Water plays a key role in the art of making great coffee.
Buying treated water or using a home filter is the first step toward good coffee.
The water should contain the acceptable amount of minerals, be moderately hard and moderately alkaline, and have an ideal pH (the balance between acidity and alkalinity). The chemical composition of tap water is different all over the world, which makes a water filter very important.
When brewing coffee, the water temperature should be between 194°F (90°C) and 209°F (98°C). If the water is too hot, the coffee will be bitter; if the water is too cool, the coffee will be flat and unsaturated.
Here's how hot your water should be when brewing different roasts:
If you want to know more about brewing temperature, James Hoffman gives an excellent explanation:
What Is Important When Choosing Water?
No matter what kind of coffee you prefer, the quality of the water and the beans are the two main components of a delicious coffee.
The water should not be too soft or too hard.
Water should be transparent and odorless, have a mineralization level of 100 mg/l (0.0035 oz/fl oz), and have a chlorine level of zero and a pH of 7.
The water from a grocery store's generic brand is usually less mineralized than water from name brands.
If your tap water is hard, you should buy a bottle of mineral water and brew coffee with it. The flavor of chlorine is common in tap water, but a charcoal filter can eliminate unpleasant tastes.
The hardness and mineralization of water have a serious impact on the coffee preparation process.
The hardness of the water shows how much calcium and magnesium are dissolved in it. When hard water is heated, white limescale forms and builds up on your coffee maker over time.
The harder the water, the more soluble substances are extracted from the coffee grounds—this includes bad flavors. Brewing with hard water can result in a cup devoid of complexity, sweetness, and nuances of taste. It's best to use water that is only moderately hard.
When using an espresso machine that heats the water itself, it's best to use soft water so no limescale builds up. Limescale can cause coffee makers to malfunction.
Coffee to Water Ratio
The Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) generally recommends a 1:17 ratio of coffee to water.
But of course, everyone can and should choose their own proportions to make their perfect coffee.
For your convenience, we have collected the standard proportions of coffee and water in the most popular brewing methods:
Drip and Pour-Over: Hario V60, Chemex, Kalita
In many American homes today, one of the most common appliances you will find is an electric drip coffee maker, which works similarly to the pour-over method.
In the pour-over method, the water passes through a coffee filter by gravity and the brewed coffee flows freely into a cup or other container.
Immersion Methods: French Press, AeroPress, Siphon
When brewing with immersion methods, coffee and water are in contact for the entire time. Coffee can be brewed via the immersion method in a French press, AeroPress, or Siphon.
If you have just started experimenting with this method, start with a ratio of 1:15 for a standard cup or 1:11 for a strong drink.
It's also important to remember Turkish coffee. This is brewed via a complete immersion method that doesn't even use a filter. Such coffee is brewed in a cezve and is stronger than other immersion coffees.
What about the Moka Pot? The method is quite common in European countries. You need to be very vigilant to make coffee with it, as it's easy to overheat and burn the coffee. Here are the recommendations:
Lovers of retro style may still use a percolator, the predecessor of the Moka pot. The main difference between the two is that in the Moka pot, hot water boils and runs through the coffee grounds just once while in the percolator, it boils and passes through the coffee grounds many times. This gives percolator coffee a sharp, bitter, flat taste.
Generally speaking, cold brew is also brewed via immersion, but it's a little different from the standard immersion methods because the water isn't heated. Also, you have to be careful with the ratio or you'll just get brown water rather than delicious coffee.
What Is a Good Espresso Brew Ratio?
Espresso machines have been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years, especially in the United States. Perhaps you have already thought about buying one of these wonderful machines.
Since espresso machines can vary greatly, it is difficult to accurately calculate the perfect coffee-to-water ratio. However, our advice for the optimal ratio can be found in the table below.
In our posts about each of the brewing methods, we will also reveal more about how to use water with these methods.