Brewing coffee is somewhat of an art form. There are numerous gizmos and gadgets you can purchase to up your coffee game and a plethora of ways to brew the beans to make them as tasty as possible. But, because coffee is… well, coffee, the chance of it being bitter is extremely high.
Sometimes it simply can’t be helped. To reduce the likelihood that you’ll end up with a bitter cup of coffee, there is another ingredient you can add which effectively neutralises bitterness: salt. You might now be wondering why salt and not sugar? Well, salt is far better at masking bitter and unpleasant tastes compared to our sweet friend sugar.
“Salt tastes good as it is picked up by receptors on the tongue,” said Dr Clare Thornton-Wood said in an article for the Royal Society of Chemistry. “Salt blocks bitter and sour flavours, which is why it’s often added to foods to make them more palatable.”
Popping a little salt into coffee isn’t exactly a new concept but cookbook author and cooking show host, Alton Brown, has perfected the ratio of salt to coffee and water in order to make the beans sing sans bitterness.
“Not only does salt cut the bitterness of coffee, but it also smooths out the ‘stale’ taste of tank-stored water,” Brown wrote in 2015. “I’ve taken to adding a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt to every 6 tablespoons of grounds. That isn’t really enough to taste, but it’ll do the trick.”
I touched upon this on Good Eats, but I often read about my addition of salt to coffee from fans all the time. So here…
Adding a little salt to coffee that is, let’s say, on the cheaper side or made from instant coffee grounds is also said to improve the taste overall.
All you need is a tiny pinch though, so don’t go overboard when popping it in your cup otherwise you’ll be in for a salty surprise.
When consumed in moderate amounts, salt acts as an important electrolyte in your body and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function, says Healthline.
But, if you have a pre-existing health condition like high blood pressure, you should probably skip the salt in your coffee altogether.