Coffee Machine Technologies Founder John Colangeli on the growing need for water filtration as water quality drops and machine technology and cost of repairs rise.
We have several elements that are necessary to create the perfect espresso, the “foundation” of all espresso machine-based beverages.
But without one element you can’t build a solid foundation, this element is quality water.
Increased awareness of good coffee is water filtration and now more important than ever. If we have water that is altered in taste by any means, how does the café expect to achieve the highest standard for service and taste?
Not too many years ago, the market was very unsophisticated when it came to water filtration. It was just “another expense” and water filtration wasn’t considered necessary to a café. Many cafés were using basic sediment control filters or overseas sand filters, which softened the already soft Melbourne water. Around the same time, at Coffee Machine Technologies (CMT) we were starting to see an increase in scale build up in coffee machines.
Inadequate water filtration can lead to product failure. Most coffee machines will suffer breakdowns within the heating circuit or the water hydraulic circuit when scale forms. Without good filtration, a grain of salt or dirt can block the internal passages or the restrictors in the group heads, which ultimately results in a loss of water flow. Block the flow then everything behind it works harder as a result, again leading to component or machine failure.
The water filtration options we had available weren’t in line with modern water technology and didn’t meet the needs of cafés, so we needed to move ahead to improve the coffee machines longevity.
BRITA was also looking to develop an Australia-wide water filter dealer network and identified CMT as among the largest independent service companies in Melbourne (our consumption of filters per week was the same quantity that a coffee company would order in six months!)
BRITA was able to provide a quality yet economical solution for us and our growing CMT client base. The introduction of the BRITA C150 allowed us to blend the already soft water, but still use the high properties of sediment and carbon control all housed in the one filter.
BRITA and CMT also developed the BRITA C50 to work particularly well in areas with soft water, and for most inner-city cafés, that was more than enough to control scale build up and eliminate external taste from the water.
Our clients saw the immediate economic benefit in terms of service and maintenance. As time progressed, they also started to see water as one of the critical elements to produce the perfect espresso, the foundation of all espresso beverages.
A common misconception I hear is that “our water is good, so why do I spend this money to filter it?”
Back in the day, our data and sales showed us that the water filter was only really needed to remove sediment and for taste control. But as the technology and our taste for coffee have improved, the machines have become more sophisticated, and the water quality has reduced as water table levels drop. The water filter as we know it today needs to work harder to ensure the best taste and the best protection for the equipment. If we were to not evolve water filter technology, then our current day machines would suffer far more breakdowns and higher operating costs.
CMT’s Viper Steamer and Tech-Bar are fine examples of the high-end technology now available in the coffee market, able to deliver quality steam so the barista can produce high-quality silky textured milk.
Generating the steam to texture milk is when the water in the boiler reaches its highest temperature, making it one of the primary causes of limescale build-up, so for an independent steamer like the Viper, adequate water filtration is critical.
When we introduced the Viper Steamer and Tech-Bar technologies to market back in 2015, we already knew that the BRITA filter will be required to maintain the steam boiler and protect it against scale build up, which leads to poor water conditions and boiler component failure.
Good filtration allows the machine or steamer to provide the best quality of steam. If the water isn’t clean, fresh, and at the highest level or quality, then steam isn’t at its purest form. As the boiler reduces with containments and size, then steam is limited and an increase in solid water or condensation is introduced, thus reducing milk texturing opportunities and quality.
Apart from the removal of water contaminants, boiler integrity is fundamental. If the boiler is serving steam and hot water, any reduction or internal build up within the boiler will make the whole system work harder and reduce efficiency. A reduction in efficiency means that capacity is reduced, quality is compromised and ultimately our product brand valve is decreased.
In perfect combination with BRITA, we can ensure reliable options Australia wide, delivering quality hot water and steam without any short- or long-term issues on the equipment, both for texturing milk and hot water supply for the perfect long black or tea.
Over the years working closely with BRITA, we have formed a strong bond and supplier relationship. BRITA is an integral business partner to CMT not only offering water filter solutions and supply but working with CMT on our charity and local community events. Together, we have donated money and support to various kids sporting groups and clubs.
Ultimately, the brand on the filter isn’t the only thing that matters. you need to work closely with the filter supplier to ensure it’s doing the job of preventing failure. Partnering with the correct service provider allows for peace of mind for the operator.
The brand or style of coffee machine used isn’t what’s important either. We look at the environment, location, and, most importantly, the water conditions. Some locations will require more frequent changes as the conditions are more harsh, other less so based on the water evaluation.
As the range from BRITA can accommodate all environments, our regional partners and customers can customise the filter to find the best solution. The blending of water allows for a safe and controlled environment. BRITA also supplies various sizes, which allows the café to invest in a larger filter that may only require one change per year as opposed to two or three times for a smaller filter.
With the quick release head, the café owner can change their own filter at any time without a technician. This means they don’t have to wait for a scheduled service, they can effectively change it if the occasion arises or is required.
Moving forward, the coffee industry we will be more reliant on automation and total water conditioning. As the water quality reduces, we will need to look at Reverse Osmosis systems which will allow for total contaminant removal and then re-mineralising of the water to achieve a constant and safe water level. These systems will monitor the water levels, let us know the correct pH levels and even adjust the water levels all through our phones or devices.
Water isn’t just water anymore. It’s a topic as complex as the equipment and the beans themselves producing that end cup.
BRITA knows water, for more information, visit www.brita.com.au or coffeemachinetechnologies.com.au