We drink it everyday. Some of you from a plastic bottle, others from the faucet tap. In addition to quenching our thirst, or staving off dehydration, water also acts as a solvent. Because it's a solvent, it gets to sit at the table in our conversation about brewing better coffee.
Coffee is 98 to 99 percent water. It's why some people can get by on drinking coffee only in their life. Yes, there are some people who just don't drink water, but rather drink coffee and other liquid consumables ONLY.
This will be familiar to all reading, not all water is the same. Maybe you remember visiting family in another town, or state, and after a long visit or friendly game of softball you go to the tap for a cold refreshing drink of water and there it is, BAD WATER!! It might even have an odor to in addition to a funky taste. I am sure you can all relate.
Well here's a shocker....nasty tasting water will produce nasty tasting coffee. When brewing coffee, good tasting, fresh water is crucial. If you have good tasting, fresh water from the faucet, USE IT. If your water struggles a bit, that is it's taste and or smell misses the mark, then a basic carbon-filter pitcher will help. Chlorine tasting or smelling water is common in the United States, (in addition to some other metals) and the good news is that these retail filter pitchers do an amazing job and you can find many reasonably priced devices in your usual store or online outlets.
Water despite it's liquid, and clear form is full of minerals and other substances which allow it to be a solvent. It's these minerals that gives water a taste and also why we don't want to strip water of all minerals and substances. Magnesium and calcium are really good at pulling the flavors out of coffee so straight distilled or soft water is not the ideal water to use as the solvents have been removed and won't pop out the flavors we are after from the bean. Water that is void of minerals will create acidic, or sour tasting coffee. Conversely, mineral water will have way to much calcium and magnesium making it too hard translating into bitter and dull tasting coffee.
Some coffee enthusiasts are enjoying water additives like Third Wave Water. Third Wave Water is a scientifically designed additive to distilled water that claims to be just the right mineral additive to pull out the optimal flavors from coffee. We’ve no association with Third Wave, but I can say it makes an awesome cup of coffee when combined with all other factors for brewing better coffee. You can find them online if you’d like to try it out.
If your coffee has a funk to it, it may not entirely be your beans, grind, method or temperature. It's possible making an adjustment to your water could be a key factor in brewing better coffee.
Finding these tips interesting? The book, Craft Coffee: A Manual: Brewing a Better Cup at Home by Jessica Easto and Andreas Willhoff Contributor, 2017 was used as a reference for this article.