Does putting salt in coffee make it less bitter?

by Dan
(Albany, GA)

A pinch of salt in your coffee before brewing.

A pinch of salt in your coffee before brewing.


A friend of mine swears by this. He puts a little salt in his coffee while brewing and says it makes the coffee more mellow and smoother.

I tried it myself, but it just made the coffee taste really salty and disgusting.

Is my friend nuts, or am I doing something wrong?




Great question.

In answer to the broader question, it seems that salt does cut back on the bitterness and acidity in coffee. But it doesn’t impact the sweetness of the brew.

So this can be a great idea if you prefer to drink a sweet, mellow brew, but can’t find a coffee that gives you that taste profile without too much bitterness or acidity.

As for why your experiment with salt led to a disgusting, salty pot of coffee, it’s probably because you used too much salt. The secret, it seems, is that less is more.

Anyway, I decided to experiment with this. Kind of scary, because I hate to waste an entire pot of coffee.

First, I chose a strong, dark roast coffee that is bold and sweet, but has a definite bitterness in its aftertaste.

I tried a quarter teaspoon dose – using the smallest measuring spoon we have in our kitchen - and yes, it was way too much. After one sip I poured the rest of the pot down the drain.

Next, I went all the way down to a single punch of sea salt, which I put on top on the ground coffee in the filter basket. That’s really a tiny amount.

Surprisingly, a single pinch of salt had quite an impact. The coffee didn’t taste salty at all, which was a good thing. But the bitterness in the aftertaste was almost entirely gone. Best of all, the sweetness I enjoy in that coffee wasn’t changed at all.

I have no idea about the chemistry at play here, but it seems that adding salt to coffee does cut back on bitterness and acidity.

The trick being to use a light touch and use no more than a single pinch of salt for each pot brewed.

Try it again and let us know how it goes!

Comments for Does putting salt in coffee make it less bitter?

Click here to add your own comments

Salt for bitter coffee
by: Willie

Yes the salt added to bitter Coffee really works. When I’am served bitter coffee is when I add it. It works like a charm but the coffee if it’s really bad no amount of salt will help it nor will any thing else that I know of. I simply just don’t drink it if it’s that bad.

better coffee
by: Na

I have been drinking Coffee since I was 16, Im 57 now. I started out back then just drinking Coffee black, as I was getting older I started putting Coffee creamer to smooth out the bitterness, it helped a little. I was at Cheddars restaurant & their Coffee was Amazing, I asked them what kind of Coffee they used, the reply was "Columbian", I went & bought "expensive" Columbian Coffee, it was not smooth as Cheddars was so I went& bought "Cheep" Columbian Coffee, it taste "No different" than the expensive Coffee, I had heard if you add just "alittle" salt it would make bitter Coffee smooth, so just the other day I added salt to my Coffee grounds before brewing, my goodness it was Smooth just like Cheddars, it really works!!! Heres how much I used for a Pot of Coffee I just lightly sprinkled salt over the Coffee grounds where it looked like it had slightly snowed snowed on the ground, I would say it was approximately a pinch or less. Give it a try & enjoy ☺

salty brew
by: Anonymous

Its a well-known trick to add salt to brewed coffee to lessen the bitter taste from acidity. I've also known some baristas will add a pinch of baking soda to cut the acidity although this does give it the twang of baking soda just as salt can yield a slight salty taste.

Diner Coffee
by: pistachio

Once I worked the Counter in a diner. I had many things to do and one was to make URNS of coffee. There were two urns side by side / All Stainless Steel and the coffee basket was as big and a very sizable dinner plate.... I think the amount of coffee as I remember was well over a pound for each Urn Brew.....
Just to say, at the end of the brew I would draw off about a quart and put it back in the top after having taking out the grounds. The owners referred to this as ' turning the coffee ' as if somehow the coffee on the bottom was different than on top so this was to mix.
When I learned all of this counter stuff another thing that I was to do after the coffee was kinda cooked as we would get towards the bottom of the urn was to draw off the rest and put in to the Cooler to be then sold as Iced Coffee.
In training when making coffee I was told to put salt on the grounds and the Reason for this stated by the owner, was to make the customers Thirsty so they would order and drink more.

Yeah, so these were some disappointments with my introduction in to the world of Profit!

ok,, enough but just to add.....

I never liked flavored coffees but when they were the rage, I found that if you add ONE drop of Vanilla Extract [ Real not Imitation ] you get a good vanilla coffee flavor... Something just to try if you like.


Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions about Coffee.

Before you go, sign up to receive the Coffee Detective Newsletter...

Sign up for occasional newsletters about the best coffees and brewing equipment. Plus special updates from the Coffee Detective Coffee Store…