Water is most of what makes espresso, and a vital factor to consider when brewing drinks. That motivated me to investigate and find the best type of water.
I’ll talk about the best type of water to use for espresso in this guide. I’ll also discuss what makes “the best” water and why. Then, I’ll compare different types of water and why each could work for espresso.
Here in an overview:
Let’s dive in.
- Water with a TDS of 90–150 ppm mineral content is best for flavor.
- Filtered and bottled water work best for great-tasting espresso.
- Avoid using tap water, because it could result in scale buildup.
- Distilled & reverse osmosis water could damage espresso machines.
What Is the Right Water to Use for Espresso Machines?
Filtered water is best for espresso machines since it has ideal parts per million (ppm) in every category many experts recommend.
- Chloride: 0–30 ppm
- Alkalinity: 40–80 ppm
- pH: 6.5–8.0
- Chlorine: 0–0.1 ppm
- Free chlorine: 0–0.05
- Iron: 0–0.02 ppm
- Hardness: 70–100 ppm
Filters, bottled water, and filtered pitchers will help you achieve the above requirements.
The above units are best for all brands of espresso machines, including:
|De’Longhi||La Marzocco||Mr. Coffee|
Learn why it’s important to use the right water for espresso machines.
Why Is It Important to Use the Right Water for Espresso?
Espresso comes from forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. Water is the other ingredient in espresso. It’s essential to use high-quality water that doesn’t have too many minerals.
Here are some of the reasons it’s important to use the right water for espresso:
- Taste: Hard water can make your espresso taste bitter & astringent.
- Soft water can make your espresso taste flat & watery.
- Lifespan of espresso machine: Hard water builds up scale inside espresso machine, which can reduce device’s efficiency.
- Soft water leaches minerals from the machine’s internal components, which can also damage machine.
- Consistency: Water with varying levels of mineral will taste different every time.
- This can be frustrating & make it difficult to achieve the perfect cup of espresso.
Let’s compare different water types to ensure you’re not using the wrong water.
The Different Types of Water & Their Impact on Espresso Quality
You have the following types of water available for making espresso:
- Filtered water: Best option
- Bottled water: Runner-up
- Tap water: Usable, but not recommended
- Distilled water & reverse osmosis water: Avoid
The following sections will cover the pros and cons of each water type and other information.
1. Filtered Water: Best Option
- More control over filtration
- Improves waters taste
- Can save money in long run
- High up-front investment for water filters
- May require plumber for installation
Under-sink water filters will do the following without negatively impacting taste:
- Filter out the chlorine in your water.
- Reduce water hardness.
- Balance your water’s pH levels.
Those living in areas with already clean and soft water could consider using filtration pitchers such as Britas. These filter chlorine and improve taste. These cost less than buying and installing filtration systems. Moreover, the replacement filters will cost less in the long run.
Test your water before considering a filtration option.
2. Bottled Water: Second-best Option
- No chemicals
- Better taste
- Balances required composition for espresso
- Plastic could seep into drinks
Bottled water is excellent for espresso machines since it’s not prone to mineral buildup and can taste better due to the lack of chlorine.
It’s the most expensive option regarding adding water to espresso machines and works best for folks who make a drink a day. Even buying in bulk, you’ll need to pay a pretty penny to get all those bottles. Then, you’ll need to dispose of the empty bottles, which requires ample space in your recycling bin.
You’ll need to worry about plastic contamination with bottled water. Despite not having BPA, phthalates—a group of chemicals used in plastics—could leach into your water . This happens when exposed to heat, though.
And you could counter chemical leaks by buying water that comes in glass bottles. For instance, Saratoga water. It has low sodium content, a decent amount of mineral content, and it’s alkaline.
You’ll find many types of bottled water, such as:
- Spring Water: Best option when using bottled water.
- Well Water: Usable, but may require water softener.
- Artesian Water: Usable depending on TDS.
- Sparkling Water: Could damage machine.
- Mineral Water / Alkaline Water: Could cause mineral buildup in machine.
- Purified Water: Don’t use this water; it’s distilled.
Spring water is the best choice since it contains minerals for enhanced espresso flavor. It’s also filtered to remove impurities that could damage your machine.
Ensure the spring water you buy has a TDS of between 90 and 150 ppm. Some sources suggest 150–200 ppm is also good. Test both ranges against your palate and determine which works best.
Also, make sure your spring water doesn’t have too much sodium. It could make your drink taste salty.
I recommend Crystal Geyser as the best overall bottled water for espresso. It’s affordable, accessible, and meets many requirements for “good” espresso water.
This next option is the best route to take.
3. Tap Water: Not Recommended
- Most affordable
- High mineral content
- Fairly high chlorine content
Tap water without filtration is the most affordable way to feed water to your espresso machine. It’s recommended for folks who don’t care about taste. This type of water will have varying levels of TDS.
Areas with hard water could have such a high level of TDS that it could cause mineral buildup. Potentially damaging your machine.
I recommend using a water softener and filter in that scenario, which I’ll talk about in a couple of sections.
Many residential areas require their water systems to have 0.5 to 2.0 ppm of chlorine in their water to eliminate water-borne illnesses . However, this will affect your espresso’s taste and excess chlorine could oxidize your machine’s components. Reducing your machine’s life.
Let’s cover another accessible means to access water for espresso.
4. Distilled Water & Reverse Osmosis Water: Avoid Using
Distilled and reverse osmosis water are the results of removing all dissolved solids and trace chemicals from water. Don’t use either water for making espresso.
They’ll leach metals from metal pipes, which could lead to corrosion in your machine and part failure.
These water types leach minerals, since many consider it the “universal solvent.” Due to its nature, distilled and reverse osmosis water are excellent for dissolving minerals from boilers and metal pipes. Both of which espresso machines have.
You don’t want water to dissolve minerals from metal pipes.
Best pH for Water in Espresso Machines
The ideal pH for espresso machines is between 7 and 8.5. Water that is too acidic or too alkaline can affect the taste of your coffee.
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water.
Importance of Testing Your Water Before Using It in Your Espresso Machine
Once you know the quality of your water, take steps to improve it if necessary. If your water’s hard, use a water softener or filter. If your water is soft, add minerals to it.
The following sections will cover different tools available that’ll test levels of different units in your water.
How to Test Your Water
There are a few different ways to test your water for espresso. Purchase a water testing kit from a home improvement store or online. These kits measure the water’s pH level, total dissolved solids (TDS), and mineral content. You can also have your water tested by a professional lab.
Or try other options like—
1. Water Hardness Test Strip
Dip the test strip in your water for a second, then remove it and compare the color of the test strip to the color chart that came with it. The higher the number of red squares on the test strip, the harder your water is.
Ideal water hardness levels sit between 70 and 100 ppm.
2. TDS Meter
A TDS meter measures the total dissolved solids (TDS) in water. TDS is a measure of the minerals and other substances dissolved in water. The higher the TDS reading, the harder your water is.
Here are the steps on how to test your water for espresso machines using a TDS meter:
- Fill a small cup with water from your tap.
- Turn on the TDS meter & place the probe in the water.
- Wait for the TDS meter to read the level of the water.
Your target range for TDS is 150 mg/L. However, the acceptable range is 75–250 mg/L.
3. pH Test Strip or Device
You can use a pH tester to measure the pH of your water. pH testers are available at most hardware stores and online retailers.
Here are the steps on how to test the pH of your water using a pH tester:
- Fill a small cup with water from your tap.
- Turn on the pH tester & place the probe in the water.
- Wait for the pH tester to read the pH level of the water.
If the pH of your water is outside the ideal range, you may need to use a water filter or softener to adjust the pH.
The ideal pH level for espresso machines is between 6.5 and 8.0.
The Different Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Water for Espresso
Here are some additional tips for using high-quality water in your espresso machine:
- Use filtered or bottled water.
- Avoid using distilled or reverse osmosis water, as it can leach minerals from the machine.
- Change your water filter regularly.
- Frequently descale your machine.
- Clean your machine often.
Following these tips will ensure that your machine has the highest-quality water possible for great-tasting drinks and machine longevity.
Bottled and filtered water are the 2 best types of water to use for espresso. They have the best taste, the most balanced TDS, and isn’t too hard. All these combined factors will make your espresso taste great and ensure your machine lives long.
Do you need help finding a great espresso machine? Explore our comparisons and find your dream machine.