg/l, Volvic (from quoted label values) is in the region of 64mg/l (as is Waitrose Essential)

 

If there is such a thing as a readily available datum water, Volvic is about as close you get.

 

SCAA spec for PH is 6.5 to 7.5

Edited by MWJB

“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Conventional wisdom on water hardness and mineral content is changing - its worth considering the research by Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood,

 

http://www.baristaguildofeurope.com/dialogue1/2016/1/4/maxwell-colonna-dashwood-water-chemistry-and-its-impact-on-coffee-flavour

 

[video=youtube_share;VAwxrxPFEMg]


keep calm and grind flat

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Conventional wisdom on water hardness and mineral content is changing - its worth considering the research by Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood,.

 

It's not clear what Hendon/Dashwood's ideal targets for water actually are, according to the latest update to the book they are a long way from any previous standards & not easily replicated through buying bottled water. I have attempted to get close to the GH:KH ratios and found scale appearing after a few brews in my kettle, after a couple of years of using Volvic in the same kettle with no visible scale at all.


“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Just make your own water. It's easy and cheap. See various articles from Xpenno on http://grindscience.com or Matt Perger's recipe:

 

Water Recipe:

Inspired by the Water for Coffee book. All you need is bicarb soda (baking soda, NOT baking powder), epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), and distilled water. All super cheap and readily available.

 

Add 8.6g bicarb, and 25g epsom to 500g distilled water. This is your concentrate.

Shake the concentrate and make sure it's all dissolved.

Add 2g of the concentrate to 500g distilled water. This is your brewing water.

Boil and brew!

Save the concentrate for future brews!


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Link to a brief list of readily available bottled waters that in combinations stated (assuming realistic values on the label) conform to SCAA & SCAE water for boilers...

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4A2rkvegqEuOFA5RVEzaFMtd1E/view?usp=sharing


“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Just been to Waitrose today and realised that the 5L water and the 2L water bottles come from a different source, both labelled as Waitrose Essentials though.

 

5L bottle (Waitrose Essentials Still SPRING water): http://www.waitrose.com/shop/DisplayProductFlyout?productId=499460 - Very hard water

 

2L Bottle (Waitrose Essentials Still NATURAL MINERAL Water): http://www.waitrose.com/shop/DisplayProductFlyout?productId=29403

 

Which is the one we talk about in this forum.

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Buy a good PH meter (Voltcraft ?) and test the bottled waters available locally ?

 

It's about general and calcium hardness - so won't scale the machine - rather than ph.

Edited by MediumRoastSteam
Ph instead of acidity

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Just been to Waitrose today and realised that the 5L water and the 2L water bottles come from a different source, both labelled as Waitrose Essentials though.

 

5L bottle (Waitrose Essentials Still SPRING water): http://www.waitrose.com/shop/DisplayProductFlyout?productId=499460 - Very hard water

 

2L Bottle (Waitrose Essentials Still NATURAL MINERAL Water): http://www.waitrose.com/shop/DisplayProductFlyout?productId=29403

 

Which is the one we talk about in this forum.

 

This is the 5l stuff, Princes Gate, Pembrokeshire http://www.britishbottledwater.org/princes-gate/index.asp

 

Try mixing 1 part WE Princes Gate to 5-10 parts of the Stretton Hills (2l) WE water if you want to use it up.


“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Thread revival but I’m interesting in this topic. 

Ive just checked my water hardness and it’s value is 17.37 (hardness Clark) and classed as hard. 

Ph is 7.4 but that’s all I have. 

I’ve seen this thread and similar ones in anticipation of a sage barista pro turning up. I just want to make sure I get the balance right. 

Certainly seems confusing. Bottled water changing or being too low ph or too much mineral content. 

So based on my water hardness and ph, what descaling schedule should I follow and I assume I should stick to their acidic packet mix? 

Ps I had a barista express slowly die on me because I was using generic descaler solution and charcoal filters. I admit I did not change them or descale regularly enough. Maybe 2-3 times per year. My mistake. 

This time I want to get it right. Considered using bottled ashbeck before I read about the low ph and softness. 

Thanks 

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