New Cirqua AB Formulator System

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New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby Matt Milletto on Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:23 pm

Rod,

Aaron just finished installing the new Cirqua formulator system at the ABC school ... truly the Synesso of water filtration systems, allowing the operator to set the ppm exact, with manometer gauges, etc. Anyone in Portland can come check it out ... we have it set right now at 150 ppm and it seems easy to do taste tests a lower or higher levels. Very cool system.

- Matt
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Re: New Cirqua Formulator System

Postby Alistair Durie on Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:45 pm

Being in Vancouver we have very soft water, as low as 10-20ppm. The only way to boost this a little so far has been a simple calcite cartridge that results in water at about 30-40ppm. Cirqua have been testing their new system for a while and it sounds like it is coming to market soon. With the new features as Matt described, it sounds great for those of us in the soft water land of the Pacific Northwest.

Look forward to hearing more details, feedback and taste testing.
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Re: New Cirqua Formulator System

Postby Matt Milletto on Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:33 pm

Thanks for making this it's own thread ... I am teaching a 6 day class next week and will try to report more on the new system ... Aaron, and another rep from Cirqua are coming in as well to explain the system so I hope to have a more comprehensive understanding of it in a few days. Since we installed it I can say that our espresso (from 12 roasters) has been exceptional, and I have noticed some differences.

- Matt
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby jdavidwaldman on Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:42 am

We have one of the first (I believe possibly the first commercial install for high volume) in our cafe/roastery; this is an upgrade from the earlier formulator we have had since May 2006. The new rig has been in place for 7-8 weeks with troublefree operation. We set the TDS at 150 PPM (per Cirqua's recommendation) and forget about it. It's a treat to be able to monitor TDS in real time; in the past, we would take system samples for analysis by our Myron L, and if you didn't stay on top of it, it could wander all over the place based on a variety of "moving pieces". This setup stays dead on -- IMHO, our bevs taste amazing! [We run four separate types of water in our shop: (1) city water for hand sinks, dipperwells, and general use, (2) softened water for the dishwasher, (3) RO water for my lab experiments, and (4) Cirqua formulated water for our Synesso, Fetco, HW Dispenser, and cold water drinking taps (one in lab and one behind bar).] I give major credit to Cirqua for rigorously testing the nextgen rig before putting it out there in the public venue. Water is everything. A fog has lifted in our cupping sessions. Among the potential bottlenecks for achieving a great beverage (grind, water temp, system pressure, water composition), your bevs will NEVER be all they can be without proper water composition. Interestingly, I have recently installed a mirror setup to ours (Synesso, Fetco, HW Dispensers, etc.) in one of our nearby wholesale accounts (without proper water, albeit filtered for turbidity, and dechlorinated, with 8 grains hardness), and I am astouded at the taste difference. I do not recognize my own beans! Please contact me directly with any questions.
... but how does it taste?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby manderson on Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:13 pm

I would like to introduce myself and insure everyone knows who is posting;

I’m Michael Anderson the Director of Research and Development for Cirqua Customized Water, and my team has been working on the development of the new AB Formulator for the past 2 years. We are currently field testing units as you can see from some of the previous posts. Our interest in posting is only to educate and inform, so please feel free to bust me if I step over the line.

As many of you may know Cirqua has been supplying Formulated Water™ at trade shows and coffee events for years, as it’s one of our founders’ personal missions (thank you David Beeman). Cirqua has been experimenting with water formulation for years and we have learned a lot (sometimes the hard way), but we didn’t give up.

Cirqua has been field testing our new AB Formulator since late 2007 and so far the results are very encouraging. We have just completed an accelerated steam boiler test (formulated water in, steam valve open, no water removed to concentrate the minerals in the boiler) working with the good folks at Synesso, and the preliminary results were impressive. There is virtually no scale build-up or corrosion inside the boilers (we tested both passivated and non-passivated boilers) after 500 hours of operation. By the end of the test the TDS and Hardness levels were extreme; >5000ppm TDS and >250 grains hardness, so the conditions were similar to boiler that was never blown down. In short we are gaining confidence that we now have a very safe way to allow coffee professionals to adjust their TDS levels to what they feel best compliments their beans, roast, and brewing method; while protecting their equipment.

I’m happy to answer any questions.
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby xristrettox on Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:37 pm

can i buy one?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby andynewbom on Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:49 pm

when will info etc be on your site?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby David LaMont on Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:15 pm

We've been running the system in our Training Center (Thanks Skip!) for a couple months now and love it. Atlanta suffers from low-tds water which is usually around 60ppm, but due to the recent droughts has raised to about 90ppm. The formulator holds steady during high-use periods between about 148 and 154, a great range for our coffee. Other local coffee folks and I have previously theorized that our aggressive water has been cause for much over-extraction, but the Formulator has given a way to verify those ideas. I still have 3 options for municipal water (Formulator-ed, filtered, and "straight tap") and it makes for some interesting comparisons. Cupping has revealed the greatest effects and is easy to conduct on the fly. I've got a line set up where I can draw water directly off the Formulator for cuppings (and drinking--I love it), another line run to a Fetco 2032, another line to a 3 group Linea and the last line to a 3 group FB80. So far the Formulator has had no problems keeping up with pressure supply or TDS-maintenance.

To be completely honest, I haven't yet been able to assemble some friends and give the time and attention needed to thoroughly explore TDS on the espresso machines. Obviously, draining and refilling machines, taste-testing shots, making notes and re-adjusting TDS (the really easy part) takes some serious work. All I can report is that our espresso is tasting great and I can rest assured that local changes in water quality, heavy rains, busted pipes, or other events won't be the cause of off-tasting espresso at the CCCATLTC. One factor isolated, a lot more to go...
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby bz on Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:07 pm

what's the cost going to be?

i've never ceased to be surprised at the usage of regular tap water by well-known, quality-conscious cafes -- despite all the endless flogging of water quality as crucial. i can only guess that cost is a factor.

home hacks like myself simply use hyper-hard bottled water (evian, for example) to modify the super-soft water here in s.c. this is not a typo: our tap water hardness is 7 ppm.

obviously, even that ghetto remedy gets expensive. so i'm dying to see an affordable solution -- first and foremost for commercial places, of course. but even for myself.

alistair: can you get those calcite tablets in any stronger formulations?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby Ryan Willbur on Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:36 am

Where else are these guys being tested? Any high volume shops? Anywhere closer to LA, where our water is piped in from a different city every other day...
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby phaelon56 on Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:28 am

I just returned from the Northeast Roasters group annual weekend retreat. Skip Finlay of Cirqua did a class on water quality and it may well be one of the most informative hours I have ever spent in coffee education. I'll keep it simple by stating that there's more to it than just the TDS and I previously had no idea that coffee chemistry acted in such specific ways with water composition (yes I knew that TDS levels and total hardness mattered but the composition within those numbers is crucial).

He set up a blind cupping for us where we tried the exact same coffee brewed with three different water types. The differences were very noticeable and the majority of the group (at least 80%) favored the formulated water that hit the 15o ppm average.

I have recently installed a mirror setup to ours (Synesso, Fetco, HW Dispensers, etc.) in one of our nearby wholesale accounts (without proper water, albeit filtered for turbidity, and dechlorinated, with 8 grains hardness),


If I recall the info from this past weekend correctly the suggested hardness is no more than 5 grains. Is that correct?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby jdavidwaldman on Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:31 pm

Responding to the above captioned quote, I will try to clarify --I was comparing our "successful" AB Formulator install in our roastery/cafe in NJ (maintained realtime @150PPM), to one of our client's cafes without any water treatment other than w/r/t turbidity - so, he has great gear (Synesso, Fetco, etc.), but crappy water (>8 grains and 415 PPM TDS), and my espresso, which I think tastes great @ my cafe, tastes horrible in his system. (I would like to give CIRQUA an idea of our daily water volume in gallons, but not sure how to calculate it with any degree of accuracy.)
... but how does it taste?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby phaelon56 on Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:03 pm

My apologies - I didn't read carefully enough. But as you've now clarified - the difference is remarkable - isn't it? The formula Skip tossed out for calculating daily daily usage was 5 to 6 oz x the number of shots produced per day for espresso machine water usage. It's a very rough metric but should hold up well enough for estimating purposes. If you use a fair amount of boiler water for Americano's or tea (not recommending it but many people do just that) then add an appropriate amount. It should be fairly easy to guesstimate the number of airpots produced each day for drip and/or for hot water towers. The other factor - for some systems - is flow rate - not all filter cartridges or systems can handle situations that are very high volume in a short period of time. But the holding tanks on some of these new Cirqua units are substantial - I think the big one is 12 gallons. Even half that amount of filtered water in reserve would get most busy shops through a big rush.
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby manderson on Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:40 am

Michael Anderson – Director or R&D for Cirqua, sorry about the delay in responding to several questions from by post on Aug 11, I’m new to this type of forum.

Cirqua is in the process of setting the release date, price and updating the website for the A-B Formulator™ as this is being written. Please contact sales@Cirqua.com for more information.

There are currently eight A-B Formulators in use at test sites around the country and we are in the process of getting permission from those involved so we can post their contact information.

Regarding calcite to raise the mineral concentration of low TDS water, our Chemist, Phil Wagner says “…it is mostly based on the pH and the amount of available carbon dioxide (CO2). This process is difficult to control and can vary from season to season based on the water temperature and the solubility of CO2 at that temperature in water. If the pH goes up then there is less calcite dissolved and if the pH goes down then there is more calcium bicarbonate based on free available carbon dioxide or carbonic acid.”

If you would like the detailed chemistry of the above I’m happy to post it.

Michael Anderson - Director of R&D, Cirqua Customized Water
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby bz on Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:43 pm

i can't be only geek who would love to see the detailed chemistry, eh?

please post! it's a classic coffeed opportunity if i ever saw one.

i'm aware calcite has its shortcomings, but when your water is so consistently soft it washes dishes, then even irregular, ph-dependent mineralization is an improvement, taste-wise.
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby phaelon56 on Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:25 am

Skip Finley of Cirqa was kind enough to send me an email after he saw this thread - just to ensure that I had accurate numbers - they are as follows:

The maximum level of hardness should be no more than 5 grains (85 ppm) any higher you risk equipment issues. There are a few other parameters like alkalinity (temporary hardness) that come into play when higher than 80 ppm in combination with high hardness. The water standard that we recommend is below.



TDS 150ppm (100-200)

Hardness 5 grains (3-5)

Alch 40 ppm (40-80)

PH 7 ph (6-8)

No chlorine, no iron ,no odors ,clear in color


Time for me to get my water tested....
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby bz on Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:24 pm

indeed, the one benefit of having such soft water is that there's never scale in the boiler. no elaborate descaling rituals necessary.

as such, it's my understanding (i'm no guru) that if you're one who needs to harden his tap water, it's still helpful to run a boiler full of soft water every now and then to dissolve any internal scale buildup, thus also saving the pain of descaling routines. this works for me.

my understanding has also been that if you run much more hard than 90 ppm you get severe and rapid scaling issues. skip's note seems to support this notion, which is a relief. i was starting to wonder if 150 should be my target.

has anyone tried "ghetto" ways of targeting the right TDS and ph?
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby Jason Haeger on Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:15 pm

bz wrote:i can't be only geek who would love to see the detailed chemistry, eh?

please post! it's a classic coffeed opportunity if i ever saw one.

i'm aware calcite has its shortcomings, but when your water is so consistently soft it washes dishes, then even irregular, ph-dependent mineralization is an improvement, taste-wise.

Heavens no! I kept reading and was sad to see the details non-present.

Please do post the details if the offer stands.
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby manderson on Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:08 pm

The challenge with using calcite to increase TDS and Hardness is that its effectiveness is completely dependent on the chemistry of the water you are treating, so there is no simple answer. This is one of the main reasons we (Cirqua) developed the AB Formulator™, the other benefit is that is if you start with RO water and then add an AB Formulator you will have no scaling issues, ever! Proper water chemistry eliminates scaling even in “dead headed” steam boilers where the TDS and hardness can be so high it’s difficult to measure.

This is the detail on the calcite question (from Ben) from Phil Wagner, our Chemist here at Cirqua.

Regarding calcite to raise the mineral concentration of a low TDS water, It is mostly based on the pH and the amount of available carbon dioxide (CO2.) Calcite, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), is moderately soluble in a very weak acid solution of carbonic acid (carbon dioxide in water = H2CO3). The solubility of Calcite depends on several things: 1) Mineral acidity, 2) amount of CO2 in relation to bicarbonate (HCO3-) and 3) how this affects the pH. Mineral acidity minimally influences the solubility of Calcite in natural conditions because there is very little to start with. Calcite has a very limited solubility in water just due to its solubility constant and independent of anything else (14 mg/L as mineral or less than one grain hardness). Converting the Calcite to calcium bicarbonate requires free carbon dioxide. Up to a point, calcium carbonate will be dissolved by the carbonic acid in the water. The lower the concentration of free CO2, the less calcium carbonate that is converted to calcium bicarbonate (Ca(HCO3)2). If the water is fairly close to equilibrium between the bicarbonate and carbon dioxide, then the less calcite is dissolved and the longer the contact time is required to convert it to calcium bicarbonate. Bicarbonate contributes to the alkalinity of the water and is a buffer to acidity. The more bicarbonate, the more the solution is buffered against an acid.

This process is difficult to control and can vary from season to season based on the temperature and the solubility of CO2 at that temperature in water. If the pH goes up then there is less calcite dissolved. If the pH goes down then there is more calcium bicarbonate based on free available carbon dioxide or carbonic acid.

Michael Anderson – Director of R&D – Cirqua Customized Water
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby bz on Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:37 pm

fascinating. thank you.
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Re: New Cirqua AB Formulator System

Postby manderson on Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:31 pm

Cirqua introduces the AB Formulator at Coffee Fest Seattle – Friday 9/12/08

We are introducing the AB Formulator to the public today at Coffee Fest! This is a very exciting event for all of us here at Cirqua and we look forward to answering all your questions about this exciting new technology.

Michael Anderson – Director of R&D – Cirqua Customized Water
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