Meet Birgit Kohler, BRITA's Resident Water Sommelier

Most people have heard of wine sommeliers, who test the taste and quality of wine - but did you know there are water sommeliers as well? Meet Birgit Kohler,  BRITA’s very own water sommelier who specialises in food sensory science and taste.

What does a water sommelier do?

A water sommelier needs to be able to analyse the taste, smell and appearance of the water to determine what they can recommend. They will taste for different elements in the water. If water is high in minerals like calcium, it will be milky and smooth, though too much calcium makes it taste chalky. If the water is high in electrolytes, it will be slightly salty, and if copper is present it will be more bitter. After the water has been tested, a water sommelier is able to recommend the taste and quality of certain types of water. 

Did you know you can pair different types of water to suit your meal or specific daily activities? For example, if someone is trying to improve their digestion, high bicarbonate water is suggested; for someone with an active lifestyle, water with extra electrolytes is recommended. Of course, there are recommendations for regular water drinkers, which most people are aware of. 

For example, Chlorine will impair the taste; heavy metals can affect our health and limescale will lower the quality of tea and coffee. These are elements that are detected by BRITA’s sommelier and ultimately how BRITA filters are developed to help improve your tap water quality. 

BRITA Sensory Lab

BRITA’s sensory lab is designed with consistent lighting, neutral-coloured walls and furniture. The interior is intentionally minimal – for a good reason. This is to allow Birgit to focus on the water without any distractions. Nothing should influence the senses of the water tester. After all, their work will decide whether the quality is good enough to be BRITA filtered water. 

BRITA’s sensory lab strives to give unbiased results of water taste and quality. It is important to test the water that comes through our filters to see just how much of a difference they can really make.

'For decades, we only talked about taste', says Birgit, 'Today we actually measure it ourselves', adds Alexandra Merz, Test Team Lead with works closely with Birgit, 'The test results then flow into various projects, ultimately improving water’s taste and the performance of BRITA filters. This is done to ensure everyone can enjoy great tasting water'.