How water affects the taste of pour over coffee

If you’ve been enjoying pour over coffee for a while, you may be able to identify with this scenario: You try a great coffee at a roaster or café. You decide to buy some beans to brew at home. You make your pour over coffee and discover, with disappointment, that it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

You brewed your coffee the same way, even taking care to aim for the same grind size and brew time. What happened?

Well, there’s only one other ingredient in pour over coffee – water. Plain as it might seem, your drinking water actually contains an assortment of chemicals and minerals that affect its taste and quality, depending on the source and the how it’s been treated. Soft water tends to taste smoother and more refreshing, but may also have a hint of saltiness to it. On the other hand, hard water feels dry and coarse in the mouth.

The second factor that influences the taste of your coffee is the amount of dissolved gases, usually oxygen, in it. The oxygen in water contributes to the extraction of flavour compounds from the coffee grounds as you brew your pour over coffee. That’s why oxygen-poor water, such as water that has been boiled multiple times, will lead to flat-tasting coffee.


How to improve water quality for pour over coffee

In most places, the most common problem with water is that it’s too hard. If you find that your water exceeds 250 ppm of calcium deposits, we recommend a water softener to improve the quality of your drinking water.

As for keeping your water rich in dissolved gases, our advice is always the same – use fresh water when brewing your coffee! Most coffeehouses use a heater to keep their water at a constant 94-98 degrees centigrade, which is ideal for making pour over coffee. You may not want to spend on this for your home coffee setup, but make sure you don’t use stale or re-boiled water.

With the above tips, you should soon find yourself with pour over coffee that tastes almost as good as a café’s – given, of course, that you’ve learned the right brewing techniques.