Coffee: Why The Water Makes A Difference
In the same week a water-only cocktail bar opens at London's Selfridge's we look at how different waters impact on the taste of your coffee.
Why does coffee taste different when you make it at work as opposed to at home? You used the same coffee beans, ground to perfection, carefully measured them out, added the same amount of water and brewed in the same way for the same amount of time. What was different? It was the water.
You've grown accustomed to your tap water at home, but you might inadvertently be compromising on coffee flavour. Depending on where you live it, the water could be very hard or super soft. Neither of these extremes are great for coffee, which is why coffee professionals recommend using bottled or filtered water.
Think of water as a solvent that you will use on the coffee to dissolve the flavours that you enjoy. It's the minerals present in the water that determine how effective it is at extracting the flavours within the coffee. Different waters have different mineral content and therefore work differently upon the coffee.
Tasting the same coffee made with different waters can be a real eye-opener
Try this experiment: Select three different supermarket own-brand bottled waters and make a coffee with each. Apart from the water keep everything else the same. Taste one coffee against the other. Consider sourness, sweetness, how it feels in the mouth, after-taste and any stand out flavours. Make notes if it helps (coffee professionals do). Choose your favourite water and stick with it.
You don't have to use bottled water, but we would at least recommend using a filter jug to filter your tap water. Do remember to change the filter regularly.
Ensuring that you always brew up with the same water, gives you control over another variable in the coffee brewing process. The benefit of this is that next time you try a new coffee, you can be sure that you are comparing it all that have gone before, on a like-for-like basis.
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