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Posted (edited)

Espresso & boiler friendly water:

Not all water that meets non-scaling parameters makes coffee that tastes nice. The shorthand answer is to find water with a bicarbonate level between 50-80mg/L as ion/bottled water label (as CaCO3 alkalinity this would be 40-60mg/L) for your espresso machine, that tastes nice. If your water is in this range and all your coffee tastes bad, change the water for different one but still in this range.

 

Using a particular water that doesn't scale, but is of a make up/so soft that makes your coffee taste bad/low body isn't a great idea. Plus you generally want some bicarbonate & a pH over 6 to lessen the chances of corrosion. It's swings & roundabouts, very soft water won't scale but can cause corrosion, harder water is less likely to be corrosive, but more likely to scale.

 

If Volvic tastes OK, no need to change. Volvic sits just outside of recommended spec for boiler care, but just outside, lots of folk will testify it's fine regarding lack of scaling. Waitrose Essentials Lockhills is smack bang in the middle of desired range, the only UK bottled water that is.

 

Here's a link to UK bottled waters & mix ratios to achieve boiler friendly water...

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/187vd8fjVQGCrvaoEz071BoSEOl-IY3rTl0-fZXLGx1w/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

Manual brewing

Choices are much wider here, kettles are easier to descale if necessary. The make up of the water has no impact on objective extraction yield, you don't need high mineral content to extract the flavour. Water make up does change the taste of the coffee, so just use a water that doesn't ruin your coffee (this could still be Volvic or Lockhills if that's what you can easily get).

 

You probably don't want your brew kettle scaling up if it has its own element, but if you get good brews with high mineral content water & your kettle & brewers are easy to clean/descale, then carry on. But bear in mind, high mineral content water usually also comes with high bicarbonate, which can flatten acidity and make the body seem overly chewy.

 

I personally like to use very soft water at home for brewing, using a steel/glass kettle, because I like the taste & clarity (~GH 20mg/L & KH 20mg/L as CaCO3, such as Deeside, or Voss but it's very expensive, or a mix of Zerowater & tap).

 

At work, or visiting friends & relatives, I use regular N Surrey tap water (hard). I still get some very tasty brews here, especially with long steep immersions. As an example of difficult water to brew with, I found the water in Menorca very hard to get a decent drip brew & had to use some bottled Estrella I, which is similar to Highland Spring in make up & the softest water I could reasonably find there.

Edited by MWJB

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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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That’s great, thank you.

 

I wonder if it is worth adding @todays date then if the water changes in Volvic etc in the future it won’t be misleading information.


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That’s great, thank you.

 

I wonder if it is worth adding @todays date then if the water changes in Volvic etc in the future it won’t be misleading information.

 

Thanks :-)

 

I think if the properties change significantly, then I'll just remove the references to it. A bit of variation is normal for any source, but a big change might be the result of something catastrophic and we'll probably get a heads up on that.


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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That mixing sheet is brilliant - loads of ideas to try there.

 

I don’t have the relevant App to interrogate the schedule - are those ratios automatically calculated from a record of the mineral analysis of each, or from your own fag packet workings?

 

I need to start mixing my stockpile of Ashbeck to improve taste so I’ll try and drive to Waitrose this weekend.

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That mixing sheet is brilliant - loads of ideas to try there.

 

I don’t have the relevant App to interrogate the schedule - are those ratios automatically calculated from a record of the mineral analysis of each, or from your own fag packet workings?

 

I need to start mixing my stockpile of Ashbeck to improve taste so I’ll try and drive to Waitrose this weekend.

 

The ratios are calculated from the bottle label values, from a separate spreadsheet, I entered them on to the google sheet manually.

 

These suggestions are for a non-scaling, non-corrosive water in line with current recommendations. Taste is somewhat of a separate issue.


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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So unfortunately the 5l bottles of water in waitrose Westbury Park are Princes Gate

bb27b87bea86c82e7a9a662c9c7603ec.jpg

 

Luckily they stock Lockhills in multipacks of 2l though.

 

Not entirely happy about the extra plastic wastage from smaller bottles but looking forward to trying in place of Ashbeck.

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Posted (edited)

Luckily they stock Lockhills in multipacks of 2l though.

 

Not entirely happy about the extra plastic wastage from smaller bottles but looking forward to trying in place of Ashbeck.

 

Is that a case of just going to the shop and picking the right one?

 

The online listing says Stretton Hills - https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/essential-waitrose-still-natural-mineral-water/058459-29415-29416

 

I've been feeding my machine straight Volvic from day one, but this is half the price and we do all our of shopping (online) from Waitrose anyway.

 

On another note - has anyone tested their water straight from the tap compared to running through a filter?

I have an L-R coming later this week, and I've kind of been back and forth whether I continue to use Volvic, try something else, or use the inline filters with the machine with tap water.

Edited by Mister_Tad

Londinium R | Ceado E37S | Torr Goldfinger

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Careful on the online delivery - you can’t specify the water you will receive - as above, both were the Essential water, so either could have arrived at your door. Maybe order and just send back with the driver if they send you the wrong source.

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Thanks for organising this as a sticky and to MJWB for his expert advice...


GS3 and Versalab M3; Vario Home, Aeropress and Kalita Wave

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I picked up some Lockhills yesterday, and noticed that the calcium content is higher than has been previously posted...

 

26 vs 20 - with everything else the same. This would be just enough to push it outside the sweet spot though. Anyone else notice this?


Londinium R | Ceado E37S | Torr Goldfinger

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I picked up some Lockhills yesterday, and noticed that the calcium content is higher than has been previously posted...

 

26 vs 20 - with everything else the same. This would be just enough to push it outside the sweet spot though. Anyone else notice this?

 

If everything else is the same, it adds a tiny bit of total hardness, which is not an issue.


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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I have been using ashbeck for at least 6 months with some of my espresso brewing equipment, does that mean it will have caused corrosion? I will swap to volvic mixed with ashbeck 1:1.

I thought the ashbeck was a safe bet as most people on here seem to advocate using it, that's why I used it.

 

Thankyou for posting this, I am grateful for the info and the time you have taken to compile it.

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I have been using ashbeck for at least 6 months with some of my espresso brewing equipment, does that mean it will have caused corrosion? I will swap to volvic mixed with ashbeck 1:1.

I thought the ashbeck was a safe bet as most people on here seem to advocate using it, that's why I used it.

 

Thankyou for posting this, I am grateful for the info and the time you have taken to compile it.

 

I wouldn't panic, unless you have some tangible sign of damage. But, yes, for peace of mind going higher on the alkalinity & pH wouldn't be a bad thing.


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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I wouldn't panic, unless you have some tangible sign of damage. But, yes, for peace of mind going higher on the alkalinity & pH wouldn't be a bad thing.

 

how would I know if there was corrosion/ what would the signs be? do I need to open the machine and check internals?

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how would I know if there was corrosion/ what would the signs be? do I need to open the machine and check internals?

 

If it is easy enough for you to do, then sure. Probably pitting on surfaces that get the highest temps & pressures (boilers & group).


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

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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I’ve been using filtered softened water in my sage barista express machine and have never really found the espresso to be exceptional. Thank you for this thread! 

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