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What type of water to feed the L1

I am about to pull the trigger on an L1. I was going to plumb it but even running all types of "what you need to soften your water for your espresso machines" in my Vivaldi 2, I still have lime all over the machine. It is possibly what killed it over the past 12 years. There are many types of water available to me. Mineral, spring, distilled, and of course the machine you bring your own jug in to fill. I'm guessing distilled will kill the flavor profile will kill the small nuances in the flavor profile in the bean so maybe mineral water is best? Spring water could mean anything. It's probably tap water. What am I looking for in water quality to make this machine last a lifetime. Is it just softness? What target level in softness am I looking for and what is the best "type" of water is best? I'm a gringo in the USA.


  • hi mike

    two water measures; total dissolved solids (TDS) and temporary hardness (compounds that precipitate out of the water when it is boiling, which produce scale) are relevant for our discussion here. temporary hardness almost always comprises of only calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate

    the temporary hardness value is a subset of the TDS value. i.e. the amount of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are contained within the TDS value

    water for espresso machines is all about balance and moderation, in my view

    go too soft, e.g. reverse osmosis, and you will send the TDS value to zero which by definition means the water has no electrically conductive ions left in it and so the electrical resistance of the water becomes so high that the water level sensor will cease to function reliably

    so, rule one: you dont want TDS to go below a miminium of 30ppm, and you want it as high as possible in terms of the best taste for espresso

    rule two, working in the other direction is you dont want the total of the calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate values to exceed about 70ppm if you want to be sure that limescale deposits will not form in your machine

    so you want the highest TDS value possible, but limited to the extent that the total of amount of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in that TDS value does not exceed 70ppm

    if you are going to use an RO system you will need to use a blending valve to blend back in a portion of filtered but unsoftened water

    if you are going to use a water softening resin filter then you could use BWT or Everpure

    we supply the L1 with a BWT filter that filters and softens, but all these small capacity filters are in my view expensive in terms of cost per litre of water treated

    to reduce the treatment cost per litre you are better off i think to take the one off cost of installation and then enjoy a reduced treatment cost per litre that the larger filter units offer. of course these larger units are no good to you if your needs are insufficient to ensure you need to change the filter at least once a year, the maximum interval that all the filter companies seem to recommend between filter changes whether the resin in the filter is exhausted or not

    the starting point is to get some basic equipment that allows you to measure the TDS and also the calcium carbonate & magnesium carbonate in your water and then using that information make some decisions about how you want to tackle your water treatment

    if your usage is low and you dont want the hassle of a plumbed in water treatment system you might choose to use an appropriate bottled water for example, again you will need to test its properties using the water testing equipment that you have acquired

    kind regards

  • Thank you sir. I'll research these testing kits in my area as soon as I get the nod from my wife. I need a total tally of what I am going to be spending with you, and that email will come as soon as I know what accessories to order which is in my other thread. A 3l tank is plenty for 4 lattes a day 8 months out of the year. If it becomes a hassle, I will look into the plumb kits. I have a brand new in box Mavea system that should get the levels I need if I decide to plumb. It's a ro system that doesn't remove all the hardness.

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    Good morning Reiss. I am going to get this test kit so I can run multiple tests to try different bottled waters. You recommend 70ppm as the goal without going over. What ppm of calcium and magnesium am I looking for? In case the pic doesn't show, it's a test kit for carbonate hardness, calcium, and magnesium for $43. It's through a website I frequent for my 180g reef tank.

    Just to be clear, I want to test boiling water correct?

    My wife gave me the nod. I told her I would fix the Vivaldi and sell it. It's a dual boiler setup. I am pretty sure it's the 3 way solenoid either stuck from scale or else the motherboard is shot. My group head is now my steamer. Weird. It may just go to the dump. I've put $500 in the last month in it. I should have just got your masterpiece when problem #1 arrived.

    Thanks for all your help. My wife gave me the nod. I will be soon ordering. I am so excited. I sure there is a steep learning curve before I'm pouring God shots. I also think I'll put it on a timer so I'm not changing seals every year. Thanks again for that recommendation.
  • I'm trying to figure out if I need to treat my water at all. Tastes great to me, and from my limited understanding of what you wrote Reiss, I think I'm in good shape. My town posts an annual water quality report - HERE.

    Here are some relevant stats from the link above (the ranges are because I'm not sure which of my towns 2 plants my water comes from):
    Calcium: 5.04-9.74 ppm
    Chloride: 3.8-5.1 ppm
    Sulfate: 7.69-11.6 ppm
    Alkalinity: 28.4-37.3 ppm
    Hardness: 20-38 ppm
    pH: 6.90-7.30 pH units
    Total Dissolved Solids: 67.0-84.0 ppm

    I don't specifically see Calcium Carbonate listed anywhere, just the Calcium number above, and Magnesium isn't listed at all.

    I currently run this tap water through a Mavea charcoal type filter which successfully removes any chlorine taste at the very least.

    Any experts have any thoughts?
  • hi alex

    yes, your water looks good

    the hardness value should be measuring the calcium carbonate & magnesium carbonate (i would assume it to be a total temporary hardness value; less likely but possible is a total hardness value (temporary & permanent hardness combined)

    & you are correct to use a charcoal filter to eliminate the chlorine as it does impact on the taste of the coffee

    kind regards

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