Coffee is made up of 98% water – why not use the best?

As the Winter cold sets in, the thought of drinking ice cold water probably makes you shiver – this is the time of the year that we all gravitate towards hotter beverages to keep us warm. Did you know that a standard cup of coffee is made up of 98% water? And that the water you use can affect the taste and texture of your favourite cuppa?

As the Five Senses describe it,

“Water isn’t just an ‘ingredient’ that you add to roasted coffee seeds — water is the solvent which extracts the flavour compounds from the seed. It has a very active role.”


Water & Coffee

Generally, a standard cup of coffee is largely made up of water and some of the undesirable contaminants of un-filtered water can impact the acidity, aroma and mouthfeel of the coffee.

So, whether you are a latte lover or espresso fanatic, if you’re using unfiltered tap water, the taste of your coffee isn’t as great as you think it is. As unfiltered water can contain particulate matter, chalky residue, traces of chlorine and organic molecules, as well as a sub-optimal balance of minerals. Unfortunately, some of these contaminants can also affect pH–, instead of being neutral, your water may be slightly acidic or basic.

Acidity is a crucial factor in the taste of coffee, it provides its sharp, lively and vibrant quality. This is why the pH of your water can have such a dramatic effect on your coffee’s flavour. For example, hydrogen carbonate, which is commonly found dissolved in non-filtered water, reacts with coffee acids and can lead to a flat, unbalanced taste.

Without aroma, our only taste sensations would be sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The subtle nuances we detect in our coffee are influenced by its aroma – which can, in turn, be affected by contaminants, such as chlorine, which have a potent scent of their own.

The body of your coffee describes the mouthfeel – it’s the viscosity, heaviness and richness perceived on the tongue. Think about how different whole milk feels in your mouth compared to water. How you perceive the body of your coffee depends on the oils and solids extracted from the bean during brewing – as well as any dissolved solids already present in your tap water. An easy way to ensure you always have filtered water ready to go is by having a jug handy or installing a tap filter

Water and Tea

Temperature, technique and tea leaves aside, the key determinant of the quality of a great cup of tea once again comes down to the water. Tea specialists such as Jane Pettigrew swear that a change in water will elevate the taste and fragrance of your tea. The same factors of pH, undesirable contaminants and water hardness, affect the colour, taste and aroma of tea. When using un-filtered water to brew tea, it can change the colour and taste – adding a cloudy appearance and hint of metallic taste. Whilst filtered water will infuse with the flavour of the tea much more quickly than hard water and will eliminate the murky froth that forms on top of tea too. Additionally, using filtered water is kinder to your kettle, as just like coffee machines, they are prone to build-up through their constant exposure to heated water.

The difference between a good and great cup of coffee is simply, filtered water.