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Discussions > Coffee > Q and A > Who understands...  
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Lee_M
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Lee_M
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 1:23pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

My suggestion was mostly out of curiosity, not actual knowledge. I certainly wouldn't suggest adding hardness to your water if you're making espresso, but if you're just brewing coffee and not getting any scaling, I think it'd be interesting to see if you could make better coffee with water adjustments. We know that chloride and sulfate have a major impact on beer flavor. Why not give it a shot? Compare unadulterated water with (1) a calcium chloride addition and (2) a calcium sulfate addition.
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tdifraia
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 1:28pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

Excellent point. I would think it would change the taste for the better.

Lee_M Said:

My suggestion was mostly out of curiosity, not actual knowledge. I certainly wouldn't suggest adding hardness to your water if you're making espresso, but if you're just brewing coffee and not getting any scaling, I think it'd be interesting to see if you could make better coffee with water adjustments. We know that chloride and sulfate have a major impact on beer flavor. Why not give it a shot? Compare unadulterated water with (1) a calcium chloride addition and (2) a calcium sulfate addition.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

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D4F
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

tdifraia Said:

Excellent point. I would think it would change the taste for the better.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

Unfortunately that is bias.  Have someone make up different batches of water "blind" to you and then taste test.

 
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Netphilosopher
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 2:38pm
Subject: ...
 

...
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D4F
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 2:50pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

Netphilosopher Said:

I'd add crushed eggshells.  Add calcium carbonate alone, and let the acidity of the coffee dissolve the calcium during brewing.  This is something proven to change the taste of coffee with blind tasting.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

I had read that, but I was more referring to the posters ability to taste it before changing what he was doing.  I should have been more clear.

 
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jpender
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 6:26pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

Lee_M Said:

Why not give it a shot?

Posted March 1, 2013 link

What, exactly?

I really don't have a handle on this subject and the brewing water calculator didn't make it any clearer to me.
I don't want to add things randomly.

Calcium chloride and calcium sulphate? How much?

Eggshells?? Large, extra large, or jumbo?
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Lee_M
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Posted Fri Mar 1, 2013, 7:07pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

jpender Said:

What, exactly?

I really don't have a handle on this subject and the brewing water calculator didn't make it any clearer to me.
I don't want to add things randomly.

Calcium chloride and calcium sulphate? How much?

Eggshells?? Large, extra large, or jumbo?

Posted March 1, 2013 link

Well, let's say you want to get to 150ppm TDS. You're at 132ppm, so you want to add 18ppm of salts. 1ppm = 1mg/l. If you were using pure calcium chloride or calcium sulfate, you'd want to add 18mg per liter of water. However, the salts you can buy are usually the dihydrate form of calcium chloride and calcium sulfate, meaning they contain two molecules of water per molecule of salt. This works out to about 20% of the molecular mass of calcium sulfate, and 25% of calcium chloride. Therefore, to add 18ppm TDS, you'll need to add ~23mg per liter of calcium sulfate, or ~24mg per liter of calcium chloride. That'll still leave you with very soft water, and may not have a detectable flavor impact. You'll need a scale accurate to at least 10mg (unless you want to treat very large volumes of water), but you can get one for ten bucks these days.

You can also try to match some of the target water profiles on the brewing calculator, listed under Water Target Report. Most of these have considerably higher levels of calcium, chloride, and sulfate. To use the calculator, just choose your total water volume, input your water report under Source Water, then play around with different salt additions until you match the target. Adding gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate) will increase calcium and sulfate levels, while adding calcium chloride will increase calcium and chloride levels. In beer, sulfate is said to enhance bitterness, while chloride is said to enhance sweetness, but I don't know if it has the same effect in coffee.

Calcium carbonate, AKA chalk, will increase calcium levels as well as alkalinity. I expect that adding eggshells to brewed coffee would change the flavor mainly by raising its pH.
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jpender
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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2013, 12:42pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

jpender Said:

What, exactly?

Posted March 1, 2013 link

Lee_M Said:

Well, let's say you want to get to 150ppm TDS. You're at 132ppm, so you want to add 18ppm of salts....Therefore, to add 18ppm TDS, you'll need to add ~23mg per liter of calcium sulfate, or ~24mg per liter of calcium chloride. That'll still leave you with very soft water, and may not have a detectable flavor impact.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

So that suggestion isn't a good one?

Lee_M Said:

You can also try to match some of the target water profiles on the brewing calculator, listed under Water Target Report.

Posted March 1, 2013 link

I don't know exactly what it is about this subject but I feel like a useless moron whenever I try to understand it. When I was a homebrewer our tap water was nasty so I started with R/O and made additions based on what I had read elsewhere. I didn't really understand what I was doing. I still don't.

If this was your water, would you do anything? If so, what?
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Lee_M
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Posted Tue Mar 5, 2013, 10:13pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

Well, here's the thing. I've never adjusted my water for coffee (beyond filtering), and hence don't really know if you SHOULD do anything. But it's something I've been meaning to try for awhile, so I encourage you to do so as an experiment. I'd do it myself, but I'm waiting on a water report for my new place. Check back with me in a month.

There are two ways that you could approach this. A cautious approach would be to try the additions I recommended for 150ppm TDS. This will certainly make good coffee, but you might not be able to taste the difference.

More radical adjustments to your water are more likely to make your coffee better, but also more likely to make it worse. I just don't know. I haven't done the experiments yet, and I don't have access to any good information on this matter. If you want to try something that will probably make a tastable difference, I would try matching the Balanced Profile. 0.13g/l of calcium chloride and 0.12g/l of calcium sulfate will you get you there. Bear in mind that this will put you at about 350ppm TDS, and you may start to see scaling.
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jpender
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jpender
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Posted Wed Mar 6, 2013, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Who understands water?
 

Lee_M Said:

Well, here's the thing. I've never adjusted my water for coffee (beyond filtering), and hence don't really know if you SHOULD do anything. But it's something I've been meaning to try for awhile, so I encourage you to do so as an experiment. I'd do it myself, but I'm waiting on a water report for my new place. Check back with me in a month.

There are two ways that you could approach this. A cautious approach would be to try the additions I recommended for 150ppm TDS. This will certainly make good coffee, but you might not be able to taste the difference.

More radical adjustments to your water are more likely to make your coffee better, but also more likely to make it worse. I just don't know. I haven't done the experiments yet, and I don't have access to any good information on this matter. If you want to try something that will probably make a tastable difference, I would try matching the Balanced Profile. 0.13g/l of calcium chloride and 0.12g/l of calcium sulfate will you get you there. Bear in mind that this will put you at about 350ppm TDS, and you may start to see scaling.

Posted March 5, 2013 link

I appreciate the time you've spent thinking and posting about this.

What I get is that: (a) you say you're not a water expert; (b) minor adjustments to attempt to match coffee brewing ideals will probably result in indetectable changes, taste-wise; (c) doing crazy-shit to the water might help, will probably hurt, but could be fun. Might as well throw some tofu in there and see if it improves the flavor.

I think I'll just leave it be.
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