Category • Blog articles

Water Quality – What is it and Why is it so Important?

Jess | July 21, 2020

Your everyday cup of coffee is made up of about 98% water so there’s no wonder why using high-quality water makes all the difference in taste, as well as to the life of your equipment. In this blog, we’ve got everything you need to know about the water quality in your coffee so you can enjoy the perfect cup, every time.


Water in the UK

We’re fortunate that here in the UK, we have some of the best quality drinking water in the world. However, over 60% of people in the UK live in hard or very hard water areas which can affect its taste and leave your water, and your coffee, tasting bitter. Rainwater is naturally soft when it falls from the sky but as it comes into contact with the ground, it gains its hardness, which is why the levels range depending on location across the UK.


What is water hardness?

Water hardness is measured by the number of mineral deposits it has in parts per million or PPM. A soft water area typically has under 60ppm while a very hard water area could have more than 180ppm. Hard water tends to be rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium, whilst soft water will be rich in sodium.


The main issue with hard water is limescale. When hard water is heated, calcium and magnesium break down and precipitate to form solid limescale that affects its taste. Not only that though – it can cause issues with the reliability and longevity of office appliances like kettles, boiling taps and coffee machines as it builds up and makes cleaning more difficult.


How does water quality affect your coffee?

According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the official water standards for brewing coffee is that the water must be clear in colour and contain no odours or chlorine. There are also specified acceptable ranges for total dissolved solids (TDS), calcium hardness, total alkalinity, pH and sodium content.


The SCA recommends that water used for brewing coffee should be anywhere between 75-250ppm TDS. We recommend around 100ppm. This is because if the ppm is too low, the water won’t have sufficient force to extract all the flavours in your coffee which will result in a flat taste. On the other hand, high on the scale will mean the coffee is over-extracted and will taste bitter. So what can you do if you live or work in an area that has very soft or very hard water? We have the answer!


The perfect blend

Firstly, you’re going to want to choose premium grade coffee beans so you know you’ll be drinking good quality coffee with a rich taste. And when it comes to the water you’re brewing your coffee with at work, all you need is a scale management filter on your office coffee machine or boiling water tap. FreshGround’s expert team will be able to test your water and find the right level of filtration to provide the optimum taste for you and your team. A scale management filter will also mean that your mains-connected machine will have minimum downtime as you reduce the risk of limescale build-up.


For a hand-fill office coffee machine you’ll also need to take care of scale, with a regular descaling cycle. Usually your machine will prompt you when it needs a descale, which is super easy to do using dissolvable descaling tablets.


If you’re concerned about your water quality at home as well, we recommend a simple water filter which will help improve balance and taste, or consider installing an under-counter water tap that features a scale management filter. Alternatively for great at-home filter coffee, you can try mineral water. And here’s a little industry tip – Volvic is the brand most baristas use.


Get in touch

Not sure what filtration you need? No problem. Simply get in touch to discuss a scale management filter schedule with us. And if you’re on our fully comprehensive Total Care service plan then your filters are automatically included, so it’s all taken care of!