Path to good coffee starts with the tap

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coffee lib REUTERS A cancer-killing cocktail of the hormone drug tamoxifen and two coffees every day reduced the risk of tumours by 50 percent in women recovering from the disease, researchers said.

Forget luxury machines and expensive beans... scientists have uncovered the secret behind the perfect cup of coffee - reasonably hard tap water.

Coffee-loving experts used different types of water to find out how coffee flavours differed.

They found water composition made a ‘dramatic difference’ to coffee from the same bean - with certain types of hardness boosting the taste.

High magnesium ion levels were found to increase the extraction of coffee into water, though high bicarbonate levels were bad for flavour.

Sodium rich water - such as that produced by water softeners - was also not beneficial to taste, according to chemist Christopher Hendon of the University of Bath.

‘Coffee beans contain hundreds of chemicals; the precise composition depends on the type of bean and how it is roasted,’ Mr Hendon, a PhD student at the university’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, said.

‘The flavour of the resulting coffee is determined by how much of these chemicals are extracted by the water, which is influenced by roast profile, grind, temperature, pressure and brew time.

‘We’ve found that the water composition is key to the proportions of sugars, starches, bases and acids extracted from a particular roast.’

The coffee industry currently uses guidelines on the ideal water for coffee extraction from the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, which puts emphasis on measuring ionic conductivity to quantify the total dissolved solids.

However, the research found it was in fact the proportions of these ions that affected the extraction, and therefore the taste, of the coffee.

‘Hard water is generally considered to be bad for coffee, but we found it was the type of hardness that mattered - while high bicarbonate levels are bad, high magnesium ion levels increase the extraction of coffee into water and improve the taste,’ Mr Hendon said. - Daily Mail

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