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Best Water Filtration System for Coffee Shops (Based on Features and Cost)

Coffee comprises 97% water. So, it makes sense that the quality of water used to make coffee greatly impacts its taste. Every good barista uses a water filtration system to get the best quality water.

A good filtration system will make your espresso and other brewed beverages taste great while at the same time increasing the life span of your espresso machine. Then there is also the added advantage of conforming to water quality chemistry standards.

So, whether you are just setting up your brand-new coffee shop or you have been doing it for a while, you may want to invest in a water filtration system. It will make such a H.U.G.E difference.

Editor’s Pick

We will review the best water filtration systems for a coffee shop below. But if you don’t have time to go through our detailed reviews, here’s our top recommendation, the Frizzlife RO system (affiliate link).

We like it because it saves 450% more water when compared to the other RO systems on the market. It also removes 99% of all contaminants in tap water and it comes with a smart LED display that lets you know the TDS and remaining lifespan for your filters.

Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Water quality standards

Before we look at the best water filtration systems for coffee shops, let’s take a minute to go through the water quality standards for coffee shops. The Speciality Cofee Association (SCA) has put in place some standards for water quality that every barista should adhere to.

Apart from ensuring the serving of healthy beverages, these standards are also meant to assist baristas to make great-tasting coffee. Here are the SCA water quality standards that must be observed by coffee shops.

CharacteristicTargetAcceptable Range
OdorOdor-Free/ Clean and Fresh –
Calcium hardness50-175 ppm calcium carbonate50-175 ppm calcium carbonate
Alkalinity40 ppm40-70 ppm calcium carbonate
SCA water quality standards for coffee

Let’s take a look at all of these issues one by one:

  • Odor
  • Chlorine
  • Calcium hardness
  • Alkalinity
  • pH

Odor and taste issues in water

Clean water should be odorless. The last thing you want is coffee that tastes great but smells horrible. Odors in water are often an indication of a contaminated water source, although fixtures and pipes could also result in noticeable odors. 

The following are some of the odors that you might experience in drinking water;

  • Solvent odors – petroleum, fuel, and turpentine are some common examples of solvents that can contaminate water and result in unpleasant smells. A leaking underground storage usually causes solvent odors.
  • Pharmaceutical and chlorine odors – chlorination is a common water purification method that often leaves an odor. The chlorine doesn’t pose a health risk, but too much of the smell can be a nuisance.
  • Metallic taste – copper and iron from the plumbing can corrode and leach into the water. You can send your water to the lab for analysis to pinpoint exactly which metal contamination you have.
  • Salty taste – potassium, magnesium, and naturally occurring sodium can produce a salty taste in water. The seawater could also seep into your freshwater supply if you live in a coastal city.
  • Sulfur contamination – if you have a rotten-egg smell in your water, it’s very probable that you have sulfur contamination. Bacteria usually cause this in the drain or hot water heater.
  • Fishy, earthy, moldy odor – at certain times of the year, bacteria that grow in your sink or organic matter in reservoirs and lakes can cause fishy or earthy odors and taste in water. This is harmless, but definitely a nuisance!

Solution: Use a Reverse Osmosis system

Chlorine contamination

Chlorination is used by most municipalities to purify drinking water. The chlorine in water is, therefore, non-toxic to humans.

The CDC observes that chlorinated water helps to safeguard against common waterborne diseases. That said, the chlorine shouldn’t exceed the recommended levels of 4 milligrams per liter. When in excess, the chlorine will add a bleach-like smell and taste to the water, which can greatly affect the quality of your coffee.

Research also shows that exposure to excessive amounts of chlorine results in the introduction of free radicals in the body. These free radicals are carcinogenic and can therefore have devastating effects on the cells.

To put it bluntly, drinking water that has unsafe chlorine levels potentially increases your risk of getting cancer by almost 93%. Children that are exposed to huge amounts of chlorine could also suffer from asthma attacks. So, even though chlorination is a great way of making water safe for drinking, you don’t want to drink water that has too much chlorine.

Solution: Use a 3-stage reverse osmosis filtration system. Here is a link to a good one (Amazon link)

Calcium hardness

Water hardness is the measure of dissolved calcium ions in water.

Water that has a calcium carbonate concentration of 60 mg/l or below is considered soft water. Natural water sources can have calcium concentrations of up to 100 mg/l. Calcium is an essential mineral for human health and a calcium deficiency can result in serious health issues. However, too much calcium can also cause health complications.

Dissolved minerals like Calcium and magnesium directly impact the taste of water. Demineralized water has a flat taste; that is why some water bottling companies add some minerals in a bit to make the water taste better. But for purposes of brewing coffee, it is a good idea to use filtered water to retain the authentic taste and aroma of coffee. 

Minerals are also known for extracting flavor, so it’s recommended to use water with very little calcium content. Otherwise, the calcium will filter out the flavor from your coffee and will not taste good.

Solution: Use a reverse osmosis system.

Alkalinity and pH

Water pH is the measure of the amount of hydrogen (acid ions) in the water while alkalinity is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate levels in the water.

Carbonates and bicarbonates are usually a result of dissolved limestone in the water. If water has high alkalinity, it also means that it has lots of lime. Since lime neutralizes acidity, alkalinity in water can also be defined as the buffering capacity of water.

The water used for brewing coffee should have a pH of 7 because that is the neutral pH level. If the levels go below 7, the water will be considered acidic; if they go above 7, the water will be alkaline.

Solution: Use a reverse osmosis system.

What is the best water filtration system for coffee shops?

As we have already seen, a coffee shop should ensure they have water that meets the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) water quality standards. In summary, the water should be odor-free, have no chlorine and have a pH of 7.

The surest way of achieving all these is to use a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis systems have been proven to eliminate up to 99% of dissolved solids and other water contaminants like fluorine, chlorine, and heavy metals from water.

The unfiltered water is forced by pressure through a semipermeable membrane that filters out the contaminants, resulting in purified water that tastes great.

PRO TIP: A triple filter reverse osmosis system takes water filtration to a whole new level. This is the secret behind the success of Starbucks. They use a 3-stage RO system, which is why their water (as well as coffee) tastes so darn good! Here is more info on that.

Best water filtration systems reviews

Waterdrop RO system

The waterdrop RO system is NSF and 372 certified so you can be sure to get the highest quality of drinking water. It adopts a tankless design and that saves you lots of kitchen space. It uses a smart faucet that is made from food-grade copper/zinc alloy and it dispenses filtered water in teal time. It also has a smart TDS monitoring panel that will make it easy to know the quality of your water at a glance.

Frizzlife RO System

This under-sink water filter is perfect for filtering out minerals and other dissolved substances from water. It uses a tankless design and so it takes up minimal space but can still filter lots of water per day thanks to its internal prompt mechanism. On average, this RO system can fill up a 330ml cup in a maximum of 10 seconds.

But what really sets it apart from other systems is the water-saving technology. Compared to similar systems on the market, the Frizzlife RO system can save you up to 450% more water. It also remineralizes the water and balances the pH, so there is no need to use an alkaline pitcher. So, if you are thinking of opening a small coffee shop, this would be the perfect system for you.

Purlette RO system

This water filtration system adopts an all-in-one tankless design that saves you a lot of space in the kitchen. It comes with a smart alert feature that sends alerts to your phone (via iOS or Android apps) to help you keep track of your water quality.

This alert system is very handy because it will tell you in advance when to replace your filters. For your convenience, you can even order your replacement filters right from the app. You can trust this system to remove 99% of all impurities associated with tap water ranging from lead and other metals to bacteria and other microorganisms. It is also very effective in removing the chlorine taste from water.

APEC RO system

The APEC RO system was engineered and developed in the USA to ensure it adheres to all USA water and health standards. It effectively filters out 99% of contaminants, including fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, heavy metals, and thousands of other contaminants.

Unlike other RO systems that are only meant for tap water, the APEC system is also designed for filtering well water. It also uses a continuous UV light mechanism to kill all bacteria. The system comes with easy-to-follow installation guides (including lots of online videos), so you won’t need to hire a contractor to install it.