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An Easy Espresso Water Recipe Using A Water Calculator – Third Wave Water

Espresso Water Recipe

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Have you wondered what an espresso water recipe is, to begin with? If you are new to the coffee making world, let us break the ice and whisper the secret – Baristas use special water for coffee making! 

All you need is bicarb soda (baking soda, NOT baking powder), epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), and distilled water as your base ingredients to make espresso water.

So head out to your local pharmacy or grocery store to stock up on the ingredients and put on your lab coat before we begin our little experiment.

The water used in coffee determines how it interacts with the caffeine molecules, as we mentioned in our previous chemistry blog.

As a coffee scientist, you need to understand the science behind water, reactions, temperatures, and consistency to be able to alter your coffee accordingly. 

You can also use our brewed coffee compass to fix the harshness or sourness of coffee by bringing it to balance with a few fixes because the problem around the world is most often that the tap water is too hard and reverse osmosis water is too soft for coffee making.

For the purpose of this study, let’s assume you’re a coffee scientist that’s about to experiment with water alone.

Throw on your lab coat and walk into our coffee lab today as we take you through the science behind espresso water and let you experiment practically. 

We’ve added a water calculator at the end of this blog that you can utilize as a tool to balance your water for the recipe. 

You can get trained in coffee making to give your Barista career a kickstart with our Barista Training Course In Australia

What Is Espresso Water? 

Espresso Water Recipe

The water quality makes a huge difference to the flavor of the coffee because the water in different regions contains salts that could make it taste muddy, dull, or flavorless.

The ratio of salts in water differs from country to country and state to state because the salt levels in water vary geographically. The water in Australia tastes different from the water in Dubai. 

Chlorine levels, minerals, alkalinity, Ph levels, and water hardness highly influence the flavour of coffee.

Espresso water is following a list of guidelines for water quality that balances out excess chlorine, minerals, or salts to ensure even extraction and consistent flavour. 

Does Ph Value Impact My Coffee Water?

Yes. It will impact your coffee water. Your coffee water should ideally have a neutral pH level of around 7.0.

If your coffee water is more acidic or has a pH below 7.0, this will bring out the coffee’s natural acids and enhance the flavour.

Coffee tastes better when the water is acidic, so avoid alkaline water with a pH above 7.0.

What Is Water Hardness? 

Espresso Water Recipe

The mineral content of the water, notably the calcium and magnesium carbonates, is referred to as water hardness. Water that falls from the sky is naturally soft and gentle until it interacts with minerals. 

The main characteristic of hard water is its high milligrams per litre mineral content. Soft is defined as 60mg/l or less.

How Does Hard Water Impact Coffee? 

Espresso Water Recipe

Coffee tastes “flat” and lacks scent if the water is harder than 8°dKH. This situation arises because coffee acids are neutralised by hard water.

The longer the water remains in touch with the coffee powder, the greater the impact. Overly hard water is unsuitable for an espresso machine or when preparing your cold brew

What Is Water Softness? 

Espresso Water Recipe

Soft water usually doesn’t contain dissolved salts like iron, calcium, or magnesium.

When water passes through the rocks, it gathers the minerals from rocks, forming deposits that show up in hard water. 

Some parts of Australia have hard water flowing through its systems, while others, like Western and South Australia, have hard water and more chlorine.

Compared to hard water, it makes soap more effective because hard water can render the soap’s components inactive.

How Does Soft Water Impact Coffee?

The flavour of your coffee is also influenced by coffee water that is softer than 5°dKH. Therefore, it is quite likely to result in over-extraction.

As a result, your coffee turns exceedingly sour and bitter and is ultimately impossible to drink.

These factors tell you if water can be classified as hard or soft water: 

  • Soft under 60 mg/l 
  • Moderately hard between 60 and 120 mg/l 
  • Hard between 120 and 200 mg/l 
  • Extremely hard above 200 mg/l

Water Calculator To Measure Hard or Soft Water 

Espresso Water Recipe

Does Water Have To Be Soft For The Espresso Machine? 

There are minerals in the water, and some of them cause limescale. The most common components of limescale are calcium sulphate (CaSO4), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and magnesium carbonate (MgCO3). Limescale will consolidate to produce solid particles.

They tend to enlarge until they prevent seals from closing or clogging the water channel. It can result in enough damage, whether whole or partial, to make the equipment malfunction. 

You might experience pressure or heat problems when the machine is choked, which can lead to the failure of multiple components at once.

When limescale is discovered in one place, it is a sure sign that the entire water network and numerous linked components are affected.

This may result in a variety of problems and very pricey fixes. 

There is no guarantee that a technician can remove all the limescale to prevent issues until you obtain an overhaul.

How To Descale Your Coffee Machine From Limestone

Why descale your coffee machine? The mixture of calcium and magnesium carbonate, heated to high temperatures, produces limestone. 

Limestone build-up narrows down the pipes from which water and coffee flow, thereby slowing down the process of heating and utilizing more energy. Maintaining the descaling schedule advised by the manufacturer is crucial. 

Using an in-tank or outboard water filter, as advised by the manufacturer, will help you increase the period between descaling maintenance depending on how hard your water is. In some circumstances, a good filter makes descale completely unnecessary. 

Both calcium and magnesium are basic elements found in water, and when they interact with carbon dioxide, they form calcium and magnesium carbonates. 

When these components are mixed in hot water (the water that goes through the machine’s pipes to extract the coffee), they solidify and produce the infamous “limescale,” a white powder resembling gypsum.

As a result, the machines in which this inner limescale is present don’t operate well in terms of stability, temperature, extraction capacity, or drying of the coffee tablet after extraction.

What Are Specialty Coffee Association Guidelines For Espresso Water?

Espresso Water Recipe
  • Reduce chlorine or any offensive odour
  • Clearwater 
  • Total alkalinity near 40 ppm as CaCO3 Calcium at 68 ppm as CaCO3 or between 17 and 85 ppm as CaCO3 
  • pH should be close to 7 / between 6.5 and 7.5 
  • Sodium at or near 10 mg/L 
  • 150 mg/L of total dissolved solids (TDS), or 75–250 mg/L

How To Measure Hardness or Softness Of Water? 

Espresso Water Recipe

You can measure the hardness or softness of water using a test trip that can measure the level of minerals in your water.

Hard water usually causes a high mineral content that causes scaling up to build within the espresso machine.

You don’t want that to impact your machine negatively, leading to higher maintenance costs and machine failure. 

You will choose a descaling schedule based on your computer and the test results.

The test results are inputted into several super-automatic bean-to-cup machines, which use the water filter to determine when to descale the machine, depending on that usage.

How To Use The Strip 

You can remove it from the packaging by tearing at the line next to the four squares.

Now, submerge it for one second in the water that will be used in your machine, remove it, gently shake off any excess, and then set it on a level surface. Read the results after one minute.

Now it’s simple to read the findings. Note the number of red and green squares. Although there may be a slight colour difference, you should be able to distinguish between the red and green squares and count how many of each colour there are.

The strip’s packaging usually includes a key for understanding the findings, but it can be a little confusing, so here are a few tips to understand your results:

  • Water with a total hardness of less than 3 and 4 green squares is very soft.
  • Water with a hardness of 4 to 7 and 1 red square is very soft water.
  • 2 red squares equal 7 to 14, suggesting the water is gentle.
  • A 3-red square pattern indicates hard water (14 to 21).

Additionally, if all four squares are red, the water is exceptionally hard, and the total hardness value is higher than 21.

How To Make Espresso Water? 

Espresso Water Recipe

Filtered water with a comparatively low dissolved mineral content is what we need. Furthermore, the flavour of that water will be subtly altered by the particular dissolved minerals in it. 

60ppm of either primarily dissolved sodium or mostly dissolved magnesium may be present in water with a TDS rating of 60.

Both those choices will have very different tastes, and the majority of water softening treatments either add or take one of those two minerals out of your water.

To assess your water’s hardness, it is advisable to grab test strips.

Should I Use Epsom Salt For My Espresso Water Recipe?

Espresso Water Recipe

Yes. You should add epsom salt to your espresso water recipe. You can add anywhere between 0.75g to 25g of epsom salt to your coffee water recipe to mineralize soft water.

There is no need for any additional scents or substances, such as lavender or rose, while looking for Epsom salt; you just want the ordinary, straightforward, plain type.

Espresso Water Recipe

Espresso Water Recipe

We’ve simplified some complicated recipes out there to make your own espresso water at home with a few simple ingredients that can be found at your local grocery or drug store. 

  • Baking soda 
  • Funnel 
  • Tablespoon
  • Teaspoon 
  • 1 ltr Bottles (Qty 2)
  • Distilled water gallons (qty 2) 
  • Cup for measurement  
  • Epsom Salt 


  • First, give each 1-litre bottle a label reading “magnesium/hardness” and “alkaline/buffer,” respectively. Then, add 1 litre of distilled water to each bottle. You will add the concentrates from these bottles to the SCA-approved gallon of water
  • To the Alkaline/buffer bottle: Add one teaspoon of baking soda and stir until dissolved. Baking soda and epsom salts are non-scaling and non-corrosive, and can be used to make custom hardness/buffer combos very easily 
  • The magnesium/hardness bottle should now contain one teaspoon of baking soda, two and one-fourth tablespoons of the salt, which should be thoroughly shaken until dissolved
  • Pour 1 cup, or 250 millilitres, from your gallon of distilled water
  • Then, add 63 millilitres of the magnesium/hardness mixture to the gallon with distilled water
  • After giving the jug a good shake to combine, you’re ready to brew

Total alkalinity and pH frequently need to be clarified. However, they are not the same thing. With pH = 7, or “neutral,” you can calculate the (logarithmic) ratio of free OH- ions to H+ ions in a solution. 

Higher concentrations of OH- ions result in more alkaline solutions with higher pHs, while higher concentrations of H+ ions result in more acidic solutions with lower pHs.

What Happens When HCO3 Is Added To The Solution?

Espresso Water Recipe

The amount of HCO3- ions, which can catch any free H+ ions introduced to the solution and prevent them from making the solution more acidic by creating carbonic acid, is commonly used to evaluate total alkalinity. 

Can I Make Espresso Using Soft Water? 

We’ve understood how the hardness of water affects the espresso water and, ultimately, the machines.

Alternatively, the softness of water lacks some essential minerals, which could affect your final brew. 

The trick is to balance your water to get it right for your coffee, regardless of which country it is made in.

Remineralization of Soft Water 

Remineralization is crucial for water that has been softened or gone through the RO process.

Remineralization entails adding some key minerals that ensure the water and coffee mix properly.

There are a number of well-known water treatment products available that add a consistent balance of minerals designed specifically for brewing coffee. 

These processes enable baristas to remineralize distilled water by adding minerals and hardness with a tiny amount of pre-mixed solution.

Importantly, adding these components will guarantee that the water won’t harm your coffee maker.


Hard water causes your coffee to go darker, while soft water causes it to go lighter, which leads to the same result – Imbalanced coffee.

As a Barista expert, it is important to take corrective measures before you brew your coffee like a scientist does before he makes his medicine. 

Espresso water is one of the many elements that you have to get right before you balance and fix issues that affect the quality of your coffee because you have to make coffee that creates a lasting impact on your customers to keep them coming back for more! 


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