According to Wired magazine, coffee is 98.25% water. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone and we really didn’t need to consult Wired to know coffee is more water than anything else. So what? The water you use to make your coffee will have one of the greatest impacts on the flavor of your coffee. Several months ago, Mike and I talked about controlling every variable for great coffee and that suggested getting people to use a specific water for their coffee would give a consistency to their every day brew that could ensure quality and flavor on a level home-brewers have never had.
We talked about mailing out bottled water with subscription services. But how much water would you have to mail? A lot. And it’s heavy. We looked into partnering with a Phoenix bottler and concluded it wasn’t feasible. It would cost way too much. Nobody would buy it. Maybe we could slip a little bottle in with a custom gift set, but after that people are on their own. So, depressingly, we changed our tone to thinking “how much does it matter anyways? Isn’t regular filtered water just good enough?”
Well, as fate would have it, that depression didn’t last long because there was a much bigger water nerd out there obsessing over the same questions. How do you control all variables for people desiring the best cup at home or seeking to duplicate the flavor of their favorite café? Enter Third Wave Water, the hero in this story.
Third Wave Water CEO and CTO Taylor Minor outfitted his café with a $40k water system and his customers told him they weren’t able to duplicate the same flavor at home as he does in the shop. Not surprising, really, but customers don’t always know what’s hiding under the granite countertops. Even if they’re using the same grinders, coffee, and brewing methods –the water (98.25% of coffee) is different.
When I wrote the first version of this article, we hadn’t tried Third Wave Water yet. We just recorded podcast episode #20, and I had a mind to set Mike up with a blind taste test to debunk Third Wave’s claims of making the perfect coffee water. There’s no way their claims could hold water. You mix a capsule of minerals in a gallon of distilled water.
That concept is sound- If you start with distilled water that everyone has access to and put certain additives in it everybody has the same coffee water from the same ground zero foundation. In theory, this would allow the same coffee drinker in Oregon to get the same cup as a coffee drinker in Frankfurt, Germany. I was concerned about pre-wetting and throwing water away, the cost of $2 per gallon for water my filter could make for much cheaper.
Well, I tried the water and have eaten a huge slice of humble pie. I was a sceptic and my desire to set up a blind taste test and show that Third Wave Water was exaggerating was simply ignorant and foolish. The difference is staggering. Coffee tastes more ‘coffee-ish.’ Tea tastes more ‘tea-ish.’ I’m using silly words intentionally because the experience was so incredible, I was at a loss for words. In hindsight, I could come up with better descriptors, but at the time I was so in awe that those were the only words that came to mind.
All I could think was that we need to include this stuff with every order we ship. Mike agreed. No matter the cost, we’re putting it in each box we ship. When we start shipping, of course. But until then, I haven’t missed using Third Wave Water for my coffee and neither should you.