Best water filtration system for coffee shops

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
Odor 1Odor-Free/ Clean and Fresh –
ChlorineNoneNone
Calcium hardness50-175 ppm calcium carbonate50-175 ppm calcium carbonate
Alkalinity40 ppm40-70 ppm calcium carbonate
pH7.06-8
SCA water quality standards

Odor/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. Solvent odors are usually caused by a leaking underground storage
  • Pharmaceutical and chlorine odors – chlorination is a common method of water purification and 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 result in a salty taste in water. If you live in a coastal city, the seawater could also be seeping into your freshwater supply.
  • Sulfur contamination – if you have a rotten-egg smell in your water, then it’s very probable that you have sulfur contamination. This is usually caused by bacteria 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 it

Solution: Use a Reverse Osmosis system

Chlorine contamination

Chlorination is used by most municipalities to purify the 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 and that 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 increases your risk to get 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 have a direct impact on the taste of water. Demineralized water has a flat taste and 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 and that is why it’s recommended to use water that has very little calcium content. Otherwise, the calcium will filter out the flavor from your coffee and it will not taste any 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 and 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 contaminates like fluorine, chlorine, and heavy metals from water. The unfiltered water is forced by pressure through a semipermeable membrane that filters out the contaminants and the result is 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 and that 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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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 which 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.

Pros
  • 400GPD flowrate
  • Smart indicating system to let know when you need to replace your filters
  • Easy installation designed for DIY
Cons
  • Not recommended for well water

Frizzlife RO System

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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. When 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.

Pros
  • Convenient installation and replacement
  • Built-in alkaline pitcher
  • Advanced water-saving technology
  • 1.5:1 Low Drain Ratio
Cons
  • Has a small audible hum when working
  • 1-second delay when turned on before water starts flowing

Purlette RO system

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

Pros
  • Real-time alerts through iOS and Android apps
  • NSF, UL, FCC tested and certified for safety and effectiveness
  • East installation
  • Filters up to 400 gallons of water a day
Cons
  • Only works for water that has a TDS of 500 and below
  • Abit heavy especially for old wooden floors

APEC RO system

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The APEC RO system was engineered and developed in the USA so you can be sure it adheres to all USA water and health standards. It is effective in filtering 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 ensure all bacteria are killed. 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.

Pros
  • Comes with a lead-free faucet + tubing and parts to ensure contamination free drinking water
  • Filters both well and tap water
  • Uses a continuous UV light mechanism to ensure the killing of bacteria
  • Engineered and developed in the USA
  • Water filters last for at least 2 years and they remove more impurities than most of their peers
Cons
  • UV bulb installation instructions are not very clear
  • The pre-assembled RO filter cap sometimes leaks and it takes quite some troubleshooting to get around the issue
  • Slow customer support