It’s no secret that people are looking for new ways to spice up everyday products these days. Most of the time it’s for potential health benefits but some people just like to experiment in the search for improved experiences. With this in mind, is it possible that salt in coffee could have some worthwhile benefits?
The first thing we need to establish is why someone would even want to add salt to their coffee. Interestingly, this isn’t something that’s done in the name of health.
Why Do People Put Salt in Coffee?
As it turns out, people have been putting salt in coffee as a way to improve the flavour.
However, it’s not just a case of throwing salt into any coffee. Instead, salt is used to reduce the bitterness of certain coffees.
What Makes Coffee Bitter?
Everyone is different. Something that tastes bitter to one person may be absolutely fine for someone else.
With that being said, there are a few obvious reasons for coffee tasting bitter:
- You’re working with a darker roast than usual. There are a wide variety of roasts from blonde to dark and each has a different flavour profile. Darker roasts tend to contain prominent, aromatic flavours.
- Your coffee is stale. As your opened coffee ages, the flavour profile can change for the worse. This may also include more prominent bitter notes coming to the surface.
- Your coffee has been brewed incorrectly. Allowing your coffee to over-brew, steep for too long, or using water that’s too hot can change the way it tastes. Unwashed equipment, poor quality coffee beans, and different kinds of grinds may also play a role in flavour.
How Does Salt Stop Bitterness?
This is the part that could get a bit sciency but let’s keep it as simple as possible.
When you add salt to coffee, you’re not doing so to change the taste of the drink itself. Instead, when salt hits the tongue, it changes the way that your tastebuds perceive the flavours of the coffee.
In this example, the salt tricks your brain and masks the bitter taste that may otherwise be present.
How to Add Salt to Coffee?
If you’re planning to try this then it’s probably a good idea to have a plan of action. If you’re just going to add a load of salt to your coffee then it’s unlikely to be a pleasant experience.
Recommendations vary but the general consensus is that you should add around 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt to each 6 tablespoons of ground coffee.
Adding the salt to the coffee grounds before brewing seems to be the best way. You could add it after and, although it might reduce bitterness, you’re more likely to be able to taste the salt in your coffee this way.
What Are the Alternatives?
Adding salt to coffee is all well and good if that’s the route you want to take. However, it does seem to be the solution to a problem that doesn’t need to exist.
There are plenty of ways to reduce the bitterness in your coffee without having to add extra ingredients:
- Try a different roast. By lowering the roast in your cup, you’ll reduce the potential for strong flavours that don’t suit your preferences.
- Buy higher quality coffee beans. This way, you know you’re going to get a better flavour profile.
- Avoid stale coffee beans. Old beans can develop unwanted flavour profiles.
- Brew correctly. Filtered water can help but, more importantly, don’t use water that’s too hot.
- Check that your equipment is clean before use and working correctly.