How can you make water perfect for brewing coffee?

Around 98 percent of each cup of coffee you brew is water. However, water is rarely simply water. It contains varying amounts of a variety of minerals and organic compounds, depending on your geographic location.

Each of these minerals and organic compounds – primarily calcium, magnesium, and carbonates – has a unique effect on how coffee extracts behave and taste. This means that regardless of the quality of your coffee, your water may be preventing it from achieving its full potential.

I spoke with Jennifer Yeatts and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood to learn more about how water temperature and quality affect coffee. Continue reading to learn what they told me.

You might also enjoy our article on water testing in the pursuit of exceptional coffee. Before we discuss water quality and mineral content, let’s examine water temperature.

Jennifer Yeatts is the Director of Coffee at Higher Grounds Trading Co., a Michigan-based B-Corp roaster.

“When brewing coffee, you want to keep the temperature of the water between 90°C and 96°C (195°F and 205°F) to extract the best flavours,” she explains. “If this temperature range is not maintained, extraction will be reduced and flavour will be lost.”

Jennifer explains that during the brewing process, water extracts a number of volatile flavour and aroma compounds that contribute to the flavour of coffee.

If the water temperature is too high, controlling the extraction process may become more difficult. This is due to the rapid release of volatile compounds.

A certain percentage of these compounds are bitter or sour in flavour, which means that when an excessive amount of them is extracted, the coffee’s bitter or sour flavour can become more pronounced.

Additionally, the darker a coffee is roasted, the more of these compounds are present. Because darker roasts are more soluble than lighter roasts, lowering the temperature can help reduce the risk of overextraction.

Jennifer points out that this is one of the modules covered in Higher Grounds’ barista training course. Additionally, she asserts that the proper equipment (such as temperature-controlled kettles) can assist brewers in more effectively managing temperature.

Along with filtration systems, temperature-controlled kettles can help maintain consistent brewing temperatures. She also recommends gooseneck kettles, whether or not they are temperature-controlled, because they provide greater control over the flow rate.

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