So, coffee is 90+ percent water. This in itself makes water important, but of course it gets more important than that. It has to be perfect water, equal to the perfection of the coffee it will eventually be used to extract. It has to be delicious water, equal to the deliciousness of the coffee flavor compounds it suspends and dissolves. And it has to be present and available to be sucked into a boiler of a coffee machine, where it is heated.
At coffee bars, like the ones we run at the TED conference, this means crafting the water to precise tolerances, balancing soluble materials in it to make it perfect for coffee, putting it into 5 gallon bottles, and literally carrying it to us. David Beeman of Global Customized Water does this for us, and it is a monumental and nearly invisible task. Every morning, David strips water down to its essence and builds it up again, and then hand carries it to the tent where we store it before bringing it to the bars. In other words, he’s literally lifted every ounce of water we use to brew with at least 3 times by the time it gets here. It’s a monumentally generous act, especially considering that although we call it a coffee service, it’s actually a coffee-flavored water service. The water is delicious, and it makes what we do possible. Thank you, David, for being our Aquarius.