Let's Get Technical: Creating delicious Water for Coffee

Friday, 14 May, 2021

This year we take the A Shot in the Dark competition up a level by providing each competitor with 10 litres of specifically made water for brewing coffee. This means that the coffee will be brewed using the same water at every level of the competition and the judges will taste the coffee exactly how the competitors brewed it in their own roasteries. We are only able to provide this because of the BWT Africa Team and their partners at Equipment Cafe. They will be sending each of our 46 competitors this amazing water to brew with. We met with the BWT team this week to talk logistics, and got to see the Reverse Osmosis and Remineralising counter top machine in action. These guys really know their stuff!

Coffee is 98% water! Nicodemus Nabakwe seen here at last year's judging session.

Why is the water element such a critical part of the competition? 

Most of us think that “surely water is just water". Well, we are here to tell you that you this is not the case.The relationship between water and coffee is far more complex than most people realise. Considering that water typically comprises of more than 98% of filter coffee and 88-92% of espresso coffee, it is not surprising that the impact it has is bound to be huge.

The better the water, the better the taste of the coffee, and we know that coffee Is all about the smell and taste.

For previous competitions, competitors have just used a “supermarket” water - what is difference between that and the competition water that BWT is going to create for each competitor.

The disadvantages “supermarket” water present is inconsistency of water quality as well as the contribution to the coffee taste. BWT treats the water through a reverse osmosis which gets H2O in its purest form. We then remineralise the water with calcium and magnesium enough to meet the SCA Standards. We also believe it gives all competitors a fair chance with the same water quality that will be all bottled on the same day.  Quality water supply does not only protect a valuable coffee machine, but it also allows the barista to brew tastiest cup of coffee. Why have normal water when you can have BWT Magnesium Water. 

How do you “treat water”? Can you talk us through the process?

We basically treat all types of water that include ground and surface water, all the way to through to municipal water. Every type of water comes with different compositions, allowing us to have a vast range of technologies that can tackle it all. The previous question explains one of the technologies that BWT offers from domestic all the way through to industrial. 

From a scientific POV - what is the ideal recipe that BWT is aiming for and why is this significant?

It is now well understood that the chemical characteristics of brewing water do influence the final coffee cupping experience.

The team of researchers have investigated what influence the ratio of alkaline-earth ions calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) in water has on the sensory properties of coffee.

 A statistically reliable flavour analysis (cupping panel) revealed a surprisingly clear picture: By shifting the mineral ratio in the water towards more magnesium (Mg2+), two important taste parameters change in the flavour parameters of the coffee extract: bitterness and astringency are decreased significantly.

The scientists' findings are highly consistent with the experience gained in practice by international baristas: magnesium-rich water ensures that balanced, full taste experience in coffee which roasters strive for in each of their different coffees. Less calcium, more magnesium in the water: the brew becomes less bitter and astringent.

BWT is well known in the coffee community in SA, having partnered with Equipment Cafe - tell us a bit about the relationship and why it works.

BWT has positioned themselves as a global player in the coffee industry and has swiftly moved into the South African market. Equipment Café represents international prominent brands and exposing them to the ever-growing coffee market in South Africa. This natural paved a way for BWT and Equipment Café to work together. This allows us to partner together and take part in growing the coffee community in SA. 

This is the counter top unit that feeds coffee quality water directly into your espresso machine.

Is BWT just for coffee shops and coffee roasters or is BWT also for the home barista or coffee lover?

BWT Africa caters from household products such as water jugs that can be use for domestic coffee machines as well as home barista, reducing chlorine and smell. We offer coffee shops RO units that are compact and easy to install. The benefit of these products is that it allows coffee shops to treat their water at a higher capacity, removing unwanted chemicals that creates corrosion and scaling and introduces magnesium water to the coffee, which enhancing the taste of the coffee. In closing, BWT stands for Best Water Technology, and this is what we will always strive to achieve.

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