December 1, 2018

Coffee - "Like Water for Coffee" and Hempstead Water

Hempstead "water".  A discussion of making the best water for coffee extraction. But first, a riff on water and pizza...

Those of you who know me know that I don't think much of the 'pizza tastes better in NYC because of the water' argument. I did some research into this back in the day and came to the same conclusion that Kenji Lopez-Alt and others had; that water was pretty insignificant in a pizza recipe; and that the yeast, salt, flour, oil, fermentation time, and handling of the dough were more important for the final result.

I had been intrigued by this because Coppa Osteria in Rice Village makes an excellent pizza and claims that one critical ingredient which makes their pizza crust so delicious is the use of bottled spring water from Italy; used in making the dough. An expensive proposition but a worthwhile one if true.

Well, this had me scratching my head at the time. So I did one batch at home with distilled water, one identical batch with Italian spring water, and one identical batch with Houston water. The yeast, 00 Italian flour, oil and salt were standardized for each pizza dough.

No discernible difference in any of the three pizza crusts.

But a few months back I happened to have a drip coffee at the McDonalds in Hempstead and it was really good. I wondered if maybe the minerals content of Hempstead water contributed to that. We all know that coffee flavor can be affected by water mineral content. So, on my road trip yesterday (see previous posting), I stopped off and filled up some bottles from the McDonalds faucet. Today, I ran some coffee using the Hempstead water and the coffee tasted pretty damn good!  Is it Hempstead water? Is McDonald's filtering and making their own water for their coffee and soft drink machines? Anyone know?

Still empirical. No science to back this up though, that is, to verify the mineral content.

This all brings me to the following links which discuss the production of water with a mineral content designed for extracting the desirable components in coffee. If you have an accurate scale you can try making your own gallon of coffee water.

Manual Coffee - A Great First Read Article on Coffee and Water

Tinker Coffee - Water Recipe and Discussion

Jim Schulman's Insanely Long FAQ on Water and Coffee

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