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Thread: The importance of filtered water

  1. #1
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    The importance of filtered water

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,

    I just wanted to canvass opinion on the importance of using filtered water in espresso machines. From what I have been told, it is important and becomes more important the harder the water is in your home. Is it a do or destroy your shiny machine in the long term type of scenario?

    How often would a machine using filtered water exclusively need to be descaled and should this be carried out annually as part of a professional servicing?

    In light of my recent espresso machine purchase and following the wisdom of those who know a lot more about this than I do, I have taken the step of purchasing an under-sink filter set up that is plumbed in to the kitchen tap. I hope this is going to do the job for me.

  2. #2
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Hi System2002,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

    Filtering comes in many shapes and sizes, and without knowing the specifics of yours and the specifics of your water, any judgement is only guessing. Most under-sink filters will not change the hardness of the water at all.

    Most filters will take out sediment, some filtering also takes out most dissolved minerals (reverse osmosis) and is not recommended without replacing some of the minerals. Some r.o. water can taste flat and consuming too much can reportedly leave you short of essential minerals. It also can harm espresso machines.

    IIRC the recommended level of mineralisation for taste and safe use is about 50-75 ppm.

    For what its worth I put all my espresso water through a .5 micron charcoal filter, after it has had the mineral content balanced. Charcoal filters this fine take out most solids and the resulting water is clear and tastes fine.

    I hope this helps.

    Post some specifics about your filter and machine and Im sure some targeted help will be forthcoming.

    Greg


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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Hi system2002 and welcome to CS,

    In Adelaide (and especially Perth) the water is very hard and will deposit scale in your boiler quite quickly. Melbourne water is pretty good and the rest of Australia somewhat harder (but varies with location, time of year etc.

    Yes, SOFTENED water is important (not FILTERED water) to prevent scale build up. You will notice I emphasise softened.... as that is the process which reduces the hardness of the water. Most water filters you purchase remove any off tastes, sediment, the chlorine, some remove bacteria.... but few reduce the hardness as it is not harmful to health..... just coffee machines.

    You can buy special softening cartridges..... or you can use a Britta filter jug.... they do reduce hardness but the element needs to be changed fairly often....

    Scale deposits can shorten the life of the element and deposit on the autofill sensor (if you have one) and that will cause the boiler to be overfilled. Preventing scale build up is a better alternative to descaling..... but both will work to restore normal operation.

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Hi there
    I use a Britta jug to filter the water i put through our machine.
    I have had the machine 2 years now and it went for a service about 6 months ago and i was told that it didnt need a descale but the water coming out had minor traces of milk, not enough to be a problem but the descale process involves a cleaner as well and was advised to carry this out.

    Personally i didnt notice any difference and i believe its always better to be guided by the experts.

    Mal

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    What about using bottled water? Would this have any benefits over unfiltered/unsoftened tap water?

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    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Quote Originally Posted by flatwhite link=1230967639/0#4 date=1231028010
    What about using bottled water? Would this have any benefits over unfiltered/unsoftened tap water?
    Dont think so Alan. Check the analysis on calcium levels on the side of the bottle as they probably vary and compare with your home region.

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Quote Originally Posted by flatwhite link=1230967639/0#4 date=1231028010
    What about using bottled water? Would this have any benefits over unfiltered/unsoftened tap water?
    Generally bottled water has lots of calcium and other minerals..... some hardness does make the coffee taste better.... but you dont want too much!

    What some do is "blend" demineralised or distilled water (zero hardness) with bottled water (generally too hard) to get the correct level.

    This could also be done with tap water and demineralised water..... however unlike bottled water, the calcium content in tap water varies with location and time of year etc.... bottled water is far more consistent.

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Thanks all for the information, I must admit I hadnt researched water hardness when I went in to buy a filter - all I had been told at that stage was you should be using filtered water in your machine. I have been really geeky and conducted some research at the Sydney Water website since my original post.

    Apparently the resovoir that out water comes from currently has a total water hardness rating of between 51 - 65 mg CaCO3 / L. According to which resource that you then go to, this is classed as either between soft / good quality or slightly hard to moderately hard. It is stated that increasing scale problems are experienced beyond 200 mg CaCO3.

    I have purchased the following filters: NON-Sponsor link removed by Mods. Chatting with a rep today, I am told that the filters, beyond removing chlorine, sediment, pesticides, heavy metals, giardia etc, will soften the water to some extent (however these are not reverse osmosis filters and will not completely remove all of the minerals present in the water) - I hope it does enought to place the water into the soft category. Im happy that at the very least it will be clean water going into the machine.

    In addition, my plan is to have the machine serviced every 1-1.5 years and include descaling in that process as required. I will be using a Rocket Giotto Premium Plus (cant wait ;D)


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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    That all sounds like it should work OK.

    The dissolved mineral content sounds close to ideal. Here in southern Adelaide it is about 3 times that level, with total dissolved solids at 8 times.

    Here is a quote I found online about water for espresso to maximise taste-

    "These are the SCAAs recommendations (from the 2004 Atlanta
    conference):

    Total dissolved solids (TDS): Ideal is 125-175 ppm, with above 250 or below 75 definitely needing correction.

    Calcium hardness: Should be 17 to 120 ppm, with anything else definitely needing correction.

    Iron: 0.

    Chlorine and chlorinates: 0.

    These numbers were not pulled out of the air. SCAA and its volunteers did a lot of taste testing in their labs to reach these numbers. The water treatment SCAA uses themselves at their Long Beach HQ produces about 150 ppm TDS."

    There is an "Insanely Long Water FAQ" by Jim Schulman at http://big-rick.com/coffee/waterfaq.html

    Have fun getting it great.

    Greg

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Wow, that FAQ was like a thesis. *Thanks for the help Greg.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    Off topic replies have been moved to [link=http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1231154868/0#0]This Thread[/link]

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

    What about the filtration method used ... I read that Reverse Osmosis filtered water is actually bad for espresso machines?

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    Re: The importance of filtered water

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    Quote Originally Posted by au_d2 link=1230967639/0#11 date=1231197480
    What about the filtration method used ... I read that Reverse Osmosis filtered water is actually bad for espresso machines?
    True.... especially for machines with a fill level sensor which requires a level of dissolved minerals to function (conduct electricity).... Also totally demineralised water affects the taste of the coffee (in a bad way!)

    You can add minerals back into the water produced (there are commercial products available for this)...... but to me it seems the wrong way round! You can also mix some "raw" water with the RO water to achieve a similar effect.

    Or just use a water softener!



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