Coffee is simply water and the soluble elements of the coffee that dissolve in water. Therefore, the quality of the water that goes into the coffee maker to brew coffee directly impacts the quality of your coffee.
Some of the elements in water can also affect the structural integrity of the coffee maker parts that come into contact with the water.
Any impurities, odors, and dissolved solids in the water will end up in your cup of coffee. The dissolved chemicals in water can also alter how the water draws the coffee solubles during the extraction.
This page discusses how water can potentially lower the quality of your coffee and the lifespan of your coffee maker. We also look at how charcoal filters mitigate the undesirable elements in water and whether you can disregard them.
Finally, we show you how to change the charcoal filter of your Cuisinart coffee maker.
Can I use my Cuisinart coffee maker without the charcoal filter?
Yes, you can use a Cuisinart coffee maker without the charcoal filter if you are using filtered or bottled water in the brewer. For unfiltered water, using a charcoal filter safeguards the lifespan of the brewer and removes chlorine residues and other undesirable tastes and odors in water.
Bear in mind that using a Cuisinart coffee maker without the charcoal filter may affect the validity of your warranty in the case of damaged inner parts of the brewer owing to chlorine issues.
For example, the chlorine in unfiltered water may degrade the water lines and affect the performance of the water pump and the heating element.
Tap Water Problems When Making Coffee
A major problem with tap water is its chlorine content. City water is chlorinated to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The water can retain chlorine residues and develop a bitter bleach-like taste and smell.
Moreover, a study has found that the chlorine residues in tap water can degrade plastics and metals and also alter the chemical structure and chemical composition of plastic and metal surfaces respectively. The microplastics and metallic substances from the degradation process pose a health risk as we may end up drinking them.
Drip coffee makers, including Cuisinarts, are made of plastic and metallic materials that can be degraded by the chlorine residues in tap water.
Water filtration and softening systems aim to filter the contaminants, soften the hardness, and make the water safe for drinking.
Drip coffee makers use a charcoal water filter that is installed inside the water tank to remove the impurities, odors, and bad tastes.
What is a Charcoal Water Filter?
A charcoal filter, a carbon filter, is a barrier that traps the contaminants in drinking water. The charcoal filter removes the by-products of water treatment – chlorine and chloramine residues – in water by binding the contaminants to its surface without affecting the minerals salts that are present in water.
The pores of the filter act as parking spaces for impurities while the filter acts like a sponge and sucks bad odors and tastes from the water.
The charcoal filter in your coffee maker does not reduce water hardness as it does not remove minerals such as calcium. Cuisinart coffee makers should be descaled every 2-6 months to maintain the high performance and efficiency of their internal parts.
The K&J 12-Pack Charcoal filter is a replacement filter that is compatible with all Cuisinart coffee makers. The pack of 12 is good value for the dollar and can last up to two years when the filter is changed every two months. See how to install it in your coffee maker.
Do I Need a Charcoal Filter for my Coffee Maker?
If the water you are using to brew coffee is not filtered, you should use a charcoal filter to remove chlorine residues to prevent chlorine’s corroding effects on the internal parts of the coffee maker.
This can save you from hefty repair costs or having to discard the brewer. Your coffee will also taste better as the filter removes the off-flavors from the water.
How Often Do You Change the Water Filter in a Coffee Maker?
You should change the water filter in a coffee maker every two months or after every 60 brew cycles, The charcoal filter traps contaminants and odors on its surface and in its pores. These contaminants build up on the charcoal filter over time.
Changing the water filter in a coffee maker regularly can prolong the life of the coffee maker. You are also better off changing the charcoal filter every time you descale the coffee maker for a thorough and fresher finish.
Where Does the Water Filter Go in a Cuisinart Coffee Maker?
The water filter in a Cuisinart coffee maker is located in a filter holder in the water tank. Open the water tank and remove the plastic filter holder. At the bottom of the holder, is a pocket where the charcoal filter goes.
How To Change the Charcoal Filter in a Cuisinart Coffee Maker
Materials: Freshwater, a bowl, a sponge, dishwashing soap
- Soaking. Remove the new charcoal filter from its packaging and soak it in a bowl of fresh water for 15 minutes. Soaking removes any loose carbon particles and cleans the filter
- Remove the filter holder from the water tank. Open the water tank and remove the filter holder
- Remove the old filter from the holder. Press down on the pocket at the bottom of the filter holder to open it. Remove and discard the old charcoal filter
- Clean the filter holder with soapy water and rinse it
- Insert the new charcoal filter into the pocket and close the pocket. You should hear a snapping sound.
- Rinse the filter holder with the inserted filter under tap water for 10 seconds
- Install the filter holder back into the water tank
- Cover the water tank
Are Charcoal Coffee Filters Safe?
A charcoal water filter is perfectly safe to use in your coffee maker. However, the filter requires regular replacement due to the buildup of trapped impurities over time. A study has shown that charcoal water filters can harbor bacteria when not replaced regularly.
When buying a charcoal filter for your coffee maker or for your home go for a filter that is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) as capable of reducing chlorine, taste, and odor.
What is Water Hardness and How Does it Affect Your Coffee Maker?
Water hardness is the presence of dissolved calcium and magnesium compounds in water. When hard water is heated, like in a Cuisinart coffee maker, it forms calcium carbonate solids or scales that buildup inside the coffee maker as you brew more and more with the hard water.
Gradually, the coffee starts tasting like metal and if the coffee maker is not descaled, it can develop clogging problems. Worst case scenario, molds can start growing on the scales.
The Bottom Line
You do not need to use a charcoal water filter in a coffee maker when you have an efficient water filter system for your drinking water or you are using bottled water.
If you are using unfiltered water, you should use a charcoal water filter in the coffee maker as it removes chlorine, odors, and tastes from the water, and prolongs the life span of the coffee maker.
The charcoal filter, however, does not remove minerals from the water hence the reason that coffee makers need to be descaled from time to time. The charcoal water filter in a coffee maker should be replaced every 60 days or after every 60 brew cycles. Look for NSF-certified charcoal filters when buying replacement filters.