Many coffee brewers today use regular old tap water to brew their daily pot of coffee, especially in the office or in the morning when schedules are tight. While tap water works well in a pinch, a great cup of coffee simply isn’t possible without starting with fresh, filtered water. There are a few reasons for this and they are even more important when you’re using a French press with your beans.
First and foremost, brewing coffee is very much a chemical reaction. The rich tannins and flavors within the coffee bean are released into the water via the heating process with brewing. The makeup of the water and small mineral components within the water can easily affect the overall flavor and resulting quality of the brewed coffee.
Just as old or poor quality beans can lead to horrible tasting coffee, poor water quality can have the same effect. Many times, tap water contains higher salt content and higher mineral content. Coffee that’s been made with tap water often tastes salty and bitter, a direct result of high mineral content.
The best water to use for your coffee is clean, carbon-filtered water. Most bottled water and water coolers will suffice for this water. When you use a French press, the best and easiest way to use filtered water is to buy a cooler that comes with a heating function. This way, you can fill up your French press straight from the cooler and have readily hot water available. Simply filling up the pot with this water and letting it brew will give you great tasting coffee as long as you’re using the right grind and bean.
Second, the most dangerous threat to the life of your coffee maker and French press is hard water. Hard water contains too many trace minerals that taint the taste of the water and degrade mechanical appliances. When you brew with hard water over and over again, you’ll find that your coffee maker becomes coated in white mineral residue. This can drastically cut down on the lifetime of your coffee maker and makes cleaning very difficult.
French presses are no different when it comes to hard water. French presses that have been used with hard water for more than a few weeks become gunky and coated. Even with tough cleaning and rinsing, hard water deposits generally won’t come off after they’ve been there for more than a few days. Continuing to rinse and clean with hard water doesn’t help the situation either. If you use a French press that’s coated with hard water stains, your coffee will be tainted during the brewing process- even if you use filtered water.
From the get-go, it’s important to use clean filtered water with your French press. Even a few uses with tap water can cause mineral buildup and poor tasting coffee for the lifetime of your press pot. The taste of a great brewed French press coffee pot is well worth the effort to use the cleanest and purest water available.