Brewing At Home - Water Part 1 of 2

By Tyler Workman

Brewing At Home - Water Part 1 of 2

Part 1 of 2

In the latest installment of our Brewing at Home series, we'd like to address the subject of water since it is one of the topics we are asked about most often. The topics we will cover are:

Part 1

  1. What type of water should I use for brewing coffee?
  2. Water Standards as set by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)
  3. What should I use to pour water into my coffee maker?

Part 2

  1. What ratio of coffee to water should I use?
  2. What temperature water should I use (for manual brew methods)?
  3. Limescale & Descaling

Water constitutes about 98% of a cup of brewed coffee with the other 2% being the soluble compounds extracted from the coffee grinds during the brewing process, so the water you use will play a big part of your overall coffee experience from how well extracted your coffee is, to the cleaning and maintenance of your coffee makers, and most importantly to how well your coffee tastes!

We won't dive too deep into the science and chemistry of minerals, ions, water hardness/softness, etc., but we would like to offer what we think are some good foundational tips and best practices.  If you would like to take a deep dive into water for coffee brewing, we recommend The Specialty Coffee Association's (SCA) Water Quality Handbook 


1. What type of water should I use for brewing coffee?

This is probably the most asked question we get related to water for coffee brewing. We’ll start with the water that we think you should NOT brew with and a couple of reasons why.

We recommend that you do NOT use the following types of water:

  • Tap Water - Tap water can be too hard and contain too many minerals such as calcium which can cause limescale in your coffee maker but can also affect the extraction level of the coffee solubles which will affect the overall taste of your brewed coffee. Tap water may also not be safe and may contain harmful compounds and sediments such as chlorine, lead, mercury, iron, and dirt.
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO or RO’d) Water - Reverse osmosis is a water purification process that purifies water. Reverse osmosis systems are usually also paired with a water softening process to remove the minerals calcium and magnesium which cause hard water. Softening the water helps preserve the reverse osmosis membrane used in the purification process. This process renders the water pure and soft, but not necessarily the best for brewing coffee. If you have a reverse osmosis system in your home, take a look at our recommended water types below.
  • Distilled Water - Distilled water uses the distillation process (boiling water then capturing the steam and allowing it to condense back into water) to purify water. The distillation process is great at removing harmful impurities, but it is also effective at removing many of the minerals and salts in water which renders water tasting dull and flat which is not what you want when brewing coffee. If distilled water is your main drinking water, take a look at our recommended water types below.

We recommend the following types of water for brewing coffee:

  • Filtered/Purified Water - This is the type of water we recommend most due to ease of use and the least wasteful of plastics if you can filter your own water. We’ll list two types of filtered water:
    • Home water filters - Home water filters gives you safe and delicious drinking water and saves waste by not needing to buy bottled water which uses massive amounts of plastic. Two home filtration brands that we recommend are ZeroWater and Brita. You may have seen the pitcher-style filters or the counter top dispenser style filters, these are great for coffee brewing.



    • Bottled water -  Bottled water is also known as "Purified" or "Drinking" water that is purified through filtration instead of reverse osmosis or distillation. This can be easily purchased at grocery stores, but typically involves a lot of plastic waste.


  • Spring Water - Spring water is water that is bottled at a spring source, but is typically sold as bottled water, so there is usually a high amount of plastic waste involved in using this type of water. If you are lucky enough to live near a spring source you can typically buy spring water by taking your own reusable containers and this is highly recommended as you will get some of the best tasting water.
  • Custom Mixed Water - By way of adding minerals to distilled or reverse osmosis water. Distilled water is the preferred water to mix with custom mineral packets as reverse osmosis water may also be “softened” with a water softener which drastically changes the composition of the compounds in reverse osmosis water. For this reason, we recommend mixing any custom mineral packet with distilled water. There are two brands we know of that make custom minerals. There are links to both companies which contain more information on water and their products.
    • Third Wave Water - Third Wave Water has crafted mineral packet profiles for different roast levels including light roast, dark roast and espresso roast to help you get the best coffee in each cup.
    • Perfect Coffee Water - Their unique blend of minerals creates the ideal brewing water  to extract the full range of your coffee’s potential.




2. Water Standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has set standards for water specific to brewing coffee. As we mentioned, we will not dive too deep into the science of water for coffee, but if you are interested we have published the standards information below:

Water For Brewing Standards


The Statistics & Standards Committee of the Specialty Coffee Association has determined the following standards for the water used to brew specialty coffee. For a superior quality extraction of coffee solids, the brewing water should have these characteristics:



Acceptable Range

Odor 1

Clean Fresh / Odor Free




Calcium Hardness

50-175 ppm CaCO3

50-175 ppm CaCO3


40 ppm

At or near 40-70 ppm CaCO3



6 - 8

3. How Should I fill the water chamber of my coffee maker? What should I use to pour water into my coffee maker?

The answer to this question depends on what type of coffee maker you will be using:

  • Drip Coffee Machine or Percolator - If you are using a drip coffee machine or a percolator, we recommend using a clean pitcher or water dispenser to pour water into the water chamber of your coffee maker. We DO NOT recommend using the coffee pot you brew coffee into to fill the water chamber because the coffee pot may have coffee residues (see our blog article on Cleaning Coffee Gear) which will affect the overall taste of your brewed coffee.
  • Manual Coffee Maker - If you are using a manual coffee maker such as a pour over (Chemex, Hario V60, Melitta, Kalita, Clever Dripper, Bee House, etc.), a Press (French Press, Aeropress, American Press, etc.) we recommend using a gooseneck water kettle for pouring the hot water into the brewer for best control of flow rate. A regular water  kettle can be used (this is especially true of presses), but you will have less control over the flow rate of your water. When brewing using a pour over your technique and flow rate will have an effect on how well your coffee is brewed. 

The recommendations above are our own recommendations based on our own knowledge, experience, and industry best practices & standards. We do not claim to be the final authority on all things coffee, so we encourage people to experiment to see what works best for them. If you enjoyed this article or have any questions feel free to drop us a message on our social media accounts, send us an email, or drop a comment below. Happy Sipping ☕!

 See Brewing At Home - Water Part 2 of 2


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