Salt in Coffee: Why Should You Be Adding Salt to Coffee?

salt in coffee

We've all been there. You grab a cup of coffee, enjoy the aroma, and then take a giant gulp. The joy turns to surprise as the bitterness of the coffee overpowers all other coffee tasting notes. Well, not only will drinking Black Ink Coffee help with this, but putting salt in coffee can help avoid this unpleasant shock as well.

In fact, salt can do much more than just helping with bitterness. Some studies show that adding salt to your coffee can also turn an average cup of coffee to the best low acid coffee. Check out our review below to learn for yourself!

Why Are People Adding Salt to Coffee? 

Even the biggest fans of coffee can run into problems with a brew that is too bitter and too acidic. Salt is a natural way to fight those problems, without masking the natural taste we seek in a morning cup of Joe. 

People have been adding salt to coffee since almost the day they started brewing the beans. It was used in some places to help make stale water taste fresher. It has also been used to help replace salt in the diets of deployed soldiers. 

Adding salt has grown in popularity for a while now to combat the bitterness of coffee. Many famous cooks such as Alton Brown have extolled the benefits of using salt when you brew coffee.

Benefits to Salt In Coffee

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Sometimes, even when you brew coffee perfectly, you still end up with a very bitter drink. Salt can take the edge off that flavor without having to add extra sugar or cream. 

Salt is also an easy way to make less acidic coffees taste better. By adding a little salt to your coffee, you can drink a darker roast and reduce many of the problems associated with the strong acid of light brew coffees. 

Heavy coffee consumption can also take salt and other electrolytes out of our system. Adding a bit of salt can help you replace the lost electrolytes. 

Coffee or water sitting in the open air for too long can get a stale taste. Salt can cut some of the staleness and make things taste better. If you have to use coffee that has been open for too long, salt can freshen up the flavor and make it easier to drink. 

Are There Health Benefits to Adding Salt?

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By itself, coffee has many health benefits. These include antioxidants, increased energy levels, clearer thinking, weight loss, and protection from diseases, notably diabetes and dementia.  

However, adding cream and sugar to change the brew's taste can overshadow these positive effects. Salt can help you enjoy your coffee more without adding the empty calories. Avoiding the extra sugar and fat can highlight the energy and weight loss benefits that coffee offers.

The difference in flavor can also help you choose better coffees for your digestive system. Lighter roasts have more acid, but they are also less bitter. Darker roast adds less acid to your system, but they have more bitterness, making them more challenging to drink. 

Salt can help make dark roast more palatable, which can make the coffee easier on your stomach. The lower acidity can help with acid reflux as long as you don't use too much salt. Finding the right balance can help with stomach issues. 

Some people might worry that the increased salt content can cause other issues. In most cases, though, you lose more salt from cups of coffee than you will add to your drink. For hard workers that sweat a lot, salt in your coffee can help you replace your sodium.

If you have heart issues already, you will want to consult your doctor before adding salt to your coffee and diet. 

Why Does Coffee Taste Bitter? 

add salt to coffee

Coffee gains its bitter taste from two primary sources. The first is from caffeine. Unless you are willing to drink decaf, you will never be able to get rid of that bitterness. The second source is from antioxidants like Chlorogenic Acid Lactones and Phenylindanes. 

These compounds are created during the roasting process when chlorogenic acid breaks down. The darker the roast, the more present these components are in the coffee, making the brew bitter. 

If you are trying to avoid bitter coffee, you will want to pick a lighter roast. Even though there is more caffeine, which adds some bitterness, the lack of the other antioxidants will make it less bitter overall. 

Brewing Up a Bitterness Problem

coffee salt

There are many mistakes people make while making coffee that can add to the overall bitterness of the coffee. If you can avoid these problems, you might make a better cup of coffee that won't need as much help from the salt. 

When making coffee, you want to make sure that you have the right mix of coffee to water. In most cases, you should use two level tablespoons for six ounces of water. The water needs to be the proper heat between 195 and 205 degrees, just under boiling. If the water starts to boil, let it cool off for about 30 seconds.  

If you let the water sit on the grounds too long, it can cause over-saturation, and you will get more bitter coffee. Stale coffee, an imperfect grinding process, dirty equipment, and low-quality coffee beans can all increase the bitterness of the coffee.

Brewing a better cup of coffee will make your whole coffee experience delightful and more fun. You'll be able to taste the flavors of the beans and roast, which can be more fulfilling for connoisseurs. 

How Does Salt Get Rid of the Bitter Coffee Taste?

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We have five taste zones on our tongues that perceive bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami. Some flavors work well together. You can see this in sweet and salty combinations. They have a synergy effect called cross-modal perception that increases the overall experience. 

Other flavors fight each other, like salt and bitter. When you add salt to anything that has bitter flavors, you can mask the bitter taste. If you have a roast that uses sweet flavors like vanilla, you will taste the sweeter flavor even more and lose some bitterness of the ground coffee.  

Salt works better than sugar at neutralizing bitter tastes. In fact, many studies show that bitterness lowers the effect of sugar, not the other way around. You can use a lot less salt to change the taste of your coffee than sugar. 

When you add salt to a properly brewed cup of coffee, you can experience a considerable decrease in bitterness that can make the coffee more enjoyable. 

How Does Salt Affect Acid in Coffee? 

sea salt coffee

The short answer is that salt has no scientific effect on the acid in coffee, even though many sources might make this claim. There is evidence that high amounts of salt can cause more problems with acid. 

However, when using salt with your coffee, you may be more inclined to drink a darker roast with less acid. Usually, these roasts come with an added bitter quality, but you can enjoy the less acidic coffee when you use salt to help take away the bitter flavor. 

Salt can make less acidic coffee more pleasant to drink, but it can't change the acidity of your coffee by itself. To gain the positive effects of salt on coffee acid, you have to buy a darker roast. 

How to Add Salt to Coffee? 

add salt to coffee

You're ready to start making salted coffee, but before you grab the shaker and start to pour it in, hold on. The best way to use salt in your coffee is to add it to your coffee grounds before beginning to brew. 

For every four cups of coffee you plan to make. You only need about half a teaspoon of salt in coffee grounds. If you are only having a single cup, a pinch of salt in coffee will be enough. You want to be careful to use just enough to cut the bitterness, but not so much that you turn the drink salty. 

It is always better to err on the side of too little salt because even after brewing, you can still add a little extra salt if the coffee still has too much bitterness. 

Getting the mix right will take some practice, but the results are worth the extra time. You may not have to add salt to every cup of coffee, so if you are trying a new coffee, you may want to hold off and experiment with the taste. 

Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, or Other?

salt coffee

There are many different salt choices out there, so which one is the best for salt in coffee? First, you have to understand the different kinds of salt. 

Kosher salt is just bigger flakes of regular salt. The bigger size makes it easier to pick up, which is why chefs favor it. Many salt coffee recipes mention this salt specifically because it tends to be a favorite of chefs. 

Sea salt comes from dehydrated seawater. Depending on the source, you may get many different minerals. These minerals can add unique flavors when you use them, and they may have less sodium. It can change the taste of your coffee. 

Himalayan salt comes from mines in Pakistan. The pink color is natural from iron oxide. When using this salt, you add minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Himalayan salt has less sodium which may not work as well as other types of salt.  

Regular salt is going to act just like Kosher salt. You won't get any difference in your coffee unless it happens to have iodine in the mix, but even then, you are just adding a new mineral to the mix. It won't change the taste. 

When Not to Add Salt

adding salt to coffee

Now that you have seen all the benefits, you might be thinking that it is time to add salt to every cup of brewed coffee out there. However, there are certain types of coffee that salt may not help much. 

Lighter brews that focus more on the complex flavors of the beans could lose some of their unique flavors when you add salt.

As a general rule of thumb, the better coffee you purchase, the less likely you will need to add salt to the mix.  

Your Taste Buds Will Thank You

Giving salt in coffee a try has almost no side effects. It can be a natural and low-impact way of getting rid of extra bitterness that can ruin the coffee experience. You can save calories on sugar and cream, which can help you lose weight and get in better shape just by having coffee with salt. 

One of the best perks is that you don't hide and lose the natural flavor of the coffee. You will be able to taste many of the notes of a good coffee bean, especially in more sweet selections, by putting salt in coffee. Cutting the bitterness will enhance the complete flavor profile of the coffee so you can enjoy it more. 

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Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.