Coffee makers and hard water have a love-hate relationship with each other. Hard water contains minerals like magnesium that add flavor to coffee.
The drawback is that hard water wreaks havoc on a coffee maker by causing residue buildup within the machine which requires regular cleaning.
Cut down on that cleaning time by finding the best coffee maker for hard water so you can have your flavor and drink it too.
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How to Choose the Best Coffee Maker for Hard Water?
Hard water has a definitive impact on the flavor of coffee. Roasted coffee beans contain compounds --- eugenol, citric acid, and lactic acid --- that influence how the resulting coffee will smell and taste.
When these compounds are mixed with tap water, different flavors emerge dependent on the water’s complexity. Hard water has higher levels of ions in it, such as calcium and magnesium; the more of the ions present in the water, the harder the water.
Each of these compounds is “sticky,” prompting them to grab on to the compounds in the coffee beans, and causing different tastes to emerge.
Although using hard water in your coffee can enhance the coffee’s flavor, it also does long-term damage to your coffee maker. Let’s look at how and why hard water damages coffee makers (1).
1. How does hard water harm a coffee maker?
When the compounds in hard water encounter the compounds in coffee, they combine
to form solids. While that gives coffee an added flavor boost, over time, it also creates significant mineral build-up inside the coffee maker’s heating element.
These leftover compounds accumulate in limescale form which will eventually impact your coffee flavor and potentially damage your coffee maker altogether.
As the limescale builds up in an area you don’t regularly see, there could be months worth of debris inside your machine.
Descaling and cleaning a coffee maker are not the same thing as descaling requires more thorough cleaning materials. Here is what can happen if you don’t descale your coffee maker:
- Your coffee won’t be hot enough
- If the coffee doesn’t heat up enough, then the full flavor of the coffee beans will be wasted
- The buildup of minerals can clog water flow in the coffee maker and cause the machine to break down
2. How does hard water impact different types of coffee makers?
Hard water creates limescale buildup that will affect the taste of your coffee and cause irreversible harm to your machine if the coffee maker is not cleaned regularly and adequately.
However, using hard water in your coffee has different effects on different kinds of coffee makers:
- Traditional coffee makers: These machines tend to be the toughest when used with hard water especially over long periods of time. That said, even the most reliable coffee maker will eventually be overcome by limescale residue if it is not thoroughly cleaned. Traditional coffee makers are the easiest to descale but time and effort is still a part of the equation. With care, however, these machines will work effectively for years.
- Keurig and other one-cup coffee makers: Hard water is not recommended for use with one-cup coffee makers because the limescale buildup reduces the efficiency and the life of the product. In fact, filtered or bottled water are better options for these type of machines. If you use hard water in your one-cup coffee maker, be sure it is a kind developed to handle limescale deposits and follow the cleaning instructions carefully. Otherwise, your Keurig will have a short lifespan.
- Espresso machines: As with Keurig machines, espresso machines work best with bottled or filtered water. Espresso machines are highly susceptible to mineral debris and limescale, and without frequent descaling, they will grind to a halt, fast. Many coffee experts believe that hard water should not be used with espresso machines at all. Instead, a water filtration system will extend the life of your machine.
3. Which is the best coffee maker for hard water?
Because of the sensitivities of one-cup coffee makers and espresso machines, the traditional drip coffee maker is the overall best choice if you use hard water in your coffee.
Besides, drip coffee makers have come a long way, are designed more efficiently, and are easier to clean than they were ten years ago. Does that mean that espressos and Keurigs cannot be used with hard water?
Not at all, however, extra care and cleaning must accompany those machines or else you risk losing your investment in them.
The Best Coffee Maker for Hard Water - 2020 Reviews
If you use hard tap water with your coffee, you want a coffee maker that is easy to clean and descale, that will brew that flavorful cup of coffee, and that will hold up for years to come.
Here are the best coffee makers for hard water that give you your money’s worth:
1. CHULUX Single Serve Coffee Maker Brewer
The CHULUX Single Serve Coffee Maker is highly rated because it combines the one-cup coffee maker with a cleaning system capable of handling scale buildup, provided that the user cleans it every few weeks.
For coffee drinkers who enjoy k-cups but use hard water, the CHULUX might be the coffee maker for you. This model is also durable, compact, and easily portable. It also brews quickly in roughly 2 - 3 minutes and is available in a variety of colors to match your kitchen decor.
Drawbacks to the model include the holding plate being less than sturdy, and the filter not strong enough to prevent coffee grounds from falling into the coffee.
Other customer complaints focus on the need to measure the amount of water you are putting in the coffee maker. There is no see-through side on the machine, and thus it is difficult to determine how much water is in there.
2. Cuisinart DCC-1150BK Classic Thermal Programmable Coffee Maker (Our Top Recommended)
This Cuisinart coffee maker model is popular due to its double-wall insulated thermal carafe and its brew-pause function.
Even better, the DCC-1150BK has a self-cleaning function, perfect for users who add hard water to their coffee.
The charcoal filter and permanent gold tone filter work together to ensure that no sediment gets into the carafe.
The stainless steel carafe also earns high marks for keeping coffee piping hot.
At issue with the Cuisinart is the design of the water reservoir is too small and causes coffee spills.
There have been some problems with the handle of the carafe separating from the glass, the fill line on the carafe is located on the rear and is hard to see, and some users have been annoyed by the auto-timer feature.
The switch must be moved from “brew” to “auto-brew” for it to begin working.
3. Braun KF6050WH Brewsense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun’s KF6050WH Brewsense receives rave reviews because of its multi-pronged, technological approach to creating a coffee maker that delivers a great cup of coffee.
This model features multiple coffee settings, from one cup to a full pot.
It has a programmable timer and auto shutoff as well as a brew pause system so you can pour a cup of coffee during the brew cycle without causing a mess.
The Braun’s charcoal filter purifies the water in the machine, eliminating some of the mineral deposits that cause limescale.
Of particular note is the cleaning feature which can be adjusted based on water hardness levels.
Although customers agree that this Braun model serves up a steaming hot cup of coffee, there are some concerns with the “keep warm” controls on the machine malfunctioning.
Otherwise, there are complaints about the machine not varying much from cheaper drip coffee maker models.
4. HAMSWAN Drip Coffee Maker AD-103
The HAMSWAN Drip Coffee Maker is a slim, practical, and reasonably priced machine. Coffee enthusiasts like the no-nonsense aspects of this model as it has few moving parts and fewer buttons.
A winning point amongst customers is that this coffee maker does not have a reservoir, so the water put in it is the water that comes out.
It also has easily removable parts for cleaning ease. The volume output is also a plus, as it can brew 10 cups of coffee in 6 minutes.
Areas of concern are that the coffee grinds in the filter tend to overflow and get stuck underneath the lid, causing difficulty in cleaning.
There are also complaints about the pump working sporadically and the units shutting down after only a few uses.
5. Hamilton Beach (49950C) Coffee Maker
This Hamilton Beach model allows the user to brew via a full pot or single-serve, providing practical, customizable options for a coffee drinker depending on their situation.
There are separate reservoirs for each option, and the single-serve side allows for brewing into a cup or an 8-inch tall travel mug.
Some customers enjoy the program timer and the built-in storage for k-cup and small single brews. Other users are pleased with the carafe as opposed to having a hot plate.
The Hamilton Beach’s drawbacks include that the single-cup side brews slowly and the machine has a short cord.
Some customers would prefer the model to have a hot plate as the carafe does not keep the coffee hot for long.
There are also issues with the lid on the carafe which does not always open when it should, causing spills.
Which is the Best Coffee Maker for Hard Water?
The best coffee maker for hard water is the Cuisinart DCC-1150BK.
Not only this machine can be Programmable, but it is designed with a self-cleaning system that allows the model to last.
For coffee drinkers who use hard water in their machines, the longevity of their investment is a significant concern.
The Cuisinart model is equipped with a charcoal filter that purifies the water, and the cleaning feature can be adjusted to the level of water hardness that each user has.