If you drink black coffee then around 98% of what you are drinking is water so if different types of water taste different then you should definitely consider an alternative to tap water if you love to enjoy a great-tasting cup of coffee.
Is bottled water better for you than tap water?
No. If you live in the UK then there are no health benefits to drinking bottled water versus tap water.
The quality of water in the UK is heavily regulated and the government body, the drinking water inspectorate is fully responsible for making sure that all tap water in the UK is in line with extremely strict standards and legislation.
The marketing of bottled water and the fancy bottles that some of the brands use such as pictures of mountains on the labelling make it seem as though there are health benefits from buying premium bottled water. There isn’t.
Tap Water or bottled water for coffee?
What you do get from bottled water though is improved flavour. If you live in a hard water area then you will be able to taste a chalky kind of taste in your mouth when you drink the water from the tap and that is the limestone that you see build up over time in your kettle.
On an individual glass of water basis, you won’t notice it but if you look in your kettle after 6 months you certainly will see it there and a cup of tea will start to taste pretty nasty when it’s mixed with bits of limescale from the kettle as well as the limescale in the water.
So if you have gone out of your way to buy some decent coffee and perhaps you have invested in a good coffee machine there are definitely a number of benefits to using bottled water to make your coffee rather than tap water.
Flavour is the most important. Good coffee will taste even better if you are using bottled spring water because it won’t have limestone or chalk in it. Bottled water is purer and will be pretty taste-neutral (won’t have much flavour at all) and that will help to enhance the coffee flavour because the coffee is not being mixed with flavours that we don’t like.
The other benefit which we think is significant is that you simply will not have to descale your coffee machine as much.
Limescale build-up inside your coffee machine can start to affect the flavour of your coffee in the same way excess limescale in your kettle does except you can see inside your kettle but you can’t see inside your coffee machine so it’s not as obvious.
A lot of coffee machines will tell you when it’s time to clean and descale and you should make a point of running a descale cycle at regular intervals if you use tap water. If you don’t then over time the coffee will start to taste bad and just as importantly it will break your coffee machine if left untreated over time.
However, if you use bottled water then you won’t get anywhere near the same level of limescale build-up and so you can clean your coffee machine much less frequently.
Also, some coffee machine can take a water filter which you insert into the water reservoir so if you combine using one of those with bottled water then you will have to clean it out even less.
If you can’t fit a water filter into the water tank of your machine then consider a simple manual water filter like Brita.
So if you want your coffee to taste better and you want to spend less time cleaning your coffee machine then use bottled water.
But bottled water is expensive, isn’t it? Not if you choose wisely………..
What’s the best bottled water for coffee?
Bottled water is all about marketing.
Probably the most famous bottled water of all is Evian. It has a romantic feel about it and the fact it is bottled at source near the shores of Lake Geneva and it comes in nice thick specially designed bottles creates a perception that it is somehow cleaner, fresher and better than other types of spring water.
If you pour Evian into a glass and then pour out another glass using much cheaper supermarket spring water it is going to be impossible to tell the difference in blind tastes, therefore, there is absolutely no need to spend any more money than you have to on bottled spring water.
The important thing to remember is that some bottled water does taste different from others so it is definitely a matter of personal taste.
The best example I can give is Volvic. Personally, I hate it because to me it has a kind of metallic taste to it which I just don’t like but it is hugely popular and clearly millions of people love it.
It’s also a well-known brand and therefore you pay for the brand which is a waste of money and not necessary.
I personally use bottled water for my coffee machine and the one I use is Tesco’s Stockwell and Co 2 litres. This was formerly Tesco Value water but they got rid of that label and changed it to Stockwell and Co to make it seem better because everyone thought that Tesco Value meant poor quality but for water purposes that’s definitely not the case.
Why Tesco’s cheapest bottled water? It’s spring water and it’s bottled in Staffordshire which may not sound as glamorous as “near Lake Geneva” like Evian is but who cares? It tastes the same and the nasty Limescale, chalky taste you get with tap water isn’t present.
The biggest reason we recommend Tesco’s cheapest 2-litre bottle of water is the price which at the time of writing is 17p. That is a ridiculously low price and in fact, I’m pretty sure that they do not make a single penny from that water. I tried to order 100 bottles online once and they restrict the amount you can order in any one go to 20 bottles at a time because otherwise it just wouldn’t add up for them.
All of the other supermarkets do a low-cost 2-litre bottle of water but not all of them are spring water so check the label first.
At that price, it is well worth buying bottled water as it will enhance the flavour of your coffee and you won’t need to clean your coffee machine as much.
Do you already buy expensive bottled water? Buy a cheaper one the next time you go shopping and when you get home try a blind tasting and it is almost guaranteed that you won’t be able to identify which one is which.
Just by switching to cheaper bottled water you can make some significant weekly savings and what better way to use your money more effectively than on better quality coffee.
Coffee is pretty much the opposite of bottled water. If you pay more you will get better quality. If you normally use instant coffee then you can upgrade to ground coffee and for the best taste go for whole coffee beans that you can grind just before brewing.
Tips for making the best cup of coffee you possibly can
There are many different variables to take into account when brewing the perfect cup of coffee:
- Use Fresh Water. If you have a coffee machine with a water reservoir the easiest thing to do is keep topping it up when it gets low and then weeks or even months can go by without it being cleaned out. Try and empty it every couple of days and refill with completely fresh water and then give it a proper clean once a week. Water can and does go stale and that will affect the taste of your coffee if you don’t keep on top of it
- Use Fresh Coffee. There is a bit of a trend here as in fresh is always best and it is no different when it comes to coffee. Use whole beans that have been recently roasted and grind them down just before you brew. That is what the coffee shops do because that’s how you get the best flavour.
- Brew Your Coffee The Right Way. Whether you are using a cafetière or a bean to cup coffee machine or any other type of coffee machine it is important to do it right. If you under extract of over-extract the coffee then it won’t matter how good the water is that you use, the coffee will not taste nice.
So there you have it. Using tap water is absolutely fine for coffee but using bottled water is better because it tastes better.
Don’t be sucked in by the expensive brands of bottled water, it’s just a waste of money and if you drink a lot of coffee then the cost will add up quickly.
If you stick to the cheapest supermarket spring water all of the harsh flavours you normally taste in tap water are removed and at 17p per 2 litre bottle it’s not going to break the bank and compared to spending £3 down at the local coffee shop it’s an absolute bargain.
The above guide will vastly improve the flavour of your coffee by making some easy to implement small changes but if you want to take it to a whole new level then here is a video from coffee expert James Hoffman that takes you to places with water that you never even knew existed!