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How to use Third Wave Water with Leaderboard

April 19, 2022 4 min read 1 Comment

Time to Play the Game!

Welcome to season 6!! Water is an important component in a making a great cup of coffee and an even more important component if you want to win Leaderboard! Welcome to the next update in the series of the Leaderboard coffee game where you are now provided two (2) water profiles. Why two water profiles? To help you win of course! 

Both water profiles provided meet the SCA (specialty coffee association) water standards. The older SCAA standard is the Classic Profile which uses a touch of sodium chloride (table salt) whereas the Espresso Profile meets the most recent SCA water standard not using any chlorides, which is very important for your espresso machine. Side Note: Never ever use chlorides in your espresso machine or be prepared to change your boiler early since chlorides cause corrosion. Ok, so both water profile meet the SCA water standards, what now?

The Espresso Profile was originally engineered to protect espresso machines, but that’s not what we are going to focus on. This water profile is preferred by many of Third Wave Water’s partners (like Cup of Excellence) for their cupping protocols. The reason is that it has double the buffer (aka alkalinity) of the Classic Profile and no sodium chloride. This helps create a more balanced flavor profile of the coffee removing the enhanced flavors from salt and a lowered acidity to allow a more balanced flavor profile.

The Classic Profile provides a larger range to hit the sweet spot in coffee; those brighter, more acidic, floral and berry flavors.

So here’s the secret with these two water profiles: if you cup a coffee using both water profiles you should be able to discern more flavor notes of a coffee and therefore help you more accurately discover it’s true origin per the game.

Depending on the size of your table and how many kettles you have available you might be able to cup at least 2-4 coffees at a time. Contrast and comparison is your friend. Being able to compare flavors of multiple coffees at a time will help you identify the most obvious flavors present and/or missing in each coffee. Looking at the beans themselves unveil many of their secrets too, but that's another topic. Let's start with the basics of how to create your Third Wave Water.

How to make Third Wave Water:

  1. Add one (1) packet of Third Wave Water minerals to one (1) gallon of distilled water.
  2. Shake until the minerals are dissolved.
  3. Then add to your kettle to heat for cupping.

NOTE: If you cannot find distilled water then use Reverse Osmosis water, Deionized water or water from a Zero Water filter. When in doubt, use a TDS (total dissolvable solids) meter to measure each water source and make sure that the total TDS is less than 10 TDS.


Two Methods to Play with Two Water Profiles:

  • Method 1: Cup each coffee with both waters simultaneously
  • Method 2: Cup each coffee with the Espresso Profile 

    Method 1: Both Water Profiles

    We recommend cupping at least 2-4 coffees at a time (if not all of the coffee simultaneously). 

    1. Mix the Espresso Profile in a one (1) gallon jug and mix the Classic Profile in a separate one (1) gallon jug.
    2. Place the coffees in the middle of the table with the cups on either side of each coffee. Add the Espresso Profile water to the cups on one side, and add the Classic Profile to the cups on the other side.
    3. After each coffee is filled with water and the crust is broken, start cupping on the Espresso Profile side of each coffee and write down your initial notes.
    4. Then cup each coffee on the Espresso Profile again, but this time taste the Classic Profile cup to help discover new, brighter notes to help dial in each coffee’s origin.


    Method 2: Espresso Profile or Classic Profile Only

    We recommend cupping at least 2-4 coffees at a time (if not all of the coffee simultaneously). The Classic Profile was used in the previous seasons of Leaderboard,  but the Espresso Profile is preferred by many of our professional cupping partners.

    1. Mix the Espresso Profile (or Classic) in a one (1) gallon jug.
    2. Use this water profile to cup all of your coffees.


    We recommend using Method 1 in order to discern a balanced water profile versus the typically brighter profile to help win the game, but feel free to choose which method you prefer. There are more methods to cup the coffees for this game using these two water profiles as the recent World Aeropress Championship (WAC) demonstrated, by mixing these 2 profiles creating up to 16 distinct different profiles to help their coffees taste their best. Our goal is not to lead you on a rabbit trail too far off the path so use their methods at your own risk since you only have 60 grams of coffee in each bag to cup: ~7 cuppings of each coffee (with 8.25 grams per cupping to 150 ml of water).

    Here’s to another season in this amazing game, let the cuppings begin!

    - Charles Nick [co-founder of Third Wave Water]



    1 Response


    January 23, 2023

    I am trying to find the Espresso Profile Dilution Chart


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