Does putting salt in coffee make it less bitter?
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?
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!