Quite often whilst discussing coffee and tea with people, one of the more common comments relating to consistency is that replication of flavour can vary, whether it be from café to café that use the same blend or café to home use.
There are, to me, many factors that can cause this, from freshness of the ingredient (coffee more so than tea), brew recipe (ingredient/water/contact time), type of equipment used for brewing (espresso, French press, stove top, etc),
but what if all these factors are the same? What else could there be?
At Guat’s Up! we filter all our water using a Reverse Osmosis water filter system. A commercial unit of good quality that removes all the minerals from the water and allows us to put back in our desired amount. This can massively impact on the flavour of the drink as a high percentage of the final beverage is water, which has been infused.
Standard tap water may ‘taste the same’ to the untrained palate, but actually contains too many minerals (especially East Anglian water) to allow the coffee or tea to be absorbed by the water and therefore produces a slightly dulled beverage. Take all the minerals out though and this can cause over-extraction of the infusion and, in turn, an overly bitter product. Gadzooks!
In order to get around this issue we reblend in some of our local tap water to a target TDS (total dissolved solids aka mineral content or dry residue) to 150ppm (parts per million) and calibrate this with some digital wizardry. Magnesium is the favoured mineral for coffee and tea and it can really enhance the flavours, not always prevalent in local supplies though.
PH levels in the water are also key in prolonging equipment life, some water filters produce highly alkaline water, supposedly with health benefits, but completely destructive to expensive equipment.
If you want to use the best water at home for brewing, try Tesco Ashbeck or Acqua Panna (glass bottles FTW).