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SCA Approved Water: What is it and how do you make it?

24th Jul 2018

While some people might not think twice about the water they are using to make their coffee, it can actually make quite a difference when it comes to flavor. Elements like mineral content, chlorine, pH, alkalinity, and water hardness all play a role in the flavor results you get from your brew. Because of all the variables in our drinking water, the Specialty Coffee Association or SCA, developed a list of water guidelines that are supposed to ensure the best possible extraction and flavor for specialty coffee.

The following recipe is a very simple way to get the appropriate mineral content in water according to the SCA guidelines. Although there are much more complicated methods out there using scales and chemicals, for this cost effective mixture you will need just a few ingredients and supplies that can be found at any drug store or grocery store.

What you’ll need

  • Two gallons of distilled water
  • Two empty 1 liter bottles or containers
  • Baking soda
  • Epsom salt
  • A funnel
  • A teaspoon
  • A tablespoon
  • A measuring cup that measures milliliters

The Recipe

  1. First, label each 1 liter bottle - one with “magnesium/hardness” and the other with “alkaline/buffer”. Then, fill each bottle with 1 liter of distilled water. These bottles will contain concentrates that you will add to the SCA approved gallon of water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle labeled alkaline/buffer and mix until dissolved.
  3. Add 2 ¼ teaspoons of epsom salt to the bottle labeled magnesium/hardness and shake well until dissolved.
  4. Take your gallon of distilled water and pour out 1 cup or 250 milliliters.
  5. Then, to the gallon jug, add 63 milliliters of the magnesium/hardness mix.
  6. Next, add 185 milliliters of the alkaline/buffer mix.
  7. Shake the jug well to mix and then you are ready to brew!

Using these ratios, you will have enough magnesium mixture to dose approximately 15 gallons of water and enough alkaline mixture for 5 gallons of water.

For more information on the specific SCA guidelines for water, visit their website: