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kratos06
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Joined: 2 Apr 2011
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Location: Perth
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Apr 2, 2011, 7:00pm
Subject: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

I have bought an Olympia Cremina manual lever coffee machine. Does anyone know:
  1. What the best water filter is for a coffee machine? How much do they cost and where can I buy it from?
  2. Do I have to have a plumed in filter, or can it be avoided?
  3. What is the cheapest method I can get away with ie. can I use a Brita water filter jug with boiled water?
  4. Does Reverse Osmosis take out all impurities and scale?

thanks, kratos06
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flathead1
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Posted Sat Apr 2, 2011, 8:55pm
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

First, congratulations on the Cremina.  New or used?

The best filter isn't easy to answer. Depends, how bad is your local water? Chris Coffee in the USA sells
hardness test strips (under accessories), perhaps there is an AUS source or some way to get a reading on local hardness in ppm .

If your water is very hard then go with RO water. People will till you it can't be used
because the lack of minerals keeps the auto fill from working. Hey. it's a Cremina. the auto
fill is the operator watching the sight glass as he pours water into the boiler.

Plumbed in can't happen with the Cremina so I am assuming you mean something either whole
house or undersink. Again depends on the quality of your local water, do you currently drink tap water?

As Chris points out the Brita filter does take out hardness and I've used one extensively but I still have to de-scale
about once a year. Not sure what boiling the water will do for hardness, probably increase it because the steam escaping
is pure H20 and it leaves the minerals in the water you're going to filter.

RO does remove everything (at least that's whats advertised) and as a result the problem with the auto fill on (semi) automatic machines. Some also say the lack of minerals makes the coffee taste flat, but having never used RO I can neither confirm or deny it.

Doesn't exactly answer your question does it? An answer may come from your machine, if it's used and comes from your local area.
Take off the fill cap and shine a light down the top. If it looks clean then it was either recently de-scaled or has been used with soft water. If it is crudded up with scale then you need to de-scale and find out from the previous owner what kind of water they used and how often or if the had to de-scale.

Again, good luck with your machine, I'd say go with a Brita until and unless something indicates otherwise.
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calblacksmith
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Posted Sun Apr 3, 2011, 12:21pm
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

RO water makes bad coffee, as was said, flat taste. No autofill on your machine so no worries on that issue.

Do get some test strips at the least. Britta is likely fine for you. Search for and read the insanely long water FAQ, it will answer everything and more that you want to know.

 
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Ciclisto
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Posted Mon Apr 4, 2011, 7:39am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

Why do you think you need a filter at all?  It really depends on what's in your water.  In lots of places the tap water works just fine for making espresso.
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frcn
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Posted Mon Apr 4, 2011, 8:47am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

There is no one water filter system that will meet all needs unless you go overkill.. that would be take everything out of the water (RO) then put something back in (calcite cartridge).

You first have to analyze the water you have, either using some good test strips or a water service that does that for you. In the States, Sears does (did?) water analysis for free. They do not check for biological factors, but for minerals, metals, etc.

If you water just tastes bad then maybe just a particle filter and a carbon post filter.
If it is hard (high calcium levels) you might put a cation between the two filters mentioned above.

A good start would be to read Jim Schulman's The Insanely Long Water FAQ.

 
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kratos06
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Joined: 2 Apr 2011
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Location: Perth
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Posted Tue Apr 5, 2011, 3:19am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

Thanks for that.

It is a brand new coffee machine that I have been researching and waiting for for a long time. I am looking forward to it arriving from the manufacturer in Switzerland (Olympia Express) where it is being built as we write!

It seems pretty unanimous that I should test the tap water with some test strips. I did call the water corp and they gave me a reading for my area of 0.89 to 1.45 millimol/L which I think can be converted into milligrams/L by timesing it by 18 which is the molecular weight of water. If that is correct, which I am a little unsure about, then the water here is actually quite soft 16 to 26 milligrams/L. It kinda sounds too good to be true though.

I have been researching the Brita C150kit. Has anyone heard about it and whether it is any good?

Also, Bombora do two types of filters:
  1. Scale inhibitor
  2. Water softener which works on ion exchange
    Does anyone know which one would be better for filtering the most minerals out of water?

thanks, Kratos06
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frcn
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frcn
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Posted Tue Apr 5, 2011, 7:38am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

The ion exchange takes scaling minerals out of the water and replaces them with either sodium (if using sodium chloride) or potassium (if using potassium chloride). Removing the calcium chloride means that there are no (or very little) scaling minerals in the water so scale is prevented. The inhibitor adds a chemical into the water to keep the scaling minerals from depositing in the machine. If you choose that type, I would research exactly what is being added to the water.

I have very hard water so wanted to remove the hardness. I am not worried about the sodium in the water as the cartridges add very little. Even in very hard water (about 10 grains/L), only around 300 milligrams of sodium would be added to a gallon (4L) of water. A white bread sandwich can have about 320 milligrams in just the two slices of bread.

Also be aware that if you get into a patented system (Bunn, Cuno, etc.), these use proprietary technology and lock you into their replacement cartridges.

I have a new article on my website (just added) about the system I designed and am installing: http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/water1.html

 
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signal15
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Joined: 2 Jan 2006
Posts: 115
Location: Brooklyn Park
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 5, 2011, 8:45am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

I just had my water tested through Ward Labs.  It's like $20.  My TDS was too high, and so was pH and some other things.  I figure if I mix about 3/4 distilled water with my carbon filtered tap water, it will bring everything down to where it needs to be (around 90 for TDS).  

I have a carbon block filter that I got from Filter Direct.  Cost me $30 shipped for the filter, clear housing, tubing, and faucet.  I bypass my softener for it because I hate the taste of softened water.  The carbon block removes chlorine and any off flavors.  Best tasting water I've had, even if the TDS and pH are a bit too high for coffee brewing.  

Realistically, even at 360ppm+ of TDS, I really don't have much scale in my Moka pot.  I use it at least twice a day, and have never descaled it.  

I don't think it's necessary to spend a ton of money on water treatment unless you have yellow/brown well water that smells like rotten eggs.  You should be able to get a carbon filter, and mix distilled or RO water with it to get it to where you need it.  Filter Direct also has full RO systems for like $130, and they use non-proprietary cartridges so you should be able to get replacements anywhere.

Also note that while Brita/PUR filters will lower your TDS considerably, you do not have control over it, and they also dramatically raise the pH because of the way they work.  Getting baseline reading for your tap from Ward will give you a good starting point so you know how much distilled or RO to mix with it.  It will be consistent.
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lifeandpeace
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lifeandpeace
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Posted Tue Apr 5, 2011, 8:57am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

I've been immensely happy using Aquasana's counter filter for six years.

 
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frcn
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frcn
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Posted Tue Apr 5, 2011, 9:11am
Subject: Re: What is the best water filter to use for a coffee machine?
 

I could be wrong, so check this out, but as I understand it, TDS figures can be misleading. The TDS meters will show all dissolved solids that are conductive (I think). The TDS coming out of a ion exchange will be roughly the same as the TDS going in. That is because it is, as the name suggest, an exchange of molecules. So it is important to get an analysis of what the minerals are, and not just how much exists in the water. Calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are the ones to check for as these are the ones that scale..

 
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