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Should You Use Distilled Water for Coffee? The Surprising Answer

Hario kettle pouring

You might think that the purest water would make the best coffee. All of the delicious bean flavor and none of the random minerals in tap water, right? Not so fast! There are three good reasons to think twice before switching to distilled water: flavor, health, and coffee maker maintenance.

Today we’re taking a close look at the pros and cons of this purified water. What exactly is it, and should you use distilled water for coffee? Keep reading to learn what you need to know!

The Short Answer
Don’t use distilled water for coffee — it won’t taste very good! Use filtered water instead.

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What is distilled water?

Distilled water is water purified to be completely mineral-free. Regular tap water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. Those are the minerals you have to clean out of the inside of coffee machines in the descaling process.

If you’ve ever been to a whiskey distillery, you know the basic process. Distilled water is heated until it turns to vapor. That vapor is collected and allowed to recondense. The resulting water is free of minerals and thus distilled.

Distilled Water for Coffee: How does it affect flavor?

happy smiling coffee
Image Credit: Amanda Lins, Unsplash

In the case of coffee water, pure doesn’t mean delicious. If you use distilled water to make coffee, it will not taste the way it normally does. This is because the minerals in tap water contribute positively to the coffee flavor! According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the ideal mineral content of water for coffee is 150 parts per million. For reference, water with more than 200 ppm is considered hard.

Is it better for your health?

health benefits of decaf coffee

Not particularly, because you are missing out on the potential health benefits of calcium and magnesium. Many studies have shown that the minerals in hard water are beneficial to your health. These minerals may even protect you from some types of cancer and other illnesses!

Is distilled water better for your coffee maker?

Mr. Coffee pouring

Surprisingly, no! Though distilled water would save you from having to descale your machine, it still is not good for the interior. To understand why, we have to take a quick trip back to chemistry class.

Distilled water doesn’t have any minerals in it, and therefore doesn’t have ions. The metallic components of your coffee maker do have minerals — copper, steel, brass — so when you pour in distilled water, it steals ions from those metals. This slowly breaks down your coffee machine, meaning that you’ll have to repair or replace it sooner!

What kind of water should you use for coffee?

best coffee to water ratio

The best water to use for coffee is filtered water. As the name suggests, that’s water you pour through a filter. Filters made with charcoal or other filtering substances can lower — rather than zero out — the mineral content of your water. Filters are especially useful if you have hard water, which would cause a lot of mineral buildup in your coffee machine. Using filtered water, you’ll still get enough minerals for coffee flavor and health benefits — without having to descale your machine constantly.

SEE ALSO: What’s the Best Kind of Water for Coffee? (It Makes a BIG Difference!)

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The bottom line? Distilled water for coffee doesn’t improve flavor and can be hard on your coffee makers. It’s probably not even healthier for you! That’s why we recommend sticking with filtered water when you make your morning brew. Your tastebuds and coffee machines will thank you.

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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