Angel tears not required

We love what we do…We also love that people trust us sufficiently to seek a second opinion.

Today’s tech. moment goes like this:

A guy arrived with a couple of bottles of water and asked for some advice.

He’s the proud owner of a pretty expensive and impressive espresso machine produced in Europe and sadly, there have been some issues with it (we presume during the warranty period). The machine at times was refusing to heat so he returned it to the supplier for the usual checks. Appears that the problem may have been an intermittent one- a water sense issue. Whilst we have never experienced this with filtered water in any examples of this machine we have sold, our visitor appears to have one which has low sensitivity of its water probes. It needs plenty of dissolved solids to see the water.

When the supplier tested the machine, the owner was asked about his water and the response was something along the line of:  “I live in a good water area, so I am just using a Brita jug and changing the filters as recommended.”

Supplier: “Now there’s ya problem mate. You see these machines need to be run on a particular brand of Angel Tears (at $2+ per litre) and if you don’t use that, yer gonna have issues for sure.”

We examined the details of the Angel Tears and tested his tap water and and also his Brita jug water. The results for hardness were close enough to identical for all, but the big difference was that the concentration of Total Dissolved Solids in the Angel Tears was near enough to double that of his tap or filtered water.

On extraction of a little of a long completed degree which included a whole heap of water chemistry from the grey matter, the conclusion was that the key contributing difference between the Angel Tears and the Filtered water was a higher concentration of carbonates.  Sodium Bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking or carb. soda) acts as a buffer by encouraging the pH of the water to move towards 7 (neutral) whilst also bumping Carbonate levels in the water.

We suggested to the owner that he’d most likely solve his problem by adding a little carb soda to his water and by doing that, he’d save about $2+ per litre on his espresso water.

While filtration is important and owners need to educate themselves so as to choose an appropriate solution for their particular circumstances, we’re dubious that $2+/litre imported water will really benefit anything much other than the cosy relationship between the espresso machine manufacturer and the producer of said Angel Tears. Baking soda is really cheap and a little math will provide an appropriate dose. We’re still pondering as to why there would be such variation in the behaviour of different examples of the same machine. Go figure…

As always, caveat emptor!

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