Is Starbucks Water Filtered? (According to a Company Rep)

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Starbucks has millions of fans worldwide, and you might be wondering about the secrets behind the company’s success. What makes Starbucks coffee taste so good? Does it have anything to do with the way that Starbucks water is filtered?

Here, we’ve answered the question, “Is Starbucks water filtered?”, with evidence from Starbucks customer service themselves.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Yes, Starbucks water is filtered to remove several different contaminants and improve its taste and quality.
  • Different Starbucks store locations may use different water treatments, including carbon filtration, ultrafiltration, softening, and the reverse osmosis process.
  • You can make your water taste like Starbucks water at home by using a point-of-use water filter system.

🤔 Does Starbucks Filter Its Water?

Yes, Starbucks filters its water.

According to anecdotal evidence from Starbucks employees, the company uses a reverse osmosis system to triple-filter its water.

We’ve read articles from former Starbucks employees, as well as comments from Starbucks baristas on forums like this Reddit forum, which confirm that most (if not all) Starbucks locations filter their water.

Reddit conversation about how many times Starbucks water filtered

We couldn’t find any official word from Starbucks online on whether or not its water is treated, and how the water is treated.

So, we reached out to Starbucks customer service, and after a few unsuccessful attempts, received this response:

Starbucks water filtration conversation with customer support

This confirms that all Starbucks locations filter their water with some form of water filter system. The customer service rep also mentions that Starbucks specifically filters its water to be in compliance with NSF standards for lead reduction. It’s not clear whether these are just two examples of the contaminants that Starbucks aims to remove, or the only two that the company focuses on in its water products.

We can also see from this response that Starbucks may use treatments aside from a reverse osmosis filtration system to remove contaminants and improve water quality.

Other possible treatment methods include activated carbon filters, water softeners, and ultrafiltration.

🔎 Why Is Starbucks Water Filtered?

Starbucks water, like the water used in many other coffee shops, is filtered to improve the taste and quality of the coffees that are sold by the company.

Filtered water is free from poor-tasting contaminants, like chlorine. Without the distracting and unwanted tastes from the water source, the coffee’s natural flavors and nuances become more pronounced, providing a smoother and more enjoyable taste.

Filtering tap water also removes the chlorine aroma, helping the subtle, delicate aromas of the different coffee blends to shine through.

There are a few benefits of filtering water for baristas, too. Filtered water has a balanced pH and shouldn’t corrode or leave scale deposits in coffee makers and espresso machines. This ensures long-lasting appliances and reduces maintenance and servicing, which helps the company to save money in the long run.

Plus, filtering tap water on-site is cheaper and more eco-friendly than ordering high volumes of filtered bottled water to be used for coffee-making purposes.

🚰 Which Water Filtration System Does Starbucks Use?

The majority of sources we came across online said that Starbucks uses a reverse osmosis system to produce “triple-filtered reverse osmosis water”.

A reverse osmosis system purifies water by sending it through several filtration stages, including a sediment filter, a carbon filter, and a reverse osmosis membrane. This comprehensive filtration process eliminates virtually all total dissolved solids, effectively purifying water.

However, we know from our chat with a Starbucks customer service rep that the company also uses non-RO treatment systems at some of its locations. We think in the locations that do have a reverse osmosis system, it’s likely that the company uses some form of remineralization filter downstream of its RO systems. We say this because there are several issues with using RO water for coffee:

  • RO water is “hungry” due to its complete lack of impurities and may leach metals and cause corrosion inside coffee and espresso machines.
  • RO water has a flat taste that may affect the taste of coffee.

Since so many people – including thousands of self-confessed coffee snobs – swear by Starbucks coffee as the best you can get, we’re not sure that Starbucks water is ever fully purified RO water, since this can often give water a less appealing taste.

We would say that it’s more likely for Starbucks to use a comprehensive multi-stage filtration system to remove contaminants affecting water taste, water, and quality, without removing the healthy minerals that enhance the taste of its coffee.

The three-stage filtration system Starbucks uses in many store locations might well be a reverse osmosis system, but it could also be a series of water filters that simply improve water quality. It seems to depend on the quality of the water that’s being treated.

Some stores may not use a water filter at all but might use a water softener. Water softeners remove hardness minerals, which cause limescale and shorten the lifespan of coffee machines, but they don’t improve the safety of water.

How reverse osmosis filtration works
How the Reverse Osmosis Process Works

🧐 Do All Starbucks Locations Filter Their Water?

Yes, according to our response from Starbucks customer support, all Starbucks locations use water filters in some form.

In the forum we referenced earlier, there was a discussion between a store supervisor and several other commentators in which the supervisor said that the filtration system in any given store “depends on their local water and pipes“.

So, this supports what we know, suggesting that not all stores use reverse osmosis filtration.

😋 Why Does Starbucks Water Taste So Good?

The reason why many people enjoy the taste of Starbucks water is most likely that the company uses a three-stage filtration system to remove contaminants that affect water taste, like chlorine.

Removing these impurities helps you to focus on the water’s taste-enhancing elements, which are no longer smothered by stronger unpleasant tastes.

Coffee water tastes great at many Starbucks locations because it has been triple-filtered, so it brings out the pleasant coffee tastes and aromas without any distracting chlorine tastes.

However, you’ll probably find that your Starbucks water tastes slightly different in one location than in the next. That’s because Starbucks uses several different methods of filtering or purifying drinking water, depending on the water source at the location. So, water might be more thoroughly filtered at one location than at another.

Starbucks coffee

📥 Is Starbucks Free Water Filtered?

We couldn’t find any evidence to say for certain that Starbucks free water (aka the tap water you can request for free) is filtered.

We’d say that the most likely answer to this is “yes”, although it depends on which faucet the drinking water is taken from.

For instance, if a Starbucks location uses a water filter that’s hooked up to a single dedicated faucet, if an employee uses any other faucet to fill your cup, you’ll just receive normal tap water – not water that has been filtered.

If you’re curious about your local Starbucks water, why not ask the employees? They might not know themselves, but someone might be able to give you a knowledgeable answer.

🚿 How To Produce Starbucks Water At Home

Want to achieve the same quality water as Starbucks water to use when making coffee at home? Easy: just install a water filtration system.

The type of filtration system you buy depends on what you want to remove from your water.

If you’re looking for an entry-level filter that can remove hundreds of contaminants, including those affecting taste (like chlorine), we recommend a water filter pitcher like the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher.

Or, if you want to take your water filtration to the next level, install a reverse osmosis (RO) unit with a remineralizing post-filter. Reverse osmosis systems purify water by treating it with a sediment filter, several carbon filter stages, and a semi-permeable membrane. A remineralizing post-filter will enhance your water’s taste with added minerals (which are removed during the RO purification process).

You can also install a water softener to prevent limescale damage in your coffee machine, but be warned – some coffee experts say that coffee actually tastes better with hard water because the hardness minerals bring out the coffee flavors.

Cloud RO base with new filters installed

📑 Final Word

There are a lot of blog articles that say for certain that Starbucks water is filtered – and this anecdotal evidence has been confirmed by our discussion with Starbucks customer service (even if the company has never shared an official statement on its website).

So, you’re almost 100% guaranteed to enjoy coffee made from filtered water at any Starbucks location. If you want to be certain, try asking the employees at your local Starbucks. They probably will have noticed a water filter system of some form, so they can at least tell you whether or not their water is filtered, even if they don’t know how.

❔ FAQ

Does Starbucks use tap water or filtered water?

Starbucks uses tap water that has been filtered – so technically, it’s both tap water and filtered water. This makes more sense from economic and sustainability perspectives because the water can be filtered on-site, saving the costs and plastic waste associated with ordering in bottled filtered water.

What brand is Starbucks water?

Starbucks water isn’t branded – it’s tap water that has been filtered with a water filtration system. So, you can’t buy the water that’s used in Starbucks beverages, but you can achieve the same quality of water at home with your own water filtration system. Different types of water filters remove different contaminants. We recommend a carbon filter to remove chlorine taste and odor, which can ruin the taste of a good cup of coffee.

Is water still free at Starbucks?

Yes, in most Starbucks locations, free tap water is still available. However, some Starbucks stores have been reported to charge a cup fee for their “free” water, so it’s a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle and ask for that to be refilled instead.

Is Starbucks water triple-filtered?

There’s no evidence that Starbucks water is always triple-filtered reverse osmosis water, as many sources claim online. However, Starbucks customer support has said that many of the company’s stores use at least one water treatment process, whether that’s reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, softening, or carbon filtration, to ensure compliance with NSF/ANSI Standards. So, that doesn’t guarantee a triple-filtration process, but it does at least guarantee some form of filtering.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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