Coffee Cupping with water of different TDS value

John Gordon and James Bailey has been experimenting and exploring in details how water affect the taste of coffee. With Chloe on Sunday we started by looking into how most of us might get water from: main and Brita filters and see how it tasted comparing to water from two different RO system with different Total Dissolve Solids( TDS) value and composition of water.
So they are as follows:
1. Main Water from London Lower Sydnham, TDS 325
2. Brita Filter TDS 245
3. RO TDS 80
4. RO TDS 120
5. RO TDS 150

We picked three different coffee roasted by Hasbean Coffee Roasters to see how various water affect the taste:

1. El Salvador Miravelle Washed COE2012
2. Ethiopia Kebel Konga Washed
3. Sumatra Raja Betak Honey Process

On the table we divided the cupping bowls into 4 groups: 3 coffee origins and 1 pure boiled water as control. They were all randomly labelled and orders were mixed within the group so no fix pattern of sequence can be matched.

We then simply cupped all the coffee based on similar routine to the SCAA cupping protocols and encourage al participants to write down tasting notes, of what they like or not and what it is that make that decision.

It is thought provoking that 6 of us identified clearly and agreed on which we dislike most: mains water and Brita water, even Brita actually is very soft (see photo).
When it comes to what we like most, it seems it is more personal and also changes according to the origin of the coffee beans. For example, the Sumatra only taste bitter and roasty with high TDS water and changes to sweet fruit and layered with lower TDS. Furthermore, the same TDS water works for Sumatra would make another coffee (El Salvador here) be a bit too bright even all the tasting notes are there, just too punchy !

What we would like to know next is how water composition affect taste as TDS value is only a generalisation value. It will be interesting to know how other content in water, chlorides, magnesium, bicarbonate, nitrates, potassium, sulphate, sodium, calcium and silica might affect taste and mouth feel of brew.

Chloe is likely to provide you with more information on her blog soon this is a little preview and some thoughts after attending James’ workshop and this test.

Thank you to Chloe in organising it and her colleague that joined with Kate and Mike.

For us, we will definitely have a system (one day) where we have different water for different origin/ character of beans!

Please note, the last two pictures are taken at classes conducted by James and Gwilym last year.









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One thought on “Coffee Cupping with water of different TDS value

  1. Hi Chloe love the website and blog, it is really cool. Hope you got home ok today and had at least an hours rest. It was good to meet you this morning and conversation definately kept me awake. Mark

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