Water quality can often go overlooked when establishing a coffee set-up at home or in a commercial environment.
Also, the approach to water in the coffee world varies widely. Depending on geographical location, beans, and personal preference, coffee drinkers often won’t notice a huge difference in their morning cup by changing the water.
However, if you really want to dial in your espresso shot or pour-over, and look after your equipment, you should be taking water seriously.
Filtered water containing the right level of total dissolved solids (TDS) is an area of coffee preparation that can have a resounding effect on the taste of espresso and the health of an espresso machine.
The water filtration market is full of various options designed to meet specific needs, from reverse osmosis to activated charcoal filter systems.
In this guide, I take a closer look at some of the water filter systems that can help keep your espresso machine running smoothly by lowering the possibility of scale and ensuring that the taste in your coffee is enhanced, helping you to create the perfect cup.
Best for Most Poelpe: Brita AquaGusto Coffee Machine Water Filter
The Brita AquaGusto Coffee Machine Water Filter is a practical solution for anyone who wants to improve the water quality in their espresso machine.
Simply placing the filter into the machine’s water tank, the filter draws out any impurities found in regular tap water, helping you get better-tasting coffee.
This filter comes with a sticker that lets you know when the filter needs to be changed and is excellent for anyone with an espresso machine that doesn’t have a built-in filter, or as an alternative to filters that are no longer available.
Best Water Jug: Peak Water
Brought to market by the brains behind the iconic coffee book ‘Water for coffee’, the Peak Water jug is an easy and effective way to get high-quality water for all types of coffee.
By using a resin-based filtration cartridge system, the water reaches the right level of minerals to help bring out the desired tastes when brewing.
Its simple water jug design allows users to easily adjust the filter’s settings from soft to hard water, which helps filter tap water to a more desirable level of total dissolved solids. It also removes chlorine and sediment that can cause scale build-up in espresso machines and water kettles.
The Peak Water Jug is great for filling home machine water reservoirs that don’t come equipped with inbuilt water filters and doubling up as a water source for brewing filter coffee.
An additional bonus to the Peak is that the cartridges are made from environmentally sustainable materials.
The Everpure 2CB-GW Water Filter is a carbon block filter cartridge that helps lower the taste and smell of chlorine and other contaminants found in drinking water, making the water more suitable for espresso extraction.
Designed to withstand the demanding use in food service, vending machines or single-cup coffee machines, this filter only needs changing once every six months and is quick and easy to twist off to help with easy installation.
This filter has a capacity of over 11,000 litres of water, which means that, depending on how regularly the filter is used, it won’t need to be changed regularly.
The C150 Quell Water Filter Kit is a commercial level water system that includes everything you need to make regular drinking water from your tap into high-quality filtered water capable of producing the perfect cup of coffee, while also maintaining the inside of your espresso machine.
Quell filter cartridges lower the carbonate hardness in your water supply, which is a leading cause of scale build-up in espresso machines.
These filter cartridges use Hydrogen Ion Exchange and are accompanied by a filter head, wall bracket, stainless steel braided hose and everything else needed for easy installation. Also, the rapid change system helps you to replace the cartridge with minimal fuss.
The Brita Purity C Finest Water Filter is available in multiple connection types to help eliminate any issues caused by water hardness, sediment or any other contaminants that require filtration to get higher water quality from your tap and help eliminate scale caused by a mineral build-up.
These water filters are designed with professional coffee equipment in mind, helping to lower the possibility of limescale and gypsum deposits that can have catastrophic effects on an espresso machine.
Water Filter Buying Guide
When considering what water filtration system matches your water quality needs, a few details should be considered before investing.
Total Dissolved Solids
TDS is a numeric measurement of the concentration of solids found in water compared with distilled water (reading zero).
Depending on the water sources that feed your tap, the hardness of the water can differ drastically from location to location. It can play a big part in what shines through in a cup of coffee, depending on what minerals the water naturally contains.
The Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) has set a guideline for water used when brewing coffee. The TDS should be between 70 and 200 parts per million (PPM). Some natural water sources can be as low as 30 or below, whilst others go well over 300 ppm.
Bottled water and distilled options
How much water you need for coffee can be another factor that needs considering. There are a couple of alternative options that don’t involve buying a water filter at all.
Some bottled drinking water is perfect for brewing coffee. This means that the water has already been purified before being bottled and naturally holds the right level of minerals to allow a coffee’s taste to shine through.
You will also find some coffee enthusiasts making their own coffee water. Taking distilled water and adding the right amount of desirable minerals to make up the right TDS can help bring more consistency when brewing.
Types of filter system
Finding the right level of filtration system is essential, and the correct solution will be dependant on your goals and how much water you expect to go through.
Activated carbon filter
Carbon filters are perfect for removing contaminants from water and will help to purify tap water.
It is pretty common for this type of filter to be enough to look after your espresso machine, protecting it from potential scale build-up and cleaning up some of the flavours in the coffee when brewing.
Reverse osmosis is one of the most thorough ways of filtering water. This filter system can be found in many commercial coffee shops, although there are different RO systems, some of which aren’t ideal for coffee extraction.
‘RO’ strips the water of all sediment and impurities, which can be significant in harder water areas; The problem is that most RO systems will also remove the good minerals, making coffee taste dull or flat.
Some high-end RO filter systems can add the minerals we want in coffee brewing.
Coffee Water Filter FAQ
What does a coffee machine water filter do?
Water filters for coffee remove things like calcium, fluoride and chlorine from water whilst balancing the needed minerals to help with extraction, like carbonate and magnesium.
They effectively lower the chances of scale building up, making your machine last for longer whilst also bringing out better flavours from the coffee itself.
Can you use a coffee machine without a water filter?
You can, but it isn’t recommended. If you use regular tap water to make coffee, you run the risk of scale building up in your espresso machine, which is a leading cause for coffee machines breaking down.
Even filtered water can still contain some chlorine and without the right balance in minerals, you are not getting the optimum flavours from your coffee beans.