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How Does Water Quality Affect Coffee Flavor?

You’ve got a French press, the finest fresh locally Ohio roasted coffee beans, even specialty coffee syrups, but did you know the quality of your tap water can also affect its flavor? And not necessarily in the way you think. Harder water can actually produce a stronger tasting more flavorful coffee.

So say Maxwell Colonna Dashwood and Christopher H Hendon, who recently co-wrote a book, “Water for Coffee” that scientifically breaks down just why tap water can absolutely ruin even the best coffee. The book is a more readable compilation of the discoveries Hendon made in his 2014 paper, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on how the effect of water hardness on coffee flavor.

Hendon discovered that the compounds in hard water tend to attach to the flavorful elements in roasted coffee beans during brewing. Water with higher levels of magnesium will likely extract more flavor from a coffee bean.

Soft or distilled water, conversely, does the opposite and has a harder time pulling the flavor.

Hendon is currently working on a paper to determine how brewing temperature affects flavor. “I’m trying to build a picture to show people that every aspect of coffee can be explored if you want,” Hendon told the Atlantic.

Coffee as Science

Hendon is quickly becoming the residential scientist of the specialty coffee industry, a field that is still on the frontier stage of science.

“Over time, we’ve struggled to achieve the same scientific rigor behind our industry that others, like wine and beer, have,” says Emma Sage, the science manager at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), told the Atlantic. “Now we’re changing that.”

Want to learn more about how water affects your organic java? Check out the book on Amazon!