Coffee Shops Need a Commercial Reverse Osmosis System
Walk into any coffee shop or cafe, and ask if they use reverse osmosis water for their drinks, most likely they do. In fact, a very large coffee shop brand with the green logo installs a commercial reverse osmosis system in each cafe. The reason why they do this is to make sure that coffee in California tastes the same as coffee in Dubai, UAE. This is done not only for a better cup of coffee, but it’s also to maintain brand continuity in terms of water quality, taste, flavors, aroma, and appearance.Since coffee is 99% made of water, the quality needs to be at a level that is higher than what the source is. Water varies from city to city, and that means that city water in one particular area could actually be soft and not carry too many minerals, chemicals, or contaminants. While another city’s water source is from a well that has a high count of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.
As mentioned above, taste and aroma are taken into consideration when brewing coffee. During a “cupping” session, Roast Masters will first take a whiff of the coffee, then take a spoon and take quick slurps or sips of the coffee being tested. That’s when they take inventory of the various flavor notes, nuances, and aromas that are detected. The water used in cupping is typically from a reverse osmosis (RO) system because the water it produces is 99% free of contaminants and it is ultimately pure. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the ideal water for coffee making needs to have a clear appearance, no chlorine at all, and it should have a neutral pH level of as close to 7 as possible.Another aspect of using RO water is to protect equipment. Limescale buildup is a big concern when working with expensive coffee makers and espresso machines. Just to provide some perspective, a 3 group espresso maker by La Marzocco can cost up to $24,000. A dual coffee maker by Fetco are priced around $2000, and most shops will have at least 2 of those units. In brewing equipment alone, a coffee shop will have already invested nearly $30,000. Protecting those machines becomes a top priority in any shop. The biggest threats to these machines would be limescale buildup.
Limescale will develop over time with cold water, but at temperatures between 89-104 degrees Fahrenheit, limescale production is accelerated. This is exacerbated by the constant water filling and evaporation in boilers and heating elements. As heating elements get hot and water is used and evaporate, minerals in the water will cling to metal parts. When this process is repeated over and over again, the limescale build-up is inevitable. This will eventually degrade the performance of machines and also affect the flavor of the coffee. However, if an RO system is in use, limescale buildup will not occur since there are no contaminants and mineral content in the water, making it ideal for espresso machines and commercial coffee makers.
According to Barista Guild, a busy coffee shop will go through 600-1000 gallons of water per day, that means a regular residential RO system wouldn’t be up to the task. Most residential systems can only produce 50-100gpd of pure water. The Pro+Aqua PRO-RO is up for the task, with a 1000gpd capacity. This system allows for ultimate customization to allow a coffee shop to create their own water profile. Needle valves on the PRO-RO lets the operator control if they want 100% pure RO water or if they’d like to allow some of the source water come through to adjust Total Disolved Solids (TDS) levels. By doing so, coffee shops can create a water profile that best enhances the beans they are roasting. Certain coffee beans react well with minerals, providing a smokey or earth notes when coffee is brewed with a higher TDS, while others require no TDS in the water to achieve optimum flavors and aromas.
The Pro RO is a great option for any busy coffee shop, it has the capabilities to produce 1000gpd, fully customizable water output, easy to operate and it’s affordable. This system can be had for less than $1700. That price is nothing compared to the amount of money a business would save in the long run from having to repair or replace expensive equipment. To give you an idea on how much parts are for a typical 3 group La Marzocco espresso machine, here’s a list of items that usually get corroded if hard water is used instead of RO water:
Water inlet manifold-$70
The parts mentioned above when added up, costs roughly $1690, pretty close to the cost of the PRO-RO. We’re not saying that the PRO-RO is going to prevent your machines from needing service or those parts, but what it does do is help your machines last longer since it’s free of minerals that cause limescale buildup. Think of the commercial reverse osmosis system as a money maker for your coffee shop. It helps make your coffee taste better and it helps prevent costly repairs caused by minerals found in your source water.