HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Water Systems (21 msgs / 607 lines)
1) From: John Abbott
Reading Dan and a couple of others, I remember we kicked the subject of
water around last year.  I was more or less happy with my system - but now I
realize that it isn't doing the job I thought and I have been supplementing
with a Britta pitcher.   We use a lot of  water for cooking and drinking. I
make our own soy milk, and the obvious 2 liters of coffee a day. Being a CSA
member I am reluctant to mention the other hot drinks :O)
I have really looked at the small distillers as a possibility, but know that
distilled water detracts from the taste of the coffee.  So I'm violating the
CSA standard and ASKING (allowing you to TELL) what type of water purifiers
are in use out there.
John - roasting up some more ISH!
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2) From: John Abbott
That's what I have now for the whole house. But it just doesn't take the
chemical taste out of the water that the well puts in.  Maybe a second just
for the sink might work.
I looked at the unit you recommended Al and its really what I'd like to have
- but I sure don't want to pay for it :O)
John - still looking and thinking.

3) From: John Abbott
    That's just about where I am. I can buy filters from Ace for the whol=
house system for $28 each and they come in a wide variety of filter densi=
 We need to change those filters every two months lately.  I'm using the
Brita for my coffee and tea now - just getting lazy I guess.   I've looke=
at the PUR faucet adapter but it is too large to have poking up above the
sink. So maybe I'll just stay with the Brita (I have a half dozen cartrid=
for it).

4) From: John Abbott
Maybe that's what happened to my first espresso machine. We had a RO syst=
with three prefilters in Indiana. The water tasted great put the espresso
machine began to leak and the seals kept breaking down. Maybe I'm glad I
left it in the house :O)  
I've got PUR units all around me in the neighborhood - but we have a high
arching faucet and it just looks like it would be getting in the way.  Ma=
I'll give it a try.  I wouldn't expect the filter to last long down here.=

5) From: Al Raden
I use an under the counter unit by General Ecology.  Very pleased with 
it.  They have a website www.generalecology.com
No relationship with them other than as a satisfied customer.
- Al Raden
 http://www.brandydesigns.comJohn Abbott wrote:
- Al Raden
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6) From: Eric B. Stauffer
I purchased a solid carbon block filter from Lowes and installed it in our
basement. It provides filtered water to our fridge (where I get chilled
water for coffee) and icemaker. .
I think the total cost was about $60 and the 30 mins to install it. Refill
cartridges are about $30. I'm pretty please with the performance.
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7) From: NOEL HONG
About ten years ago I installed a Teledyn in-line filter unit between my 
well pressure tank and in-line.  The unit was inexpensive(?$30.00) with a 
wide variety of filters available(10micron to 1 micron, carbon filters, 
combination filters).  A number of other manufactures make compatiable 
filters. It has a bipass and off position. My H2O hardness is between 3 and 
5 grains.  I still use a Brita pitcher with the carbon/"ion exchange" combo 
filter for H2O used in the Isomac.
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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8) From: Al Raden
Yes, it is expensive.  But, since I live in an agricultural state, I 
wanted the protection it offers.  My unfiltered water comes out of the 
tap a greenish-yellow, and smells of chlorine.  The filtered water is 
clear and good tasting.  I justified it based on the money I was 
spending on bottled water (often of questionable quality itself)...
- al
John Abbott wrote:
- Al Raden
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9) From: Kevin DuPre
Whatever you do, don't use a reverse-osmosis (RO for
those who don't know) to provide your brew/espresso
water source.  First off RO removes ALL the minerals
and since your espresso and brewing equipment plumbing
is made of metal especially the high-temperature
parts, RO water will eventually eat through the
RO water needs to reach chemical equilibrium with its
surrounding environment since all minerals have been
removed.  I've heard stories from espresso machine
service techs where they got a call from a customer
that the foamed milk was coming out green.  The copper
plumbing was being eaten away by the RO water.
Typically RO systems have a bypass/mixing valve so
that some of the original water is mixed to avoid this
situation. The result reduces scale buildup and bad
taste without the inherent damage to the plumbing.
Personally, I use a faucet mounted PUR Ultimate to
filter our brew/espresso water. It's a submicron
filter with an activated charcoal element. The taste
is very good without scale effects and the filters are
relatively cheap - about 30-40 bucks for 3 months or so.
Kevin DuPre
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10) From: coffenut
I've been using the PUR Undersink filter for about 5 yrs and it has
served me well.  I use it to draw water for my brew each day and it has
a sweet flavor that's been very acceptable to me.  Costco sells them
on-line for $59.99.  The replacement filters are roughly $16 via Costco,
or you can get them at Target for about $22.  
The folks at PUR really take care of the customer too.  A few months
ago, the faucet on my 5yr old unit developed a leak and needed
replacement.  I contacted PUR to see if I could just buy that part from
them.  They sent me a new faucet without charge and apologized for my
unit having failed.  Now that was Service!!  Check it out.
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11) From: TFisher511
I have tried all types of water and read the reports and complaints. I still 
prefer distilled water to make my coffee.
Terry F
john writes:

12) From: Paul Jolly
I've been using a counterop Multi-Pure unit for
the last four years and it's worked quite well. 
Initial investment was around $160; filters cost
$40 or so and last for 400 gallons.  At our
current rate of consumption, we replace the
filter once a year.  However, the house we used
to live in was on a well which produced very
silty water; this clogged the filter every two
On the website (www.multipure.com) they show the
prices.  Note that you should look up a local
dealer and buy through him/her.  S/he will get a
cut, but you can register to become a dealer and
get an automatic discount on your first
order...then never place another order again
(except to get replacement filters) and they
won't hassle you.  I know it sounds odd, but it's
a square deal.
As a partial aside, I recall the old Coors ads
("it's the water") and laughing at them.  Sure,
water comprises 90-95% of the volume of beer, but
it contributes far less to the taste of the brew.
 What I learned as a homebrewer is that it's far
less important to try to use great-tasting water
than it is to make all efforts to avoid the
lousy-tasting stuff.  That done,
what matters is the hardness--temporary and
long-term--to affect how the bitterness is pulled
from the hops.  
I'd be curious to read about how hardness affects
coffee extraction.  For beer brewers, it almost
goes without saying that one needs to address the
hardness of one's water if one wants to replicate
brews with accuracy and consistency.  
Searchin' for the key to the god shot,
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13) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Paul,
On 5 Sep 2002 at 15:29, you wrote:
Afaik, the SCAA and most European equivalents recommend water at 90 mg/l hardness (5 grains/gal). 
Some additionally recommend around 50 mg/l alkalinity (a bicarbonate measure, 3 grains/gal) which 
translates to a neutral pH. With this recommendation, it's impossible to brew with too hard water, 
since heating it to brewing temperatures will scale out the excess hardness.
The problem is that the water in espresso boilers will scale if it gets above 50 mg/l hardness (3 
grains/gal). For home machines, the best bet is to use moderately hard water and descale regularly. 
For commercial style machines descaling is a pita, so most use softened water. 
According to my buds, at the 3 grains mark, the espresso is a little rougher around the edges, but 
still OK. RO or distilled water produces a brew with a thin watery mouthfeel and overly accentuated 
bright tones. It also seems to extract a lot quicker, with the streams clearing very fast. So using 
very soft water may require a shortening in the 20 to 30 second rule. I didn't test this.
In any case, if an oily gloopy mouthfeel is part of your godshot, stay away from too soft water. The 
effect on taste is more debateable.
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14) From: Jack Berry
Well John, that you mentioned that you 'COULD mention' other hot beverages
probably has your ilk pulling the plug on you right now. But being one of
the unwashed I'll tell you what I use.
We have a deep well at our home that produces really excellent water except
for a little more iron than I like. I've always like softened water for
bathing and laundry so we got a water softener. We added an RO filter as an
afterthought and I like the water we get from that. It produces very clear
ice and super iced tea (it's ok, that's a cold Southern beverage that
shouldn't be confused with the hot beverage that likely caused your fall
from grace).
Jack - looking down from a position of grace (so far).

15) From: Jack Berry
I think the greatest problem of demineralizing plumbing would be with carbon
steel, galvanized or iron components. If I understand the effect, components
made of copper, brass or stainless should be undamaged.
Do I have it right?

16) From: David Westebbe
On Thu, 5 Sep 2002, John Abbott wrote:
I use a Brita.  It is extremely much better than nothing.  YMMV.
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17) From: David Lewis
At 10:03 AM -0500 9/5/02, John Abbott wrote:
What I've got for my Techno is an RO system (a distiller would work 
as well) followed by what Cirqua calls an "in-line formulation 
cartridge," which may or may not be just a calcite cartridge. Leaves 
the water with 35-50 ppm of hardness, which is pretty good for 
espresso. The ideal would be a Cirqua commercial system, which 
purifies the water and then adds minerals back to hardness of 50 ppm 
and 250 ppm total dissolved solids. Those, however, are many 
thousands of dollars and we'd have to come up with a whole new 
category of CSA membership.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, 
signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are 
not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
	--Dwight D. Eisenhower
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18) From: AlChemist John
Sometime around 14:05 9/5/02, Kevin DuPre typed:
Actually, I use RO and it does NOT remove ALL the minerals.  Just a 
percentage.  It depends on the content of the incoming water and how good 
your system is.  If the incoming water is relatively clean, it may well 
remove most, but in my case, it is used to treat about 5% salt water and 
removes about 90-95%.  Just FYI.
John Nanci 
AlChemist at large
Roasting and Blending by Gestalt
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19) From: NOEL HONG
From what other people have said, the PUR & Brita tap filters do not reduce 
the hardness of water.
Noel V. Hong
email: nhong32590
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20) From: Dan Bollinger
And PVC, too, right?
If R/O water demineralizes, then it stands to reason that distilled water do
so even more.
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21) From: Dan Bollinger
The specs in my Aqua-Pure R/O unit says it removes 95% of dissolved solids.
I have no idea what that means in ppm, but it does say that the water isn't
as pure as distilled.  This is obvious to me when I rinse wine glasses with
R/O water after washing and hang them to dry. I get some water spotting that
I didn't get when I used to use distilled water.  Clearly, (or in this case
not-so-clearly) there is some mineral content in R/O water.  All this is
moot for me, I boil my coffee water in an enamel kettle and brew in a glass
press pot!  :)  My biggest problem is iron.  The iron content in my well
water is above what is considered healthy water.  The softener struggles to
remove this iron even with special resins.  I'm considering putting in a
air-bubbling iron pre-filter unit.  Dan
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