The importance of water in the preparation of coffee

Have you ever thought about how essential water is in creating a perfect cup of coffee ? It is surprising to reflect on the fact that in an espresso, water makes up 90% of the drink, leaving only the remaining 10% for coffee. Even more interesting, did you know that filter coffee is made up of 95% water? This data highlights the crucial role of water in every cup of coffee we enjoy.

importance of water in the preparation of coffee

What is the chemical composition of water and how the elements in the water affect the flavor of the coffee

Without diving too much into complex scientific explanations, it should be noted that there are two characteristics of water that are of fundamental importance in the preparation of impeccable coffee:

  • Hardness: water contains minerals coming from the ground or captured during its journey from source to withdrawal source, including calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate. The presence of these elements determines what is called the total hardness of the water . The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has established an ideal range of values, between 50 and 175 mg/l, with an ideal hardness located between 40 and 75 mg/l, specifically for espresso. The presence of these mineral elements can in fact significantly affect the ability of the water to extract the intrinsic flavors of the coffee. It is important to note that a composition that is excessively rich in minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which are carriers of coffee aromas, can also lead to the risk of the formation of limescale deposits in coffee machines. These deposits can not only reduce the efficiency of machines, but also shorten their life cycle. On the other hand, if the water is free or deficient in minerals, the coffee may be characterless, flat and bland.

  • Purity: The purity of water is vitally important. The presence of chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant in tap water, and other contaminants can have a negative impact on the extraction of coffee, as it alters its flavour, gives it a chemical connotation or an unpleasant aftertaste and lightens the cream of the espresso.

How should the pH of water be for the preparation of good coffee?

The water used in preparing coffee should tend towards a neutral or slightly acidic pH , ideally falling between values ​​of 6.5 and 7.5. Any deviation from these ranges can affect the balance of flavors in the drink.

What is the ideal temperature for good coffee extraction?

The temperature of the water in coffee preparation should fluctuate between 90°C and 96°C . Water that is too hot risks extracting unwanted compounds, giving the coffee a bitter taste. On the other hand, if the water is too cold, the extraction will be incomplete, dulling the taste.
Temperature is therefore a critical element in obtaining a perfect cup of coffee.

Solutions for quality water

The choice of quality water in the coffee preparation process becomes an aspect of vital importance. Here, therefore, are some solutions on the market:

  • Softeners: remove calcium and magnesium and replace them with sodium, acting on permanent hardness, but not on taste.
  • Activated carbon cartridges: can control the alkalinity and presence of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, positively influencing the extraction of the coffee.
  • Water filters: they represent a valid ally for eliminating chlorine, impurities and some particles that can compromise the taste of coffee.
  • Filter Jugs: Designed to improve the quality of drinking water by reducing chlorine, limescale and unwanted metals.
  • Reverse osmosis: This process completely filters solids, creating distilled water that must be remineralized to obtain the desired water. This process is long, complex and expensive.
  • Bottled waters: in bars and restaurants, it is common to use bottled waters selected for their specific mineral composition, in order to keep the flavor profile of the coffee constant. The ideal water for a good espresso has a hardness with values ​​between 8 and 15 French degrees and a low fixed residue.

The choice of water based on the extraction methods

Water plays both a physical and chemical role in the preparation of coffee. Physically, it determines the extraction as it passes through the ground coffee, while chemically it affects the dissolved substances that create the flavors in the cup. Water acts as a solvent and ingredient in the process.

It is important to note that ideal water hardness varies depending on extraction methods.
For example, filter coffee requires water with a lower concentration of mineral salts. While "pressure" extractions require water with more mineral salts to improve the body and creaminess of the drink.

Finally, it is interesting to note that in the world of coffee there are dedicated competitions, from tasting to roasting and café competitions. In these competitions, participants not only choose the coffee to present, but also select the most suitable water and bring personal bottles. This shows how attention to detail, including water management, can further raise the bar for great coffee . Every step and every component counts, confirming that coffee preparation is a true art.