Yesterday two things happened, that were very, very tightly connected to one another.
First, I had one of the worst caffeine overdose in my whole life. I am personally very sensitive to caffeine (and it is funny for everybody who works in coffee, right? It is fantastic!) – and when I say sensitive, I mean that I cannot drink coffee in the morning, or I will spend the rest of the day extremely tired. As I understand, coffee has an opposite effect on me, and instead of putting me active, it puts me to sleep, makes me feel almost drugged. I had many tricks before that helped me to prevent this situation of overdose – but you have to really stop yourself every time you are drinking coffee. And yesterday they simply didn’t work.
And why they did not work?
Because (here comes the second topic) we installed reverse osmosis system.
Yes, yes, yes, fuckin yes.
Not the water filter to filter out big particles, not buying water in bottles, not using tap water filtered by Brita filter – we got serious and installed reverse osmosis. First reverse osmosis system installed in Portugal for the specialty coffee.
Yesterday I got so caffeinated I couldn’t even celebrate it – but today I will.
I will talk here why I consider it extremely important.
For many years in the places where I was lucky to work, as a barista, and as a roaster, I was talking about water filtration.
Cause water is not only 98% or 95% of your cup of coffee – it is also a solvent. It influences what exactly you will extract from the beans.
Beans can be beautifully roasted – but you won’t be able to taste it, cause your water sucks. Or not sucks – it is simply different from the water which your roaster is using to try the coffee with.
Or you have 5 locations in different parts of the city – and water composition is different everywhere. So your client cannot have the same quality drink in point A and point Z. Just cause of the water, assuming that barista skills are the same.
Or the water composition at your location is changing every week. Or every hour. You are literally brewing with different water all the time – more variables to come, like it is not enough that you have to adjust the grinder all the time for other reasons, measure the dose weight, time of the extraction, extraction weight – here comes new variable, water composition, and all your work is simply useless.
Reverse Osmosis. Filtration with the following remineralization of the water to the given parameters. The same water, every day, every hour. Stability.
They say it is expensive. I say – expensive is not to invest in the stability of the product. Why? I come back to the places with bad service, if I really like the product. I come to the places with the remarkable service, even if the product is mediocre. But I never come back to the places when I don’t know what to expect. When first it was great, and then was bad, and then great again. I don’t want to risk. And I am sure I am not the only one.
For me Reverse Osmosis is the ultimate thing to have in the specialty coffee place. Combined with the experienced barista, quality coffee, and good enough equipment it provides a perfect cup for your guest. All the time.
All the time.
And, a bit of geekiness in the end – yes, let’s finally leave ppm and water TDS – and start talking about what ACTUALLY water has, and how much, instead of just a ppm number. 110 ppm. 110 parts per million. But parts of what??? Answer to this question is much more important than any worries about the PH level.
Know your water. Like you know the ratio of your espresso, or the variety of the coffee you are brewing. Know it and make it stable. Cause other things are just “talks”, image, appearance – the actual work is in making things happen, every time.
If you are in Lisbon, or consider visiting – Montana Lisboa is a place where we treat coffee well 🙂