As with all craft products, the raw ingredients used in the process greatly impacts the final product. Along with proper tools and quality ingredients, the type of water used to brew coffee can greatly affect the how you might experience your coffee.
“Hard” Water: Water high in calcium and magnesium; may lend a metallic taste.
“Soft” Water: Water high in sodium; may lend a slightly salty taste.
The presence of minerals is necessary for a quality cup of coffee, and can create a more well-rounded flavor. Many factors affect this “minerality,” especially in well water, and the balance of these minerals can vary over time. Darker roasts can mask mineral changes more, since they contain a robust flavor and often have a long finish. But a light roast with a soft and subtle flavor can be highly affected by the mineral content of water. Matching the type of roast you brew to the water used can be advantageous in brewing a well-crafted cup.
A&E takes great care to make sure this base ingredient is up to snuff as well. The well water at our Amherst café can be variable so we use reverse osmosis to keep it consistently in an ideal range for the coffee we brew. Likewise, the Manchester café is city water, which is consistent, but may not be in an ideal range for the coffees. Thus, we are sure to filter the water to keep it in its ideal range.
Things to Note with Hard Water:
Hard water can create build up on equipment such as boilers, kettles and temperature probes, making these items susceptible to corrosion. Combat build up by cleaning equipment with citric acid, or soaking pieces in a citric acid bath.