Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood — Water chemistry and its impact on coffee flavour

All Barista Camp 'coffeetalks' - by speakers such as Scott Rao, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Rina Paguaga - were recorded by our media partner European Coffee Trip. We'll be releasing the videos of these talks over the next months so we keep fuelling discussion and building an inventory of knowledge. Don't hesitate to add your comments here, or on our Youtube channel.

For our fifth talk at Barista Camp, we brought three-time UK Barista Champion and three-time World Barista Championship finalist, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, to the stage. Beside his stellar competition record, we know Maxwell from his pioneering cafe in Bath, Colonna and Small’s. It is here where Maxwell encountered Christopher Hendon, computational chemist (and one of our favourite speakers), and their mutual interest for scientific experiment and exploration, led them to dive deeper into the subject of 'water' and how it affects coffee flavour. They co-wrote the book 'Water For Coffee' detailing what chemical compounds and reactions cause changes in flavour of the coffee, and how to learn to recognise them. Through this book, numerous talks and his competition performances, they have brought the topic to industry-wide attention, challenging baristas, judges, roasters and coffee cuppers to consider how big the influence of water actually is. From something that was previously a notion in the back of people's heads, it is now a much-discussed topic at its deserved place next to other topics that influence coffee flavour such as origin, process, roasting and brewing method.

Maxwell's talk explains the basics of water chemistry and its impact on flavour - and an extensive Q&A on what baristas or cafes can do to understand their water, what water test kits to buy, and how to and learn to recognise water's impact on flavour.

New year, new working group, new energy: with each video, we'll be adding some further reading options for you: links to other articles, blogposts or videos related to this subject (scroll down). We'd really like to encourage you all to partake and suggest links in the comment section below!

Further reading & watching