Why water matters in coffee

Why water matters in coffee
23/02/2016

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Working with the roasters and baristas at Di Bella Coffee can be a truly amazing experience. This month we are roasting and brewing Panama Geisha with the team that participated in the 2015 ‘World’s richest barista competition’ and QLD and Northern Territory state championships and we find out how to use alternative brewing methods and what water can do to the flavour you get in the cup.

Brewing Panama Geisha

Brewing Panama Geisha can be somewhat daunting. You are working with one of the most expensive coffees in the world so you want to be sure every detail is right. From the correct dosages to the right temperature and finally the best quality water to let the coffee really shine.

Let’s start with the basic preparations.

Choosing a brewing device:

•       V60
•       Aeropress
•       Plunger

Each brings its own unique character to the cup because they are all very different extraction methods.

Coffee to water ratio

To achieve an optimal brew we recommend a 1:15 - 1:16 ratio. Meaning that for every 1 gram of coffee 15-16ml of water is used. So for 15gm of coffee you will add 250ml of water. 

Grind size

Grind size for brewing should be medium-coarse to coarse (if you are in our Roasting Warehouse, this will be setting 6-6.5 on the DBC bulk grinders). The texture should be quite grainy, similar to cracked pepper. If you use your own grinder some small adjustments and testing will be necessary to get the perfect grind.

Water temperature

Water temperature has a noticeable impact on the coffee and should be between 91-93°, and added in 30 second intervals. Make sure you have thermometers to control the temperature.

Brewing equipment specifics

When using an Aeropress, or Plunger the water should be added in two stages starting with a 40-50ml bloom, then adding the remaining water. For a Chemex or V60 the water should be added in stages, pausing between each stage e.g. 50ml, followed by 100ml, followed by 50ml, and finishing with 50ml.
TIP: to achieve the best results a set of scales should be used to ensure consistency.

Why water matters?

Water is the biggest ingredient in coffee. When working with a delicate coffee like the Panama Geisha the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and ratios of solids in the water used will determine the clarity and body of the coffee.

Voss Norwegian spring water boast not only a low TDS or total dissolved solids but a perfect 1:2 ratio of calcium and magnesium to bicarbonate. As the Panama Geisha is a very sweet and delicate coffee a heavy water with a high TDS will produce a flavour with low clarity and lead to overpowering body. For comparison, Brisbane tap water has a TDS of approximately 150-600 parts per million, whereas Voss water has 44. Imagine trying to look at a portrait through foggy glass… some of the details are lost… similarly, using water with a high TDS dims the clarity in the coffee.

Let the coffee shine

The low TDS allows the coffee’s naturally complex flavour to shine through. The calcium and magnesium are the most essential elements in the Voss water, and are required to extract the coffee’s beautiful fruity, sweet, & acidic flavours. While the bicarbonate helps the water maintain a stable PH. Voss Water’s perfect 1:2 ratio means that the flavour the magnesium and calcium extract are showcased and not muddled or dulled by  the bicarbonate content.  

Brisbane water with between 1- 4 times more magnesium and calcium to bicarbonate, will present a dull, heavy and at time sour flavour. Even when filtered this effect is only marginally improved.

Voss Water offers a much more stable and clean water profile which is ideal for an exquisite and delicate coffee like the Panama Geisha. Voss Water is available from major supermarkets and bottle shops.

For more information about Panama Geisha and brewing equipment visit our store online or Roasting Warehouse in Bowen Hills.

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