Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's The Water

The Olympia Brewing Company had the right idea. You have to start with good water to make a good beer. Regardless, good water is generally a good idea. If you're making something that requires water as a basic component, however, it isn't always apparent that the quality of the water would make a difference. Especially, if you can't necessarily taste the difference in the water all by itself. Or, if the other ingredient(s) might be considered to have an overpowering flavor or quality.

Like coffee.

I recently reported that I got a new, used, coffee maker for my Portland-area apartment. I love the coffee I make in my Seattle-area home so I was thrilled to finally be able to make a rich cup of coffee at my other location. It was definitely better than what I was drinking before but it wasn't quite right.

I figured the problem was the cheap grinder I bought when I suddenly ran out of ground coffee one day. I had a cache of beans but no grinder. In a pinch, I bought the first (and only) burr grinder that I came upon at Fred Meyer. Otherwise, I would have had to forgo my cup of joe the following morning and as we should know by now, gentle readers, that was wholly unacceptable.

My brother recently told me he uses bottled water in his coffee maker and when a well-intentioned individual used tap water one morning, he could tell the difference. It never occurred to me that the water could make a difference when it came to making strong, black coffee. I always thought it was all about the coffee.

I conducted an experiment. The next time I traveled to my Portland-area apartment, I imported Seattle water (Brita filtered tap water) and ground coffee using my Seattle-based grinder. I put them both in my Portland-based coffee maker and voilà! I had the best cup of coffee I've had in three years outside my Seattle-area home.

The next day I used coffee ground in my $30 Fred Meyer grinder with the Seattle water. It was still better than what I was drinking before but it wasn't as good as Seattle-ground coffee with Seattle water. This led me to conclude that I need to either continue importing Seattle water and pre-ground coffee or I would need to build a coffee pipeline between my two locations.

I'm working on a grant application to fund the pipeline project because I think Congress might be in the mood to fund such a thing. In it, I address ecological concerns thusly:
Leaks from the pipeline won't kill anyone, won't explode, and will only marginally affect groundwater. You might end up with some agitated salmon but it probably won't kill anything. Except, possibly, rust and/or weeds. Further, it is anticipated that a coffee spill may even serve to counter the effects of earlier oil and/or gasoline spills and would behave, in this instance, as an ecological eraser. It is anticipated there is a less than one tenth of one percent chance that this coffee pipeline would rupture concurrently and in the same vicinity as a collision involving a truck carrying ice cream, cookies, and/or chocolate. However, I would personally oversee the cleanup in such an unlikely event.
Full disclosure: I don't live in Seattle. I live near Seattle so I make no representations with regard to Seattle water. What I do represent is that water does make a difference.

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