Best Water For Coffee: A look at filters, distillers, and water additives.
Have you ever taken a sip of a painstakingly prepared cup of coffee, opened your eyes wide in disgust, and run for the sink to spit it out? As you pour the rest of the coffee down the drain, you think: “Geez, I got the fancy coffee maker, high-end coffee beans, weighed it out to the gram, ground it to the right coarseness, heated the water to the right temperature, used the right filter… and it still tastes like crap! What am I missing here?”
The answer might very well be one thing: water.
If you use crappy water, you’ll end up with some crappy coffee. So what is the answer then? Filtered water? Distilled water? an additive? Where do you even get the best distilled water for coffee? That’s what we’ll answer here.
Let’s break down the options for the best water for coffee.
Brondell RO Circle Water Filter System
Affordable reverse osmosis system
Very compact and suitable for all kitchens
The six-liter tank refills in an hour
The Best Water For Coffee: 6 Options That Will HUGELY Improve Your Brew
The water you use for coffee plays a significant role to make that perfect brew. So let’s get into our top picks:
1. Brondell RO Circle Water Saving Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System – Best Overall
If you’re looking for an affordable reverse osmosis system, the Brondell RO Circle Water Saving Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System (wow, that was a mouthful!) is the perfect answer. This four stage RO system is compact and can fit under your sink, out of the way. It’s easy to install and comes with a nifty chrome faucet. It has been designed to eliminate back pressure, allowing it to use much less water in the purifying process – and making it an environmentally-conscious choice, too!
The International Water Association (IWA) notes that reverse osmosis systems efficiently remove between 90-99.99% of all contaminants, as well as trace minerals, from drinking water.
The unit does not require electricity to run, and comes with a warranty. Best of all, its six liter tank refills in an hour, leaving you with a steady stream of good, RO water. However, this system does not come with a mineralizing stage, which means the water comes out very clean, but also very flat and empty.
If you want to make coffee with it, you may want to consider remineralizing.
2. Peak Water Pitcher Starter Kit – Best Water Pitcher
The Peak Water Pitcher is made in the UK. It’s one of very few water filtration pitchers designed specifically for coffee. Of course we love it. If you’re buying it for the first time, definitely opt for the whole starter kit. The kit includes the 1.2-liter water jug, a filter, two test trips, and a user manual. That’s right, it’s a water pitcher with a user manual. It’s that advanced!
The idea is to use the test strips to get a baseline of the contents of your tap water. With this, you’ll know exactly what adjustments need to be made to achieve perfect coffee brewing water. You can adjust the filtration using the knob on the top of the pitcher to remove what you don’t want, like chemicals and harsh odors. Otherwise, you also keep what you want, like the dissolved minerals known to enhance coffee flavor.
In fact, if you’re a serious coffee nerd, you can even use the pitcher’s adjustments to dial in your water for specific beans or roast levels. We tend to think of dialing in our grind size or dose when preparing coffee, but why not our brewing water too? After all, coffee is 98% water!
3. The ISpring RCC7AK 6 Stage Reverse Osmosis System – Best Reverse Osmosis
The iSpring RCC7AK Reverse Osmosis System is about as good as it gets with RO systems. It’s better than drinking bottled water. It’s not a quick fix for your coffee needs, but is a perfect solution for those interested in investing in some uber high-end drinking water for their home… and coffee.
It takes all of the contaminants out of your water, and once that’s done, it proactively adds natural minerals back in, balancing the water and getting the pH levels perfectly neutral.
These minerals include magnesium, calcium, and sodium – all important things to have in that perfect cup a joe (2). The fifth stage that this system includes uses coconut husks as a pure form of carbon to further enhance the water’s taste. All the benefits considered; I must admit its not cheap. But when compared with buying bottled water? Or water mineral packets? This thing will pay for itself within a few months.
4. Brita Stream UltraSlim Water Filter Dispenser – Budget Pick
Brita is probably one of the most recognized names in water filtration. And that’s for a good reason; they have a ton of expertise in the field. Their designs are straightforward, affordable, and get the job done. Case in point, this UltraSlim water filter dispenser, our favorite budget method for great coffee brewing water.
The Brita filter removes unwanted tastes and odors typically found in municipal water supplies, most notably chlorine, which will certainly negatively affect your morning java.
It has a remarkably high capacity given its slim design, holding 25 cups of water in a rectangular dispenser just 4.4 inches wide. And at only 10.25 inches tall and 16 inches deep, it will fit comfortably in most fridges, even smaller models found in apartments.
Each filter should last approximately 40 gallons, so Brita recommends you replace it every 2 months. But if you’re only using filtered water for coffee, you’ll get far more longevity, making this an even more affordable choice. A nice bonus? you don’t even need to keep track of how much water you’ve used because an onboard LED changes from green to red when it’s time for a replacement.
This dispenser is already a great budget option, but you can also save even more by bundling it with a pack of replacement filters when you buy.
5. WaterDrop WD-FC-06 – Best Tap Water Filter
One way to have a reliable source of filtered water is to get it straight from your tap. There are many options for faucet mounted water filters, and most are incredibly affordable. Our favorite of the bunch is the WaterDrop WD-FC-06 Faucet Water Filter, which is not the least expensive but is definitely the best overall value thanks to its durable stainless steel design.
Yes, it reduces chlorine and bad tastes and odors. But it also removes sediments, rust, and heavy metals thanks to an advanced carbon block filtration medium. Interestingly, the carbon blocks are made from eco-friendly Sri Lankan coconut shells, and the entire set-up is certified lead-free and BPA-free.
The WaterDrop has an excellent 0.5 gallon per minute flow rate, which is higher than most. And just as important, it’s very stable at that rate, which is not always the case. You can count on about 320 gallons of water before swapping out the filter, which is considerably more than the Brita dispenser. It’s also very easy to switch between tap water and filtered water if you want to make your filters last longer.
This faucet filter is a piece of cake to install and works with almost all faucet designs. That said, of course be sure to double check that yours will work before you buy.
6. Third Wave Water – Designed for Coffee
This final option involves more than just purifying or cleaning your water. You’re officially making water for coffee at this point. But don’t worry, it’s a lot easier (and interesting) than it sounds.
Between a successful Kickstarter in January of 2017 and then an appearance on Shark Tank that October, Third Wave Water did not take long to turn into a national phenomenon. The idea? To make water perfect for your coffee.
The concept is simple. Add a capsule of Third Wave Water’s mineral-enhancing mixture to a gallon of distilled water and give it a shake. The resulting water is not void of minerals nor is it overloaded with them. Like Goldilocks, this mineral water is just right.
Water is very rarely just water. It will always have something called Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)… Magnesium, calcium, and bicarbonate are three common compounds, and they all have a strong impact on the flavor of your brew.
The Third Wave Water formula includes magnesium to bring out the sweetness and to help with extraction, calcium for a balanced body, and sodium to magnify the flavor profile. So whether you’re using one of the distilled water or reverse osmosis water options above, you can grab a package of Third Wave Water to give you a convenient and scientifically accurate way to get perfectly balanced water for the ultimate cup of coffee.
Everything You Should Know About Coffee and Water
So what is the best H20 for coffee in your machine, French press, Chemex, Keurig – or whatever method you use to brew?
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that go into your coffee water.
Q: Why Does Water Matter In Your Coffee?
Water is an important part of your coffee brewing experience. After all…
Coffee is 98% water.
With that said, the SCAA standards state that for a superior quality coffee extraction, your water should be clean, fresh, odor-free, clear in color, and should have a mineral content of around 150 parts per million (ppm), while the best water pH for coffee is 7.0 (neutral) (3).
Notice it does not have a specific kind of water or filtering process, just general ranges. This isn’t a life or death scenario here. In other words, it’s safe to use tap water for coffee. In fact, there are coffee makers that can be connected directly to your water line. It just might not taste that great. For those who are not overly scientific about the process, a general rule of thumb for the water you use in your coffee is to use water you actually like to drink.
But if you want to take it one step further and make your coffee taste even better, you need to better than ‘drinkable water’. Okay, so you don’t have to use a water filter in coffee making. But there are many benefits to finding a good balance to your water.
Q: Do I Need A Special Distilled Water Coffee Maker?
While there are some sources that argue you may want to be careful running distilled water through your coffee machine, there is not a line of distilled water coffee makers out there specially designed for the task.
Bed Bath and Beyond just haven’t gotten around to it yet… So for now you can probably stick with what you’ve got.
Q: How Can I Protect My Equipment?
Easy – by following the advice I’m about to give you.
It’s no secret that water can ruin your coffee equipment (4). An overabundance of minerals (which are not bad for your coffee itself – in moderation) can build up and wreak havoc on your equipment. Cleaning your machines can be a good idea, but distilled water for coffee machines, or other proper filtration options for your coffee water, can also be a preventative of future chaos.
I Think My Tap Water Tastes Funny…
The one that’s pretty easy to spot (or taste!) is the flavor of your coffee. If it’s got that hard water egg taste or chlorine flavor from city tap water, it will definitely make a difference. Try it. Do a taste test!
Try some water from friends who live in different areas than you. Notice a difference? Once you’ve gotten a good comparison, see what kind of water you’re working with. Does it hold up for making coffee, or do you need to find an alternative?
Q: Should I Use Soft or Hard Water?
The debate rages.
Hard water has more minerals – magnesium and calcium in particular – that can help with extracting the coffee (5). On the other hand, you want a certain amount of minerals (remember, about 150 ppm) versus potentially hundreds of ppms in unfiltered or unpurified hard water.
Okay, so hard water can be rough to work with. What about soft water? Well, while a water softener can be helpful for a good many things, this is not one of them. The main exception where water softeners can be best is for espresso machines, as espressos do not need minerals (6) for the brewing process and the machines can clog easier.
PRO TIP: If you’re feeling ambitious, have your water tested for hardness and get a good feel for the pH and mineral levels. Remember to check it against the SCAA standards.
Q: What About Distilled Water For Coffee Machines?
So, hard water seems alright, but has its problems. Soft water is a bad idea. Can you make coffee with distilled water, then? Once again the debate continues regarding whether distilled water is good for coffee or not. However, the truth is, it’s just not as simple as a yes or no answer.
The reality is that straight-up distilled water can create a pretty sucky cup of coffee.Why? It’s missing the minerals!
That’s right. The very minerals filtered out of distilled water in bulk are actually needed in smaller amounts in order to get that ideal coffee taste. However, distillation (or reverse osmosis, as we’ll explain below) can actually be part of the process of getting the perfect coffee water. You just might need to doctor up that water a bit as one final step.
Distilling water is something you can do at home, as you can see below.
You should know by now, however, that this is a painstakingly long process. If you choose to go the distilled water route, it’s worth getting an automatic water distiller.
Before we move on, though, let’s take a quick look at reverse osmosis.
Reverse Osmosis Water For Coffee And How To Prepare Purified Water
In short, reverse osmosis is a complex process that removes all minerals from water (7). As we now know, this is no good, as it creates a flat cup of coffee, with absolutely no character. However, some systems can actually reintroduce a good level of minerals back into the water, thereby balancing it and making it just right for your coffee.
But even if you start with distilled water or a reverse osmosis system that doesn’t rebalance your water, you can work from there by adding minerals back in yourself (8), or using an option like Third Wave Water (we covered them above).
All about water quality and coffee brewing in our video below:
The Only 3 Coffee Water Categories You Should Be Looking In:
Before we look at the various water filters, purification methods, and distilled options below, let’s quickly recap the three kinds of water that are generally good to use with coffee:
- Filtered: This is simply water that has been cleaned of any major impurities but still remains fairly “natural” in its makeup, mineral content, etc.
- Purified: Purified water has been thoroughly cleaned up, and has all (or nearly all) of the elements – both good and bad – removed. Often, purifying systems like reverse osmosis can add good things like minerals back into the water.
- Distilled: Similar to purification, this method removes all good and bad particles from the water, cleaning it and leaving it void of anything but good ‘ol H2O. It is not great for coffee (unless you’re using a pressure brewing method, e.g. for espresso) but can be an important step toward getting the best water for your coffee.
So, is your head swimming with options? Remember to keep in mind that searching for the best water for your coffee machine is not the same for everyone. What kind of coffee are you making? What kind of water are you working with?
Just remember the goal: to clean up that weird water taste in your coffee.
Whether it’s coming from the chlorine content of your tap water, an overabundance of minerals, or another issue, getting your water balanced is the key to a good cup of coffee.
That’s why our choice for the top water purifying system is the Megahome Countertop Water Distiller. Compact and easy to fit on the counter, this machine is tried and true.
Though the distillation process can be slow, once done, you get a perfect batch of distilled water, kept safe and untainted in the glass collection bottle. Whatever coffee you plan to make, if it requires distilled water, this machine won’t let you down. Just add water, wait for the collection bottle to fill and, hey presto, you’re equipped with the best distilled water for coffee.
- Exposure to Chemicals in Plastic. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2019, Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/plastic
- Barista Hustle Water Recipe. (2017, May 08). Retrieved July 5, 2019 Retrieved from https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/barista-hustle-water-recipe/
- Coffee Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://sca.coffee/research/coffee-standards
- Butterworth, M. (2016, February 24). Scale Prevention. Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://freshcup.com/scale-prevention/
- Coffee Brewing: Water Quality. (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2019, From https://www.coffeereview.com/coffee-reference/from-crop-to-cup/brewing/water-quality/
- What is the best water for brewing coffee or espresso? (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2019, From https://www.thecoffeebrewers.com/whisbewaforb.html
- Blue Water Group. (n.d.). Tap water, minerals, toxicity and reverse osmosis. Retrieved July 4, from https://www.bluewatergroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/White-paper-5_new-identity.pdf
- DIY Water Recipes: The world in two bottles. (2019, February 20). Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/diy-water-recipes-the-world-in-two-bottles/