Water Test Results are in for the 2019 National Coffee Competitions February 13 2019

Ultimate Water’s test results are in for the National Coffee Competitions and it’s looking good for our 2019 competitors. Below is a breakdown of the World Barista Championship water specifications and how it compares to the National Coffee Competitions’ water test results.

Total Dissolved Solids
A total dissolved solid (TDS) is a measure of the combined total of organic and inorganic substances contained in a liquid. This includes anything present in water other than the pure H20 molecules. These solids are primarily minerals, salts and organic matter that can be a general indicator of water quality. 

The palatability of drinking water has been rated by panels of tasters in relation to its TDS level as follows: excellent, less than 300mg/L; good, between 300 and 600mg/L; fair, between 600 and 900mg/L; poor, between 900 and 1200mg/L; and unacceptable, greater than 1200mg/L.

Ultimate Water’s TDS test result comes in at 87mg/L, which is ideal for baristas.

Total Hardness
The simple definition of water’s total hardness (TH) is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, both calcium and magnesium. Compounds of calcium and magnesium, and cause hardness by a variety of other metals. General guidelines for classification of waters are: 0 to 60mg/L (milligrams per liter) as calcium carbonate is classified as soft; 61 to 120 mg/L as moderately hard; 121 to 180mg/L as hard; and more than 180mg/L as very hard. 

Ultimate Water’s TH test result comes in at 70mg/L, which is ideal for baristas.

In chemistry, pH is a logarithmic scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. The pH of pure water is 7. In general, water with a pH lower than 7 is considered acidic, and with a pH greater than 7 is considered basic. The normal range for pH in surface water systems is 6.5 to 8.5, and the pH range for groundwater systems is between 6 to 8.5.

Ultimate Water’s pH test result comes in at 7.4, which is ideal for baristas.

Alkalinity is the capacity of water to neutralize acids. This capacity is caused by the water's content of carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide and occasionally borate, silicate and phosphate. The amount of Alkalinity that should be in water is 20-200mg/L for typical drinking water. 

Ultimate Water’s alkalinity test result comes in at 106, which is ideal to acceptable for baristas.

Free Chlorine
Free chlorine, is the chlorine available to inactivate disease-causing organisms, and thus a measure to determine the potability of water. A free chlorine level of 0.5mg/L of free chlorine will be enough residual to maintain the quality of water.

Ultimate Water’s free chlorine test result comes in at <0.1, which is ideal for baristas.

Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by large numbers of individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality. Many drinking water utilities strive to achieve levels as low as 0.1 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU). The European standards for turbidity state that it must be no more than 4 NTU. The World Health Organization, establishes that the turbidity of drinking water should not be more than 5 NTU, and should ideally be below 1 NTU.

Ultimate Water’s turbidity test result comes in at 0.1, which is ideal for baristas.

Coffee in general has an acidic pH, but alkaline water can help ‘restore’ that and remove the bitterness. Basically water is neutral meaning it is of pH 7. However due to different molecules dissolved in water, it can also be slightly acidic or alkalic. 

The signification of pH for coffee, extremely simplified [as by www.baristainstitute.com]

Bicarbonate is regulating the acidity in coffee. You want to have at least some alkalinity, which keeps the pH stabile to balance the flavour of the coffee. However too high alkalinity will prevent sensing the pleasant acidity even though it is there present coffee. The taste is dull, flat and earthy. Cupping portions are foaming. On the other hand with too low alkalinity, coffee tastes vinegary and sour.

Acidic water is bad for extraction but good for flavor. Also, corrosion will be a problem for coffee equipment. Basic water is good for extraction but bad for flavour. The lower the values for total hardness and alkalinity are, the less scale will be formed. 

In the end it definitely pays off to check the brewing water quality to ensure you will result in having a more balanced cup of coffee.

SCASA's National Coffee Competitions will feature three disciplines: the Barista Championship, Cup Tasters Competition and the Latte Art Competition, running 21-24 February at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

For more information email: info@scasa.co.za