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Hard water.... Reverse Osmosis - or - BWT / Claris / 3M regular filter


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So... i finally tested my water with one of cheap testing kits.

 

I know my water is hard/very hard - and it indicates 250 ppm, so probably in the right ballpark. The bottled water i use (forum recommendation - not this forum or country though!) looks closer to 500ppm!!!!!!! Might be time to change water and maybe descale the machine after 12 months! :whistle:

 

Have been trawling the forum and the internet and it seems a toss up between:

 

1) 5-Stage RO for £150 (£35 filters/membrane).

2) £110 for a Claris Ultra kit (2500L cartridge for £65) ... or BWT/3M equivalent.

 

Questions and concerns i don't have a succinct answer for:

 

- Is RO water good for coffee? I'm no super-taster, but i seem to recall reading the almost total absence of minerals is bad. But then i read the opposite...

- How often does one change that £35 filter set in the RO?

- BWT/Claris/3M cartridges. I recall reading that if they'r not used every couple of days they need to be flushed, or binned if not used for a few weeks. But never on any official documents. True?

 

Any insight much appreciated :)

Expobar Leva DB, Niche Zero, Torr 58.5mm, V60 & Aeropress. Dreams of an L1...

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Peak Water should be out soon, will be interesting to see if Maxwell can deliver.

 

I also heard good things about Claris Prime, it's bigger cartridge than Ultra but works bit differently and actually lowers TDS.

 

Price you quoted seems quite expensive for 5 stage RO, if your tap water is drinkable 3 stage should be enough, and can be had for around £50. RO + Third Wave water is also fairly fuss free.

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I don't want to lose counter space and don't need hot water functionality - so i suspect it's not the beast for me :)

 

Once you know more about RO, you will realise you don't lose much counter space at all, you don't lose a cupboard and if you are on a water meter, it will be cost neutral (whole life cost) compared to a conventional system....and way better. I'm surprised you never drink HW, are you an espresso and latte only person or use the machine as a kettle?

 

With a 5 stage RO system you will need to replace the filters every 6 months and ideally sterilise the system and bladder tank, or sterilise at least annually. The RO membrane replace about annually and the final filter might be a 6 monthly or annual change., so per annum around £120 overall. I have had 5 under counter 5 stage systems over the last 15 years, so very familiar with them. I'm decommissioning my current 5 stage and do not intend to get another. When I was considering replacement of my under counter system with another one...I was considering a cartridge quick change system continuous flow with no storage tank, but they were super expensive, I still lose the cupboard and have the rejection rate issue.

 

 

I've pretty much completed my review, want to do some more testing and a few more videos about how to use it (just because I feel I should, even though it's obvious). I'm doing some stuff specifically about use for coffee fanatics (us) and for any clean freaks. I am considering asking Mark B whether he can commit some time with me to look at it for brewed, if he has the time and inclination.....It also adds some magnesium and calcium back to the water 30-50ppm average, again I am writing up options for not doing that if people don't want to.

 

However, I absolutely love it, totally exceeded my expectations for such a unit!

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Ok, so if the re-mineralisation is a bit of a gimmick and it would work just fine without that, i buy that it still has some real upsides over an under the counter RO.

 

- More or less space neutral if one throws out their kettle...and makes hot water

- Saves a lot of water compared to a regular RO. Indeed, compared to a regular RO unit, it's a no brainier, unless one uses that waste water for something.

- Over 5 years, if it lasts that long, it works out at £13 a month, excluding the water bill

 

What are its advantages over a semi-commercial Claris / Bestmax / 3MScaleGuard cartridge based system + a kettle?

 

I'm not asking to be a dick, i genuinely don't know. I could be sold onto Osmio countertop, i do actually like the idea and have no real emotional bond to my kettle (and in white it would match the Niche and kitchen), but my current thought process has the following niggles:

 

- A cartridge bases non-RO system is £50 of parts and up front and £80 a year or so. No wasted water like traditional RO either. So there's the £350 up front cost difference and 'more stuff to break' that's hard to fix after that 1 year RO warranty expires.

- Removing the Osmio water tank, filling under tap, replacing, removing to empty last third, lifting 5kg of refilled water tank to back to kitchen counter...to repeatedly filling low jugs to gradually fill coffee machine tank seems...inelegant?

Expobar Leva DB, Niche Zero, Torr 58.5mm, V60 & Aeropress. Dreams of an L1...

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Ok, so if the re-mineralisation is a bit of a gimmick and it would work just fine without that, i buy that it still has some real upsides over an under the counter RO.

 

- More or less space neutral if one throws out their kettle...and makes hot water

- Saves a lot of water compared to a regular RO. Indeed, compared to a regular RO unit, it's a no brainier, unless one uses that waste water for something.

- Over 5 years, if it lasts that long, it works out at £13 a month, excluding the water bill

 

What are its advantages over a semi-commercial Claris / Bestmax / 3MScaleGuard cartridge based system + a kettle?

 

I'm not asking to be a dick, i genuinely don't know. I could be sold onto Osmio countertop, i do actually like the idea and have no real emotional bond to my kettle (and in white it would match the Niche and kitchen), but my current thought process has the following niggles:

 

- A cartridge bases non-RO system is £50 of parts and up front and £80 a year or so. No wasted water like traditional RO either. So there's the £350 up front cost difference and 'more stuff to break' that's hard to fix after that 1 year RO warranty expires.

- Removing the Osmio water tank, filling under tap, replacing, removing to empty last third, lifting 5kg of refilled water tank to back to kitchen counter...to repeatedly filling low jugs to gradually fill coffee machine tank seems...inelegant?

 

You raise heaps of issues, I have covered them all in the review and unfortunately you have a few wrong ideas about the thing. As for advantages, I can't and won't compare with all the other systems on the market, because I don't have them, have no inclination to have them installed and for many, don't like the way they work or the taste they deliver. It would also be a massive job, something I am not willing to undertake for free, or even if paid. I can only say 15 years of experience of RO make the advantages of the RO systems self evident and of course I use it for tea, coffee, Chinese tea and all drinking water, my wife only drinks 80C water, never cold and she is very picky about the taste of it. The best thing to do is read the review very carefully once it's fully finished (a few more days), because I want to do more specific coffee person stuff for machines and some extra on the sterilisation for the clean freaks. Sterilisation/cleanliness is rarely talked about with RO systems and it should be, especially the bladder tank storage type.

 

Watch every video carefully and make your own mind up on what you see. If it's not for you, it's not for you, but at least you can base the decision on facts (as far as I was able to present them). It was the system I would have chosen after researching what options were open to me on the market. I asked to review it because I thought that it might be a very good idea, as I had suggested to @MildredM that it could be a unit worth looking at. Now I can suggest it after having used it (heavily) for the last 2 weeks. If people see a use for it in their routine that's great, if they don't, or don't for reasons of cost...again no problem. The last thing I want to do is "sell" people onto an expensive system/ idea that's no good....

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Isn't the waste water for RO rather overstated? Rejection rate is typically around 3x or less depending on your water pressure, so for 10L of RO water, you'll be wasting 30L, which is not a large amount, a typical shower would use 60-70L?. AFAIK Membrane needs to be only changed every 3 years, and the inline filters (sediment/coal) about 6-12 months depending on usage, and they're rather cheap (about £5-£10 each)

 

I'm not sure about the need for sterilization, wouldn't the membrane block all bacteria? Or were you specifically talking about the post filtration tank?

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Isn't the waste water for RO rather overstated? Rejection rate is typically around 3x or less depending on your water pressure, so for 10L of RO water, you'll be wasting 30L, which is not a large amount, a typical shower would use 60-70L?. AFAIK Membrane needs to be only changed every 3 years, and the inline filters (sediment/coal) about 6-12 months depending on usage, and they're rather cheap (about £5-£10 each)

 

I'm not sure about the need for sterilization, wouldn't the membrane block all bacteria? Or were you specifically talking about the post filtration tank?

If you're on a water meter you're talkng about a 4x increase in cost for your drinoing water. Sure the waste water can be used elsewhere (toilet cistern, washing, watering the plants etc) but it would still be better if you can reduce it.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

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Isn't the waste water for RO rather overstated? Rejection rate is typically around 3x or less depending on your water pressure, so for 10L of RO water, you'll be wasting 30L, which is not a large amount, a typical shower would use 60-70L?. AFAIK Membrane needs to be only changed every 3 years, and the inline filters (sediment/coal) about 6-12 months depending on usage, and they're rather cheap (about £5-£10 each)

 

I'm not sure about the need for sterilization, wouldn't the membrane block all bacteria? Or were you specifically talking about the post filtration tank?

 

No the waste isn't overstated, for a brand new membrane it might be 3 to for a short time, but 4 to 1 or worse is typical. I actually measure mine to find out. A membrane should be changed annually, or at least every 2 years at most (yeah they don't tell you that) because if you don't the rejection rate can become a lot higher and sterlisation of the membrane chamber, often results in damage to the membrane if it jams in, as it did on one of my systems and I had to replace the membrane early.

 

there are 4 filters that need changing every 6 months, one of them might be a bit longer and it costs around 30-35 usually....remember I already own a 5 stage system.

 

I'm absolutely sure of the need for sterilisation of under counter systems having done it so often. I really wish I had taken photos of the things I have found....and although the membrane can/should block a lot of things, the way the membranes are done, it's not impossible for a little water to leak by the end seal (inside the filter housing) and contaminate the 5 litre bladder storage tank. It's why I prefer the combined filer and housing where the entire filter is changed. Also on one of my systems this exact thing happened and the membrane housing needed disinfecting. The bladder tanks always seem to get Algal growth in them and after a year or so you can see it in the tap and sometimes it starts coming out of the tap. I have had small pieces floating in the output water. Then of course it's a really deep sterilisation of the bladder tank required (the bladder itself inside the tank is particularly hard to decontaminate).

 

The other issue is measuring reject rate, you do have to account for the ever increasing back pressure as the under counter storage tank fills as this simply increases reject rate significantly. If the tank didn't build up this pressure when you open the tap to get stored RO water, nothing would come out. lastly the membrane flushing which happens often wastes lots of water for no RO production at all. We use around 16 litres per day, because I've been filling the tank 4 times a day. I'm on a water meter and that 29200 litres of waste water costs us £125 vs no cost from the Osmio, because we use all the reject water for washing up, house plants, pasta, vegetable cooking but if we didn't the 1400 litres per year would cost around £6.50

 

Try emptying your storage tank completely, see how many litres you get, then run the ro system to refill it, whilst collecting ALL the waste water and then empty the tank again. The amount of waste water - the water you got from the tank will show your true rejection rate...measure that. or disconnect your waste and collect the water from it whilst collecting 1 litre from the RO tap with your tank switched out of circuit. This will give you a best case (lowest waste) with no back pressure, just be aware it will be a lot higher with a tank creating back pressure. Then you will understand with a tanked system why it's important to fill a 4 litre container each time and not keep pulling small amounts out of the tank.

 

Over 15 years I did a lot of research into the systems and I have had 5 of them during that time (some reached end of life, others had faults, one was not pumped and no good).

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If you're on a water meter you're talkng about a 4x increase in cost for your drinoing water. Sure the waste water can be used elsewhere (toilet cistern, washing, watering the plants etc) but it would still be better if you can reduce it.

 

You would hope, but the under counter systems are plumbed into the waste pipe under the sink and it goes straight down the drain. It's not really practical to keep a huge tank outside for the waste water, although some people do actually do that, or have tried.

 

[video=youtube_share;GlaJjF1O3nk]

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You would hope, but the under counter systems are plumbed into the waste pipe under the sink and it goes straight down the drain. It's not really practical to keep a huge tank outside for the waste water, although some people do actually do that, or have tried.

 

[video=youtube_share;GlaJjF1O3nk]

I've seen houses where the waste water from sinks & washing machine/dishwasher is routed to a tank & pump for fulling the toilet cistern. It takes a bitof planning (ideally while the house is being built) but it's certainly doable & wouldn't be too much to plumb the waste from an RO into it.

Am a touch surprised you're using the waste side of the countertop unit to cook with.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

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The BWT Bestmax Premium system (head and cartridge) is a simple solution for coffee making

The peculiarity of espresso beverage is the simultaneous presence of three dispersed phases coexisting within a matrix, namely a concentrated solution of salts, acids, sugars, caffeine and many other hydrophilic substances. These phases are: an emulsion of oil droplets, a suspension of solid particles and an effervescence of gas bubbles, which evolves into a foam.

MildredM's towels, joey24dirt's tamper, MaraXprofitec, Portaspresso Rossa PG Air, Niche Zero, Aergrind, IMS and VST baskets, Hario Syphon TC3, Java Maestro dripper, Chemex, French press, Gnali & Zani moka pot, Bonavita kettle & scales, modded Gene Cafe CBR 101, BWT Bestmax PREMIUM V

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Interesting. Thanks for the replies and perspectives.

 

Dave, i dare say your review was instrumental in the following Niche got here and elsewhere. Indeed, i was on holiday minding my own business when i read it - with no intention of upgrading grinders - and half an hour later i'd backed it based solely on that detailed (p)review. Very glad i did. It sounds like you're a fan of this new Osmio. Assuming it matches workflow/lifestyle, my interest is definitely piqued. Can't wait to read/see it.

 

Short term solution might still be a cartridge as i need something asap (and only infrequently pop back to the UK to avoid international delivery costs on this kind of thing), but i'll be following this new development for sure.

Expobar Leva DB, Niche Zero, Torr 58.5mm, V60 & Aeropress. Dreams of an L1...

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.It also adds some magnesium and calcium back to the water 30-50ppm average, again I am writing up options for not doing that if people don't want to.

 

I know this will be covered in the actual review of the unit, but I'm curious about this issue you have with mineralization.

You say you don't need to remineralize the water: is it for taste issues ?

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Ah, if you want to use RO for drinking it is something else. I only use mine for coffee and tea since the tap water here is clean and tastes good. I only need about a liter a day and instead of bladder tank I use 5L containers which can be washed easily with soap. So the waste is rather minimal IF you only use it for brewing. But again this setup wouldn’t work if I wanted to use it for all drinking water needs.

Edited by the_partisan
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Ah, if you want to use RO for drinking it is something else. I only use mine for coffee and tea somce the tap water here is clean and tastes good so I only need about a liter a day and instead of bladder tank I use 5L containers which can be washed easily with soap. So the waste is rather minimal IF you only use it for brewing. But again this setup wouldn’t work if I wanted to use it for all drinking water needs.

 

I think if you only use 7 litres of water a week and like your tap water, it would be ridiculous to buy or even consider a counter top RO system, or any RO system. Just buy 5 litre bottles of machine safeish water.

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I think if you only use 7 litres of water a week and like your tap water, it would be ridiculous to buy or even consider a counter top RO system, or any RO system. Just buy 5 litre bottles of machine safeish water.

 

You can't buy bottled soft water in Denmark, almost all brands are same and are around 100ppm alkalinity/150ppm total hardness. I've tried them and didn't like the results in the cup compared to RO water. Furthermore they're only sold in max 2L bottles because of the deposit system here.

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You can't buy bottled soft water in Denmark, almost all brands are same and are around 100ppm alkalinity/150ppm total hardness. I've tried them and didn't like the results in the cup compared to RO water. Furthermore they're only sold in max 2L bottles because of the deposit system here.

 

I think this is why evidence based reviewing is so important rather than advice to an individual where you don't know their circumstances and why I keep saying to people wait for the review. Then they can read it, see how much if any of the situation applies to them, work out the numbers/benefits they personally would gain and make a decision. As a reviewer that's all I can do. For me, the use of counter top (vs under counter) RO is a no brainer, financially, technically and for convenience. Finally, the background comes out for your situation and you have clearly chosen the solution which suits you best.

 

If I didn't firmly believe in RO for coffee machine users (who are not plumbed in) and think counter top systems were much better than under counter ones...I really wouldn't have bothered to review it. I could have also (as so many do) simply said nothing bought the system and not made the effort to share the knowledge with others. I have turned down quite a few projects in the last year and I don't do many reviews nowadays and find myself less and less inclined to do so. One of the reasons for this is the constant business interests bombarding the coffee community with all sorts of things that are not really beneficial and it makes a challenging environment for reviewing/testing etc.. Take the rubbish from the SCAEE about trapped CO2 in coffee, even the smallest amount of proper experimentation and O level chemistry would have disproved it, but instead they prefer to foist the "information" onto unsuspecting consumers. People like me then find ourselves having to argue the basics against business and marketing rubbish. It's tiresome to keep fighting against this sort of rubbish and one of the reasons I don't want to do very much reviewing any more.

 

In fact worse still I find myself less and less inclined to comment on a lot of the stuff being foisted onto the consumer. Simply because the easy marketing messages and faux facts are so much more digestible than anything real. Rarely do I see any good reviews, evidence, double-blind studies or solid science behind things. I now think, well if people can afford to buy it and it makes them happy...why should I care. In fact the only thing keeping me going sometimes is a well considered post from someone about something that turns out to be interesting....I look it up and when it is, it can be quite rewarding, unfortunately it's an all too rare occurrence.

 

https://coffeeforums.co.uk/showthread.php?47595&p=646177#post646177

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I think this is why evidence based reviewing is so important rather than advice to an individual where you don't know their circumstances and why I keep saying to people wait for the review. Then they can read it, see how much if any of the situation applies to them, work out the numbers/benefits they personally would gain and make a decision. As a reviewer that's all I can do. For me, the use of counter top (vs under counter) RO is a no brainer, financially, technically and for convenience. Finally, the background comes out for your situation and you have clearly chosen the solution which suits you best.

 

If I didn't firmly believe in RO for coffee machine users (who are not plumbed in) and think counter top systems were much better than under counter ones...I really wouldn't have bothered to review it. I could have also (as so many do) simply said nothing bought the system and not made the effort to share the knowledge with others. I have turned down quite a few projects in the last year and I don't do many reviews nowadays and find myself less and less inclined to do so. One of the reasons for this is the constant business interests bombarding the coffee community with all sorts of things that are not really beneficial and it makes a challenging environment for reviewing/testing etc.. Take the rubbish from the SCAEE about trapped CO2 in coffee, even the smallest amount of proper experimentation and O level chemistry would have disproved it, but instead they prefer to foist the "information" onto unsuspecting consumers. People like me then find ourselves having to argue the basics against business and marketing rubbish. It's tiresome to keep fighting against this sort of rubbish and one of the reasons I don't want to do very much reviewing any more.

 

In fact worse still I find myself less and less inclined to comment on a lot of the stuff being foisted onto the consumer. Simply because the easy marketing messages and faux facts are so much more digestible than anything real. Rarely do I see any good reviews, evidence, double-blind studies or solid science behind things. I now think, well if people can afford to buy it and it makes them happy...why should I care. In fact the only thing keeping me going sometimes is a well considered post from someone about something that turns out to be interesting....I look it up and when it is, it can be quite rewarding, unfortunately it's an all too rare occurrence.

 

https://coffeeforums.co.uk/showthread.php?47595&p=646177#post646177

 

I totally understand your point about about marketing.

 

That's why I need your reviews :) Both to grow my knowledge about coffee and make the right purchases to have better espresso at home.

 

I'm not asking you to do more than you do, just saying that I think there's people here that really appreciate your hard work.

 

Your review of the Niche already saved me from buying a shitty grinder. Now I'm pondering much more my future purchases.

 

Sorry for the off-topic! Go ahead :)

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I totally understand your point about about marketing.

 

That's why I need your reviews :) Both to grow my knowledge about coffee and make the right purchases to have better espresso at home.

 

I'm not asking you to do more than you do, just saying that I think there's people here that really appreciate your hard work.

 

Your review of the Niche already saved me from buying a shitty grinder. Now I'm pondering much more my future purchases.

 

Sorry for the off-topic! Go ahead :)

 

And sadly your post is one of the other reasons I have eased right up on the reviewing/testing......what if I get it wrong, or partly wrong. Another responsibility that would weigh heavily on me. I could try a product and it works fantastic for me, but I could just be lucky, perhaps it technically looks fantastic, but in reality doesn't work out that way. There was a small smokeless roaster called the NIT roaster, I was all ready to give my approval to, until it almost caught fire in my kitchen...luckily only my experience allowed me to stop it before a fire developed. A less experienced user would not have picked up on the problem and cues the roaster was giving. It was a problem that wasn't easily solvable, so that roaster never came to market via Bella Barista, although I have seen it sold via other sources...if you ever see one stay well away.

 

You see I take all the reputational risk, without any of the usual benefits e.g. making money from it, or it supporting my business (which I don't have) etc..

 

I do my best, but always in the back of my mind I worry...what if I'm wrong, what if they don't last x years, what if it's not reliable etc.. etc..

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And sadly your post is one of the other reasons I have eased right up on the reviewing/testing......what if I get it wrong, or partly wrong. Another responsibility that would weigh heavily on me. I could try a product and it works fantastic for me, but I could just be lucky, perhaps it technically looks fantastic, but in reality doesn't work out that way. There was a small smokeless roaster called the NIT roaster, I was all ready to give my approval to, until it almost caught fire in my kitchen...luckily only my experience allowed me to stop it before a fire developed. A less experienced user would not have picked up on the problem and cues the roaster was giving. It was a problem that wasn't easily solvable, so that roaster never came to market via Bella Barista, although I have seen it sold via other sources...if you ever see one stay well away.

 

You see I take all the reputational risk, without any of the usual benefits e.g. making money from it, or it supporting my business (which I don't have) etc..

 

I do my best, but always in the back of my mind I worry...what if I'm wrong, what if they don't last x years, what if it's not reliable etc.. etc..

 

I totally see what you are saying here.

But from what I can tell you've always been very honest in your reviews. I personally would never blame you if the Niche burrs need replacement after 39 years instead of 40. ;)

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I totally see what you are saying here.

But from what I can tell you've always been very honest in your reviews. I personally would never blame you if the Niche burrs need replacement after 39 years instead of 40. ;)

Amen to that.

Expobar Leva DB, Niche Zero, Torr 58.5mm, V60 & Aeropress. Dreams of an L1...

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