One of the biggest issues in the coffee industry today is a problem that the industry has been trying to deal with for over 40 years.
To make a great tasting coffee or tea you need to have great tasting water and this has always been a contentious and problematic issue for the coffee and tea vending industry due to the many issues with taste and also machine reliability.
Recent press articles have commented on the need for clear criteria for the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water. Baristas and other coffee ‘experts’ have stated that high levels of these elements are needed to extract the flavour from the coffee and tea. These opinions have divided the industry as there are conflicting options available in the industry which confuses all parties concerned.
The main problem for machine operators/service companies is that the water in our country is constantly changing and in some areas water supply companies frequently mix localised water with other water sourced from around the country, therefore causing fluctuating pH levels.
Neutral water is 7 pH, therefore anything that lowers the pH drastically could cause acidic water. The pH hard scale is logarithmic and as a result each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the previous value. For example a pH value of 4 is ten times more acidic than pH 5 and 100 times more acidic than pH 6.
The issue of acidic water can result in the consumer experiencing bitter or metallic tasting drinks. Ideally a minimum of 6.5 should be observed in all coffee/tea machines, where possible.
Many filter manufacturers who use Ion Exchange resins have to blend or mix the water by ever changing amounts to find the optimum pH levels which can be a very complex job that needs to be performed by suitably experienced engineers.
Another issue is machine reliability due to scale build up as this cost the industry millions of wasted man hours during a year and is one of the ever increasing costs. The industry has been trying to find a solution to this issue for years and has been using a mixture of high level calcium water treatment systems that help remove minerals that can cause hard scale issues over time.
Excessive scale build up can cause the machines to break down with issues such as blocked pipes, temperature control problems, leaks etc which will in turn potentially leave a customer with no machine and costly servicing. The service companies are constantly balancing the filtration needs of the local water so not to affect the taste of the products, along with cost effective filtration and servicing.