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Thread: Filtration for Espresso Machines- Compulsory Reading

  1. #1
    TC
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    Filtration for Espresso Machines- Compulsory Reading

    Hi all,

    Most CSers are aware that filtered, softened water is best when it comes to espresso machines. One thing I have noticed is that many machine users think that filtered water for drinking will be fine. More often than not, scale causing elements are not removed from drinking water.

    This means that your fridge filter but most likely the one under the sink as well are for drinking water only and to your espresso machine, may as well be unfiltered.

    We recently received a great guide from site sponsor Bombora supplies. I have scanned and attached it as I feel it will be a useful resource for all CSers.

    Chris
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Javaphile; 13th July 2013 at 05:59 AM. Reason: Fixed link

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Bernard from Bombora has also started a series on water quality and filtration in BeanScene starting from this months edition. Eye-opening!

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 7F75607777786C6A190 link=1245022812/1#1 date=1245023553
    Bernard from Bombora has also started a series on water quality and filtration in BeanScene starting from this months edition. Eye-opening!
    This will be great for all...

    Rather than attempting to explain teh basics... A recommendation to go out an but the mag... :-)

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Can anybody comment on the effectiveness of a ceramic water filter - ie one that draws water through porous ceramic members? No chemicals, just filtering - but a fine filter at that. I assume that this doesnt have a softening effect, but perhaps in Melbourne thats not such a big deal.

    great BeanScene article! Thanks.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 292D717372787D656F1C0 link=1245022812/3#3 date=1245847799
    Can anybody comment on the effectiveness of a ceramic water filter - ie one that draws water through porous ceramic members? *No chemicals, just filtering - but a fine filter at that. *I assume that this doesnt have a softening effect, but perhaps in Melbourne thats not such a big deal.

    great BeanScene article! *Thanks.
    Nope- it will make great drinking water but will never remove dissolved substances....



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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Hmm thanks for the info. Sad to hear it. I wonder whether those german Britex setups that you get at the supermarket are any good (carbon filter). I better contact Bombora in the morning and see what the best way is for filtering water for domestic, non-plumbed machines (ECM Giotto P.).

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    If you dont have access to rainwater, then as far as I know most of Australias reticulated water will benefit from softening as well as a good carbon filter.

    I mix rainwater:Adelaide water at approx. 3:1 for the HX and feed the boiler when I can with pure rainwater. Both are filtered through a .5 micron carbon filter.

    Using this formula my La San Marco lasted 25 years without a de-scale, and when the group [s]died[/s] wore out, the boiler was almost like new.

    Greg

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Greg, thanks for the formula. Sounds like the proof is in the pudding there. 25 years sounds reasonable. The Bombora or brita products seem like they may do the trick, seeing it never rains.

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 27237F7D7C76736B61120 link=1245022812/7#7 date=1246010275
    The Bombora or brita products seem like they may do the trick, seeing it never rains.
    If I had to choose, Id go for the Bombora--the Brita are made to supply drinking water, not espresso brewing water.

    As far as the rain goes--that is outside my influence. ;D

    Greg

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 516473714179647B777A72160 link=1245022812/8#8 date=1246026467
    As far as the rain goes--that is outside my influence.
    But not mine. ;)

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    well to be honest filtered water doesnt make much taste difference to me but it does make a difference to the boilers and scale as previosuly stated. Such machines like Gaggia automatic platinum machines come with a water filter from the factory.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Filters do bugger all for scale. Scale is formed by dissolved metals becoming insoluble and a filter will not remove dissolved solids (as 2mcm has said above :)). Calcium and magnesium are the biggest offenders for forming scale but iron and aluminium contribute too. To remove dissolved metals you need ion exchange resin or pretreat the water. Pretreating water with chemicals to soften it is not easy and if not done correctly is as bad as not doing anything.
    Activated carbon is excellent for removing organic chemicals from water but is pretty hopeless at removing metals so you generally see packs of ion-exchange resin followed by carbon to first remove the metals then the residual organics - this is the standard de-ioinsing process used in industry and provides ultra high purity water. The measure used to determine the water purity is resistance, where I work we dont use water with a resistance of less than 18megaohms/cm (pure water has a resistance of 18.2 megaohms/cm) Note, Ive said nothing about filters or filtering. All a filter will do is remove particulates.

    Im an industrial chemist and my world revolves around pure water - just in case your wondering who this know-it-all-knob is ;) :)

    You can buy or rent deionising/demineralising sytems for home and they do work very well, being just miniature versions of what I use at work they make just as pure water but on a smaller volume :)

    Edit: Okey dokey, just jumped onto a computer with adobe and read the bombora pdf. For me its a no-brainer Id jump straight to the IX resin cartridge, the scalegard pro. If the water isnt as hard it just doesnt do as much exchange which equals longer resin life. The higher purchase price would be clawed back.
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Ive been thinking since I posted last night and thought I should explain a bit of my post above.

    Bombora are offering two options for scale prevention in your machine, inhibition and softening.
    Inhibition is simple that. You are not removing the offenders just modifying their behaviour to stop them from forming scale. Softening is removing the offenders and replacing them with much nice people (<thats a technical term :D)

    All the above is purely technical, now some personal preference comes into play and the following is my personal preference. Adding inhibitors is fine and is more cost effective. If I was putting it in a boiler and reusing the water over and over again for heating, Id go this option. But Im not, Im putting it in water that I want to drink. We are so anal about getting everything else right, why add a chemical that may alter the taste of the coffee? I use ion exchange resins every working day. They are mavellous beasts that only take out what they have to and do no more. Theres no issues of dosing (either under- or over-dosing) and they remove the offenders. And if you know a little chemistry you can monitor and regenerate them - but really its a PITA and I just pay for a new cartridge :)
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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Ive been using a Bombora Scale Inhibitor system for some time now and am very happy with it. Initially, I tried a resin exchange system and when compared with the inhibitor system, I cant really pick any effect from either, on the palate.

    Like you though, I opted for the system which was easiest for me to deal with in my circumstances, and chose against the resin exchange. Given that neither system seems to add or subtract anything from the coffee flavour profile (that my son and I could detect), swapping out a cartridge every 12 months or so is a very convenient option for me.

    Mal.

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    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Hi Mal

    Just wondering if you have kept the resin cartridge that comes with the Diadema connected, or youve found it superfluous due to your kit from Bombora?

    Cheers!


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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I have a five stage undersink filter and I use water from it to fill the Bezerra BZ99 water container, I found however the water is so pure that there are no ions or sediment or whatever you call it in the water, and the machine turns itself off because it trips the low water failsafe switch. I only found this out by trail and error and a mention of it in another well known coffee site. The BZ99 has 2 screws connected to the electronics in the water tank and if the water gets below those screw heads it shuts of, I now use filtered water and tap water half and half to avoid this happening, too pure water can trip the low water failsafe in some machines.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 0F2E252522384B0 link=1245022812/14#14 date=1252446484
    Hi Mal

    Just wondering if you have kept the resin cartridge that comes with the Diadema connected, or youve found it superfluous due to your kit from Bombora?

    Cheers!
    Dennis, I just installed a water filter from Bombora under my sink after my twin drinking water filter system, they informed me that I can now remove my in tank resin cartridge.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 1A3B3030372D5E0 link=1245022812/14#14 date=1252446484
    Hi Mal

    Just wondering if you have kept the resin cartridge that comes with the Diadema connected, or youve found it superfluous due to your kit from Bombora?

    Cheers!
    Actually,

    I asked Attilio about this Den and he suggested that I could leave it as is, in service purely as a particle filter or substitute it for a simple particle filter. At this stage, Ive just left it in situ. The only reason a particle filter may still be needed is to protect against small foreign particles that might fall into the water tank while Im filling it. Probably not a huge risk of that happening but such a small measure to take as prevention seems a reasonable precaution to me... :)

    Mal.

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    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines


    Thanks for that Mal. :)

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 426F6B676A060 link=1245022812/13#13 date=1252417751
    Ive been using a Bombora Scale Inhibitor system for some time now and am very happy with it. Initially, I tried a resin exchange system and when compared with the inhibitor system, I cant really pick any effect from either, on the palate.

    Like you though, I opted for the system which was easiest for me to deal with in my circumstances, and chose against the resin exchange. Given that neither system seems to add or subtract anything from the coffee flavour profile (that my son and I could detect), swapping out a cartridge every 12 months or so is a very convenient option for me.

    Mal.
    All fair enough:) and its good to hear that there is no discernable difference but I will make the comment that if your water is fairly low in hardness you should be changing your IX resin infrequently as well :)
    Ill stick with IX because of the above reasons plus I hate adding chemicals to stuff I eat/drink - rather ironic given that I make my living from chemistry :D

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 59485D5B461C290 link=1245022812/15#15 date=1252477911
    I have a five stage undersink filter and I use water from it to fill the Bezerra BZ99 water container, I found however the water is so pure that there are no ions or sediment or whatever you call it in the water, and the machine turns itself off because it trips the low water failsafe switch. I only found this out by trail and error and a mention of it in another well known coffee site. The BZ99 has 2 screws connected to the electronics in the water tank and if the water gets below those screw heads it shuts of, I now use filtered water and tap water half and half to avoid this happening, too pure water can trip the low water failsafe in some machines.
    We use these sensors at work, they work by detecting electrical current passing b/w the screws. When there is no current it assumes that the water has fallen below the level of the screws. Unfortunately, as you have found, ultra pure water is not a conductor and give a false low level reading.
    Your *IX system is obviously a "de-ionising/de-mineralising" system which is a significant step up from a "softening" system both in ion removal effectiveness and cost.
    Im not trying to be nasty here, hopefully Im being helpful, but adding tap water is undoing all the good work that the system has just done -calcium and magnesium are being added back into the system so scale can still form. There are two better options that I can offer
    1) Add a pinch of table salt to each tank. It only has to be a few grains, preferable not the iodised variety.
    2) Downgrade to a "softening" system that specifically targets calcium, magnesium and iron but leaves the rest (mainly sodium and potassium) in the water. Your system will have the softening cartidges plus a few extra. It should be as simple as re-pluimbing to exclude the un-needed cartridges. Of course this is no good * if you need the de-ionised water for other purposes :)

    ps Ive tried to make this a simple explanation and left out a lot of technical detail and inside chemistry knowledge so I hope this makes sense ;)
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Thank you Brewman for the advice. Ill be taking it up.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 526275677D717E100 link=1245022812/19#19 date=1252538240
    but I will make the comment that if your water is fairly low in hardness you should be changing your IX resin infrequently as well :)
    My choice to go this way, was mainly related to my experiencing a significant deficit of both strength and dexterity after suffering a series of strokes a few years back. As a result, I ended up with resin particles all over the kitchen counter and floor after trying to carry out some simple maintenance. With the Bombora system being a simple bayonet attachment for the filter cartridge, it is simplicity itself for me to manage; no other reason really.

    Appreciate what you say about the consumption of added chemicals but if you could see the vast number of poisons I have to consume, otherwise described as medication, a micro-dose of a basically benign substance is neither here nor there for me..... ;)

    All the best,
    Mal.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Hi Brewman and Patro5,

    Well put Brewman, Im a coffee newbie with some chemistry, but with no claim to competence.
    I would suggest the use of particle filters plus a cation exchange column/cartridge. If the cation exchange resin was prepared and regenerated into the sodium/potassium form, the resultant filtered IX water produced should function ideally in the Bezzara boiler: no Ca, Mg, Fe scale similar conductivity and TDS values to original untreated water with normal water level switching in the Bezzara.

    If the Full water purification system was also for the production of water for other purposes, then a T adaptor could be used in the line (post particle filters) to create a Bezzera only line which would include the sodium/potassium IX resin column/cartridge.

    Kind Regards
    Lindsay

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Im currently experimenting/trialling a new system from Bombora which seems to be working well. Bernard was very helpful, and if you ask nicely Im sure he would oblige again.

    It is a new combo of an ion exchange softener and a 1 micron carbon filter, so uses only two cartridges. It installed easily under the sink, included a very nice tap for the top of the sink, and provides me with nice tasting water for drinking, cooking and COFFEE!

    According to my aquarium water test kit the general hardness went from 161 ppm to 35.

    Greg

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Hi everyone,

    Im waiting on my new Giotto to arrive. I found this thread while looking through the forum.

    I had no idea water could be so technical :o

    I have read that the brita water filter systems dont work. We have an Awesome Water filter wondered if it is the same and how it would go on my Giotto. Has anyone used these systems for their machines?

    Also is above eliminating scale or minimising the scale?

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Cant seem to find any info on the net about how "awsome" the awesome filter is I would suggest that it doesnt affect the scale problem too much. Generally all products do is to minimise scale not eliminating the problem completely.

    If you think this is technical you should do a search on water and espresso machines, many days and nights of reading. :D

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I would be contacting Bombora, a site sponsor

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 26130406360E130C000D05610 link=1245022812/6#6 date=1245926810
    If you dont have access to rainwater, then as far as I know most of Australias reticulated water will benefit from softening as well as a good carbon filter.

    I mix rainwater:Adelaide water at approx. 3:1 for the HX and feed the boiler when I can with pure rainwater. Both are filtered through a .5 micron carbon filter.

    Using this formula my La San Marco lasted 25 years without a de-scale, and when the group [s]died[/s] wore out, the boiler was almost like new.

    Greg
    Just came across this....very reassuring as Ive been using 100% rainwater in my machine since new. I boil it first and then pass it through a Brita jug after it has cooled to remove any sediment and organic material.



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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Id try adding some proportion of tap water to get the mineral content up into the "good tasting for coffee" range. If the water is too soft the coffee can taste a bit flat. Try 3 rain to one tap and see how you go. This should still be below scaling level mineralisation.

    Greg

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Thanks Greg - Ill give that a try. I wouldnt describe my coffee as tasting flat but it does often taste burnt - to do with cooling flushes no doubt but thats off topic for this thread.

    If your machines havent rusted out with 25% Adelaide tap water run through them then it must be safe!

    Brisbane tap water isnt very soft but nothing like the stuff from the Murray.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 1F2A3D3F0F372A3539343C580 link=1245022812/6#6 date=1245926810
    I mix rainwater:Adelaide water at approx. 3:1 for the HX and feed the boiler when I can with pure rainwater. Both are filtered through a .5 micron carbon filter.
    maybe I missed something here, but is there a reason to not use 100% rainwater in espresso machines?

  33. #33
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 6E7B7F6C7D7B671E0 link=1245022812/31#31 date=1264352890
    maybe I missed something here, but is there a reason to not use 100% rainwater in espresso machines?
    Taste for one.

    Some units need minerals in the water for the electrical sensors to read correctly.

    Greg

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 4E7B6C6E5E667B6468656D090 link=1245022812/32#32 date=1264376698
    Some units need minerals in the water for the electrical sensors to read correctly.
    I didnt realise that rain water didnt have enough to activate the sensor? So its the process from the dam to us that places teh necessary minerals? I just thought it was RO water that had the problem.....oh well, learn something new everyday hey! ;)

  35. #35
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 6D694F5656534C5B543A0 link=1245022812/33#33 date=1264379164
    I didnt realise that rain water didnt have enough to activate the sensor? So its the process from the dam to us that places teh necessary minerals? I just thought it was RO water that had the problem.....oh well, learn something new everyday hey! ;)
    I suspect that the minerals in dam water are leached from the waters contact with the soil, both during run-off and while sitting, and not from the dam to the house. Even the very highly mineralised water from the Murray originally fell onto the catchment areas as rain.

    My rainwater doesnt touch the ground at all--straight into the tank from the roof. The last time I had it tested it didnt have enough minerals in it to register on a TDS meter, and the coffee from it definitely tasted a bit flat although it ran the machine OK.

    Greg

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Installed my new Water Filter hardware from Bombora yesterday.... Photo Below:

    After flushing a few litres through the new setup as recommended, a series of TH tests revealed the following results...

    Water In - ~100ppm
    Water Out - 15-20ppm

    A terrific result for sure and subsequent brews today after flushing out the Boiler and Thermosyphon were very nice indeed; pretty good before too as it happens ::) ;)

    A big thank you to Bernard for his assistance and advice in this filter upgrade, much appreciated.... [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

    Mal.


  37. #37
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I see you got the "Bazooka" version Mal!

    If its the same as mine (and I think it is) there was absolutely no scale present in the group jets (.75mm) of my machine after 12 months in service.

    Not bad eh? :)


  38. #38
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    No mate, that sounds excellent.... 8-)

    It is a bit like a Bazooka isnt it ;D.... A bit tricky getting it to fit under the sink though ;)

    Mal.

  39. #39
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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I just fitted a Brita filter / softener from Bombora as well. Its replacing a scale stopper 3M filter which was used for about a year before that.

    Adelaide water in: 130ppm
    out: 30ppm

    This filter has a bypass valve which was set to 30%, when achieving the above.

    Ive fitted a T piece as well, and plumbed it into the laundry mixer tap so it can also be used for drinking water.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I have been using 25% water run through a brita jug, 75% reverse osmosis water. The thinking being this will cause less scale than 100% brita water, yet still be safe for the water level probe. So far so good, and water tests confirm.

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    Which water filter to use???

    Im in the process of upgrading to either a Bezzera Galatea Domus or a Rocket Giotto Evoluzione and have decided to throw a water filter into the mix to ensure I look after the new baby!

    Can anyone shed some light on how far I need to go with a filter? Would a 2 or 3 stage filter be sufficient or am I best to go for the reverse osmosis filter?

    I have been told by a water filter company that a reverse osmosis is the only way to take out all chemicals including fluroide and not have any scale but not sure if its going too far. Also I want to use the filter for drinking water as well so dont really want to take out the fluoride.

    Any thoughts??

  42. #42
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    Re: Which water filter to use???

    I recommend you talk to Bombora.

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    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Re: Which water filter to use???

    Ive got something from this page for my GPP
    http://www.bomborasupplies.com.au/home.php?cat=8718

    cant remember which one though. I think it cost just over $100 for parts from Bombora and then another $100 worth of parts to get it all hooked up. Pressure regulation valve, tap, couple of water hoses, fittings etc

    A plumber friend of mine did all of that for me, you might have it set up slightly differently to me if you go for a plumbed in machine.

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    Re: Which water filter to use???

    First comment is that MOST of the mass marketed water filtration companies are built on marketing spin and bulldust. Doesnt apply to professional companies such as Bombora.

    Before you go anywhere near R/O filtration you need to consider the water quality going in. If it is already fairly clean and low in mineral content then you can get to a point where the boiler autofill wont work resulting in burnt out elements for a start. There are ways to avoid this such as remineralizer cartridges.

    I am running R/O water after a sand and a triple stage filter but we also have bore water to start with :P Resulting taste and taint is as good or better than rain water and it still contains trace minerals which work fine on my Autofills.

    Rough guide on most decent water supplies would be a good sediment filter followed by a 1 micron Carbon and then look at a Bombora conditioning filter after that.

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    Re: Which water filter to use???

    I have pretty good water to start with (around 150ppm) but using a little portable RO filter it eliminates all the minerals. I then add back about 20% brita jug filtered water to put back in some minerals so that the autofill sensor can work. Works very well and no scale after 1.5 yrs. I will definitely stick with RO, it just works so well and is cheap in the long run.

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    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    I also recommend Bombora. *I have an older Cuno (now 3M) FS10 housing and Karen from Bombora tracked down the correct cartridge, which at $70 delivered gives me 6000 litres of purification (they have another that offers 10,000 litres.

    My water quality is not great due to internal plumbing being old, but the filter is awesome.

    Main thing for me was the service and expertise of Bombora.
    b430m likes this.

  47. #47
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    58

    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    How do you test water quality in and out; TH test?

    I know mine is cruddy going in and OK coming out of my filter but that is through taste, maybe not that accurate after 4 million coffees (and maybe a red wine or three) in my 50 Years?

    Is there a simple, testing process?

  48. #48
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Warwick, QLD
    Posts
    15,333

    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Quote Originally Posted by 5B5F5C595759300 link=1245022813/46#46 date=1297245229
    Is there a simple, testing process?
    There sure is.... ;)

    Contact Bombora and enquire about the TDS Test Strips....

    Mal.

  49. #49
    Site Sponsor Di_Bartoli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    647 Botany Road, Rosebery, NSW 2018
    Posts
    877

    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Koligi and Mal;

    we have this TDS Test Strips now in our online shop available.

    http://www.dibartoli.com.au/product/Water_Hardness_Test_trips_x_10

    regards


    Renzo
    Di Bartoli Home Barista Centre

  50. #50
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    58

    Re: Water filtration and espresso machines

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Ok- great news, thanks Renzo

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