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Coffee with Salt

PaulF Feb 13, 2007 08:48 AM

I was reading an old mystery novel the other day and the main character (who is depicted as a bit of a chef ... or at least a good cook) puts a pinch of salt in his coffee grounds before brewing.

In other words, a few scoops of coffee and a pinch or a dash of salt.

I'm actually squeamish to try it ... sounds icky ... but I've been wrong before.

Does anyone routinely put a dash of salt into their coffee maker when brewing coffee?

  1. Aabacus Sep 18, 2011 06:47 PM

    I can't say it any better than the other folks have already. Salt kills the bitterness and will also eliminate any natural sweetness (salt and sugar are natural enemies - don't store them next to each other or they'll keep you up all night with their growling).

    How much? My answer is always 6-11 grains depending on the size of the cup.

    It's especially good for office coffee and the nasty perk coffee (from the giant parker pot...thing) you get at some restaurants.

    First time I showed this to my wife she was skeptical. Now she just has me make her coffee and never questions.

    1. r
      rainey Sep 18, 2011 10:33 AM

      It's just a pinch. It counteracts any bitterness in the grounds. I keep small spice jar shakers of salt and cinnamon with my coffee grounds.

      Try it and see what you think. You won't taste any saltiness and maybe you won't taste any notable improvement in the smoothness of the brew but try it before you decide.

      1. d
        danbo Sep 18, 2011 10:30 AM

        It's a old Army trick. We used , only a pinch or so, for 8-10 cups so it didn't flavor the coffee but removed bitterness. Works on old coffee too.

        1. Hank Hanover Aug 20, 2010 08:26 PM

          The other day I brewed a pot of coffee. I had forgotten my wife wasn't here so I made too much. Next morning I decided to just fill a mug with last nights coffee and heat in the microwave.

          Well the coffee had a bit of a bitter aftertaste. I put a shake of sea salt in the mug of coffee and the after taste was gone. So the salt did seem to help on that occasion.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hank Hanover
            ZenSojourner Aug 21, 2010 08:54 AM

            My dad was notorious for making coffee extra strong. He complained bitterly when they switched from a percolator to drip coffee at work, back when "Mr. Coffee" was still brand spanking new.

            He used to take the sludge left at the bottom of the percolator, pour it into a cup, and put it in the fridge. Next morning he would pour it into the percolator before making a new pot of coffee. Kind of like "coffee starter".

            That HAD to be about the most bitter coffee on the face of the planet. Of course, he used a lot of cream and sugar with his coffee. When I got him a cup of coffee, I would fill the cup up 1/3rd with sugar, then to 2/3 with cream, then add the coffee.

            I'm pretty sure he would have thought a bit of salt to cut down on the bitterness would just RUIN the coffee! Although I'm not sure you could use enough salt to noticeably reduce that much bitterness without making the coffee actually taste salty.

          2. b
            Brewchief Aug 7, 2010 10:33 AM

            I saw them do this in an episode of Bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmerman. I believe that he was in India or thereabouts. They had unsalted coffee as well, and gave Zimmerman some of the salted coffee to try. He didn't like it, but the funny thing was that none of the Indians seemed to either!

            6 Replies
            1. re: Brewchief
              Hank Hanover Aug 7, 2010 11:11 AM

              I was driving through Georgia and stopped at a stand selling boiled peanuts among other things. I bought some and tried them. Well, they weren't for me. I had a tough time finding any of the locals to take them. I got the impression they thought it was just for the tourists. In fairness, I did eventually find someone that would take them. I thought I was going to have to toss them.

              I live in Texas. Every time someone visits, I take them down to where they can buy a tequila lollipop with an Agave worm in it. None of the locals actually eat them. They are just for tourists.

              Maybe it was all a big joke for the Indians.

              1. re: Hank Hanover
                b
                Brewchief Aug 7, 2010 06:27 PM

                Hey I live in Texas as well, and though I don't like the canned boiled peanuts, I like them when I buy raw peanuts in the hull and make them myself. I think it may be kind of how something may be known for a region, but modern tastes have changed for the majority, and it isn't as commonly enjoyed. Another thing may be that people were hesitant to take food from a stranger, even in the South.

                As for the tequila pops with the worm, I see them in the gas stations sometimes but I haven't had one since I was a kid and can't even remember if they are any good. Nonetheless they are most certainly a gimmick.

                So, you may very well be right about it being a joke for them, or maybe it is just a matter of collective tastes changing, though salted coffee may have at one time been more favorable.

                1. re: Hank Hanover
                  a
                  aventinus Aug 7, 2010 07:26 PM

                  FWIW, boiled peanuts its very common in the rural south, and certainly not prepared solely for tourists. Where I grew up, it was not unusual to drive by someone with a stand on the side of the road and a huge pot of boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts is, in fact, my favorite way to eat peanuts.

                  1. re: aventinus
                    Hank Hanover Aug 7, 2010 08:00 PM

                    It must be an acquired taste and I was just passing through. :-D

                    1. re: aventinus
                      scubadoo97 Aug 8, 2010 02:25 PM

                      Agreed they are not just a tourist item. Boiled peanuts and fried peanuts in the shell are a Southern thing. I like 'em

                      1. re: scubadoo97
                        alkapal Aug 21, 2010 04:37 AM

                        scubadoo, aren't you around tampa? hawk's brand locally there is very, very good -- and they are jum-bo! http://hawksboiledpeanuts.com/

                2. Hank Hanover Aug 6, 2010 03:56 PM

                  Most cooks add at least a pinch of salt into almost everything they make. America's Text Kitchen said as much on a video they made. They put it in chocolate recipes and anything they bake.

                  I never knew why adding salt made something sweet like watermelon taste better but it does.

                  So why not? I never did it but why wouldn't it work as a flavor enhancer the way it works on everything else?

                  I suspect it would have to be a very small amount added to the coffee grounds. So small that you couldn't identify the salt flavor but could still alter the flavor, perhaps in a good way. I'll try it sometime.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                    bushwickgirl Aug 6, 2010 04:38 PM

                    Salt, used very judiciously, is the best flavor enhancer I know of.

                    Speaking of salting watermelon, I distinctly remember a Morton salt magazine ad from the 50's, which showed a gentleman sprinkling salt on watermelon. My 5 year old brain couldn't understand that concept then, but my much older brain gets it now.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                      Hank Hanover Aug 6, 2010 06:28 PM

                      I have a friend I have known since childhood. He has an IQ that is sky high but he never quite got the concept of salt as a seasoning. He used to laugh at his father because he used salt on watermelon. He said it brought the sweetness out and to Phil's ultra logical mind that just did not compute.

                      He would put a huge amount of salt on other food such as mashed potatoes and say. you have to put enough salt on to taste it. Little did he know that you don't have to put enough on to taste the salt but just to enhance or slightly change the flavor of the food.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                        Hank Hanover Aug 7, 2010 08:40 AM

                        Do you put pepper on your cantaloupe? Don't knock it til you tried it.

                        1. re: Hank Hanover
                          bushwickgirl Aug 7, 2010 09:42 AM

                          I'm not very fond of cantaloupe, so no. Any other melon, sure, black pepper, various chili powders, salt, but not cantaloupe.

                          Tried the salt in coffee technique this morning, two measured pinches, which is 1/16 teaspoon, into 10 tablespoons coffee for 12 cups water (I use espresso) and mrbushy commented that it tasted "brighter". I didn't notice anything different in particular, but I dilute my coffee with lots of milk. I should have tried it black. Tomorrow!

                          1. re: bushwickgirl
                            rworange Aug 9, 2010 02:59 PM

                            Have you tried lime juice on cantelope? That often gives it a flavor boost.

                            I will say that salt may help coffee but black pepper doesn.t.Being a grinco in a foreign country, I ordered a cappuccino and just assumed the shaker on the counter was chocolate. Uh, uh. ... black pepper. Didn't do a thing for the coffee. I don't see this as a potential trend

                            1. re: rworange
                              bushwickgirl Aug 10, 2010 12:26 AM

                              Yes to the lime juice on melon, especially honeydew or casaba. I just am not very fond of cantalope, I guess.

                              Funny about the black pepper, whoops! I can't see it as a trend either.

                        2. re: bushwickgirl
                          sbp Aug 7, 2010 07:39 PM

                          By the way, cayenne pepper (or any powdered chile for that matter) is a great match for watermelon.

                          1. re: sbp
                            bushwickgirl Aug 7, 2010 07:39 PM

                            It certainly is.

                            1. re: sbp
                              Hank Hanover Aug 7, 2010 07:59 PM

                              Yes I kind of suspected that was correct. Cayenne mixed with chili powder sprinkled on pineapple is good. I suspect it is the sweet hot combo so any sweet fruit would be good with cayenne I suspect.

                          2. re: Hank Hanover
                            Hank Hanover Aug 7, 2010 07:58 AM

                            I don't drink the gourmet stuff just the Folgers swill that I have always drank. I don't brew it super strong either.

                            When I made coffee in the coffee maker this morning, I added 2 shakes of table salt to the grounds before I hit the on switch. I really didn't notice any change.

                            Maybe I will add more next time.

                          3. h
                            havronl Apr 21, 2010 12:17 PM

                            I do this all the time. But be CAREFUL no to put too much -- just a dash -- like glitter. It cuts the bitterness in coffee. But to be fair -- I drink very strong coffee -- if it is weak there may not be much of a taste change.

                            1. j
                              jenniferlove Mar 9, 2010 09:32 PM

                              Without meaning to get overly technical, here's how the salt in coffee thing works:

                              Our tongues have millions of receptors on it which can detect the following flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory. Foods we eat have chemical binders that attach to the receptors, thereby giving us the sense of taste. Contrary to popular belief, all areas of the tongue have these receptors, thus there is no one specific area that is designed to detect one particular taste sensation.

                              Coffee does have bitter notes to it, no matter how good the grind. This comes from tanins within the coffee itself. Bitter and salty flavors have the same shape of binding site on the receptor, so when you add a minute pinch of salt to your cup of coffee, it causes competitive inhibition for the binding site of the bitter flavors. When a salt molecule locks itself into the receptor for bitter, it blocks the bitter chemical from being able to access that taste receptor. Then when you add other things, like sugar or honey, for example, those sweet flavors are enhanced even more so. It's actually quite lovely.

                              Now, you don't put enough salt in your coffee to give it a distinctly salty flavor. Add just a shy pinch (I add a few grains of kosher salt) and you'll notice a difference. I buy only the best quality free trade coffee I can find in my city, and when I started adding the salt to my coffee, I noticed that I didn't have to add sugar to it to give it a better flavor. Just a dash of half and half and a few grains of kosher salt and I have an exquisite cup of java to start off my morning.

                              1. c
                                ceruleanbill Mar 1, 2010 03:55 AM

                                I seem to recall reading, quite some time ago, that Navy crewmen would put salt into the grounds to reduce the acidity of the coffee. I do that with my own coffee at home, but I have to admit that I'm not sure it does any good.

                                1. bushwickgirl Dec 22, 2009 09:15 PM

                                  Lots of interesting posts here.

                                  I think putting salt in the coffee dates back to the 1880's cowboy days; remember the old cowboy films (made in the 1940's, however) and chuck wagon Cookie always put salt in the big speckled enamel drip pot with the coffee grounds? I can only imagine the quality of the coffee available back then.
                                  Then the cowboys would spit the coffee out after they tasted it, as a commentary on Cookie's culinary skills.
                                  Now please don't say anything about that happening only in the movies...

                                  A little pinch of salt in anything will enhance the flavor of anything, without making it salty, even coffee. I don't see why it wouldn't work. If Alton Brown does it, then it's cool by me.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bushwickgirl
                                    Zeldog Dec 22, 2009 09:36 PM

                                    I worked in an office of about 20 or so people many years back and adding a pinch of salt to to the ground coffee was standard procedure. It did improve the taste, but we used cheap, crappy beans. Maybe it's like adding a pinch of salt to bread dough or oatmeal. As others have noted, you don't want to add so much that you actually taste the salt.

                                  2. b
                                    bizkat Dec 22, 2009 07:13 PM

                                    In a recent episode of GOOD EATS, Alton Brown recommended a pinch of salt added to the ground coffee beans. Hmm...maybe he read the book.

                                    1. a
                                      azucar Dec 22, 2009 12:29 PM

                                      What's the name of the book? I'd like to read it.

                                      1. c
                                        crtrprtr Jul 30, 2009 07:56 AM

                                        A lady I work with made coffee sprinkling salt over the already-used grounds and then adding more grounds today. She said the salt takes away the bitterness. IT WAS AWFUL!! My secretary and I were hard pressed to even try the stuff because it smelled sooooo bad. Needless to say, I will always have an excuse available the next time she wants to make a pot of coffee. Oh, I actually thought the coffee tasted more bitter than usual!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: crtrprtr
                                          rworange Jul 30, 2009 11:22 AM

                                          Ick. Fresh coffee only. Not day old used grounds. I don't thin anything could help that

                                          1. re: rworange
                                            oakjoan Jul 30, 2009 12:02 PM

                                            We used to sprinkle cinnamon over our coffee grounds when I was in college but that was because we couldn't afford good coffee and this cut the bitterness a little. Never heard of the salt deal, but if it's just a pinch, perhaps it IS to bring out flavor as salt usually does. Anything more than a pinch - so that you could actually taste the salt - sounds awful.

                                        2. m
                                          markdsgraham Jul 7, 2009 11:08 AM

                                          I know this thread is old but I just stumbled across it. Serious thanks to rworange for drinking all that bad coffee to test some of this out.

                                          FWIW, my understanding is that it is traditional in Ethiopia to drink coffee with a bit of salt or with clarified butter (also mentioned in the thread)--at least, that is what my neighbourhood Ethiopian restaurant claims.

                                          For me, this is something that is usually unnecessary but might sometimes be helpful.

                                          1. h
                                            hankstramm Apr 16, 2009 09:07 PM

                                            Didn't have time to read everyone elses posts, but this is perfectly normal. A pinch of salt will improve almost any coffee. When I say a pinch, I mean 1/8 teaspoon or less with 4 cups or more of coffee. Nobody can detect it, but it will improve it...

                                            1. j
                                              joelbs Sep 13, 2008 01:30 PM

                                              it appears that this thread has died, but for those that are interested in some of the science and history of Black gang coffee. It was started from the engineers in the boiler rooms of ships. Since they ships of the time used coal or wood fired boilers, the soot turned them black. The salt in the coffee is a natural water softener and so it does help with stored potable water and ait helps with water retention and replenishing electrolytes since the caffiene in the coffee will dehydrate you. A recipe I found is 1 part salt to 6 parts dark coffee grounds to 6 parts medium coffee grounds mixed before brewing. Note that this is designed to dampen the bitterness from strong coffee so if you don't like your coffee strong, I would not recommend trying this recipe exactly, or maybe changeing the grounds to medium and light or dark and light, but this might and probably will effect the saltiness.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: joelbs
                                                t
                                                thursday Apr 18, 2009 03:11 PM

                                                Actually, I like strong coffee but not overbrewed/burnt. This thread has SAVED me on long car trips and mornings at amusement parks--I can now tolerate bad roadside coffee!

                                                Thanks for the tip, and the science behind it. Very interesting...

                                              2. s
                                                snackboy Mar 11, 2008 09:47 PM

                                                Hey All,

                                                I use a french press and have always put a small pinch of salt in my coffee I have also (lately) been adding a small amount of freshly ground nutmeg (in very small amounts) . . . I find the nutmeg is a natural with coffee ... much like it is with bitter greens . . . it just seems to round out the flavours....My brother who buys the same coffee beans always comments that mine tastes much better than his does . . .I've also had a number of other people comment on how the subtle flavor adds a little something to the brew....Give it a try....It's quite tasty!!

                                                SB

                                                1. Tehama Mar 6, 2008 04:14 AM

                                                  I just tried this "salt-dash" method to Community Coffee (Louisiana coffee http://www.communitycoffee.com/ccc/de...)

                                                  Cmty Coff is often too strong for me on its own (perfect for café au lait, though), but by adding the dash of salt to the grounds prior to brewing really cut the bitterness. Thanks PaulF and everyone!

                                                  1. l
                                                    love_london Mar 4, 2008 05:05 AM

                                                    my grandfather does it he loves it and he said it doesnt do nothing ot the coffee and im alittle bit err to try. i know im a chef blah blah.. but i never would do it... maybe i will...just to try it.. hmm i till do it right now after this.. and tell ya how it was... i guess it softins the coffee.. hmm maybe...not sure i'll call papa

                                                    1. s
                                                      socmobile Mar 3, 2008 09:49 PM

                                                      What you are talking about is called Black Gang Coffee. The Black Gang are the men who work in the engine room of a ship. They would brew thick coffee to keep them going for long shifts ( generally 18 hours ). they would add a pinch of salt for the electrolytes, like a 19th century Gatorade. Old time sailors still brew it for nostalgia. Im sure in another 20 years the art will be dead and gone.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: socmobile
                                                        c
                                                        calawyr Apr 16, 2009 07:10 PM

                                                        Salt also works for "midwatch" coffee. That's the coffee left over from dinner that is slowly cooking down to the point that, when you drink a cup at 2:00 a.m. out of desperation in an attempt to stay awake, you have to cut it with a knife. It's thick and horribly bitter if you don't salt it a bit. Actually, it's still thick and bitter, but somewhat improved.

                                                        1. re: calawyr
                                                          alkapal Jul 7, 2009 03:44 PM

                                                          i call that the "la brea tar pits" coffee.

                                                      2. l
                                                        Louise Nov 2, 2007 03:08 PM

                                                        My BF just did this the other day right in front of me. He said the same thing, it cuts bitterness. Of course, I like it sorta bitter.

                                                        RWOrange, nice documentation. I don't remember seeing Harold McGee discuss this.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Louise
                                                          d
                                                          donnie101 Dec 19, 2007 02:53 PM

                                                          In hot climates a pinch of salt in your 1st cup in the morning helps get the brain fireing,
                                                          as well rounding off the flavour....

                                                        2. k
                                                          Kaye1022 Nov 2, 2007 07:24 AM

                                                          I myself was a bit sceptical about this when my mother in law told me she did this. I always wonder why her coffee tasted so much better than mine ... always thought it was because she was using an old percolator rather than a coffee pot like most of us use. It tastes wonderful...now it's a rule in my house as well. I tried selling the idea to my co-workers -- although most had heard that people have used salt in their brewing process. They weren't sold on the my idea! So I started putting in a pinch of salt in my cup prior to pouring my coffee. Tastes the same as if I would have brewed the salt with the coffee grounds. Much smoother taste... I must agree.

                                                          1. pikawicca Sep 30, 2007 04:52 PM

                                                            Well, I've just addded a pinch of kosher salt to the beans I'll be grinding tomorrow morning. Will post if there's a difference.

                                                            1. bluesman Sep 30, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                              After reading this I remembered that my parents added a small bit of butter (smaller than a pea) to a bitter cup of coffee. Maybe it's the salt in the butter that fixed the bitterness???

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: bluesman
                                                                t
                                                                Texchef Sep 30, 2007 04:48 PM

                                                                On the original question of this thread... my reply is what the .....????? I think if your coffee needs "fixing" it's not good enough to drink. Just my opinion, being someone who really likes the taste of good coffee.

                                                              2. f
                                                                flounderhead59 Mar 18, 2007 01:33 PM

                                                                Salt reduces the bitterness and we do it at work all the time. I do it at home and the wife doesn't know and has never complained. Of course she uses non-dairy creamer, sugar and powdered chotolate drink mix powder too. I drink mine black and unsweetened. I sure wouldn't dip a cracker in my coffee though, dang thing would disolve and have cracker paste in the bottom of the cup.

                                                                1. Dommy Feb 20, 2007 01:04 PM

                                                                  My pal who is a nurse sweares by REALLY strong coffee with a saltine dipped in before taking the first sip.

                                                                  --Dommy!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Dommy
                                                                    rworange Feb 20, 2007 02:47 PM

                                                                    That is such a cool tip. That ensures there's just the minimal amount of salt ... and most of the places that serve coffee that needs salt would have saltines ... for to the canned soup or chili.

                                                                    1. re: rworange
                                                                      Dommy Feb 20, 2007 03:48 PM

                                                                      Exactly her reasoning. She hordes saltine packets (This is how i found out about her doing this when she asked me for mine after we finished a lunch out and I joked that I heard Nurses were supposed to be well paid... :D)

                                                                      --Dommy!

                                                                  2. m
                                                                    Mill City Modern Feb 14, 2007 08:49 AM

                                                                    I know someone who always puts a couple of dashes of Tabasco into his cup of (brewed) coffee!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Mill City Modern
                                                                      rworange Feb 14, 2007 09:25 AM

                                                                      Yeah, I'm not biting for that one. Someone else can give that a try. Now hot chocolate ... that might be an idea.

                                                                      1. re: rworange
                                                                        kubasd Apr 18, 2009 05:33 PM

                                                                        salted hot chocolate is amazing!!! especially witha caramel floated on top

                                                                    2. t
                                                                      tomself Feb 14, 2007 08:34 AM

                                                                      There was a similar reference to this in an early Tom Clancy novel. The character was the ex admiral at the CIA. He was making a pot of coffee and told how he added a pinch of salt. It mentioned that it was an old Navy tradition/habit/standard. Can't recall which.

                                                                      1. d
                                                                        drgnflychic Feb 14, 2007 08:26 AM

                                                                        My grandpa has always put a dab of salt in his coffee grounds before brewing - he says it cuts down the bitterness.

                                                                        1. u
                                                                          uneventfulijk Feb 14, 2007 07:30 AM

                                                                          I lived in Chinatown in NYC for a year and all of the Chinese-run coffee shops do this. That said, Chinatown coffee is some of my favorite!

                                                                          1. rworange Feb 13, 2007 03:41 PM

                                                                            This is the type of stuff that gets me curious, so I gave it a try ...

                                                                            Bottom line:

                                                                            - I will never suffer through another bad cup of coffee at a fast food joint, restaurant, gas station ,etc as long as I have salt to add to the cup.

                                                                            Salt really does take the edge off a bad cup of coffee.taking away the sharp bite and making it mellow and smoother.

                                                                            - Salt responsibly. A tiny bit too much takes it over the edge

                                                                            - Doesn't do a thing for decent coffee and has the possiblity of accenting some bad qualities to the coffee.

                                                                            - There is no difference between adding salt to the grounds while brewing or adding salt to a cup of already brewed coffee. Same taste.

                                                                            Here's what I used:

                                                                            - 1 cup of Maxwell House coffee brewed salt-free this morning
                                                                            - 1 pot (10 cups) Maxwell House coffee brewed with 1/8 tsp of salt
                                                                            - 1 cup of instant Nescafe Classico coffee
                                                                            - 1 sacrificial pot of Maxwell House coffee with way too much salt ... 1/2 teaspoon

                                                                            I looked around on the web and there were quite a few references to adding a pinch of salt, including one from the Salt Institute
                                                                            http://www.saltinstitute.org/29.html

                                                                            But what does a pinch really mean? How much coffee to salt?

                                                                            Yeah ... 1/2 teaspoon to 10 cups of coffee ... too much salt. Threw it away.

                                                                            The most successful use of salt was with the instant Nescafe Clasico which to me tastes vile and bitter.

                                                                            Made a cup ... black ... took a sip ... as noxious as I remembered

                                                                            Took a few grains of salt and sprinkled it into black coffee. INSTANT change to the instant coffee.

                                                                            It was a lot smoother and salt really did mellow the cup and make it drinkable. Now it didn't make it great coffee, but it turned it decent.

                                                                            Added a few more grains of salt ... still ok, but it was on the edge of getting salty. Adding milk brought out a bit more saltiness.

                                                                            So just sprinkle lightly with salt and once the edge is gone ... stop. Less is more.

                                                                            Ok, read this as one cup of Maxwell House coffee was left over in the pot from my morning brew.

                                                                            Maxwell House isn't a bad supermarket coffee ... my S/O likes it ... but to me it has a faint background cardboard taste to it ... not really pronouced. It is a mild coffee, so there's no bitterness AFAIK to it. It starts mellow ... or to be unkind ... bland ... inoffensive.

                                                                            Tried a sip of black coffee of the pot brewed with the 1/8 tsp of salt. What it did was bring out that cardboard taste. Not horrid, but it was stronger.

                                                                            My thought is that just as salt will bring out good flavors in food, it will also bring out bad flavors.

                                                                            I might try adding a little salt to a cup of more complex coffee ... yes Blue Bottle I'm talking to you ... I'm adding SALT to my next cup of BB coffee. Will see if it intensifies the good flavors.

                                                                            Added milk. Now I have two identical cups of coffee ... same coffee, same milk, same amount, same brewing methology with only salt as the difference.

                                                                            For Maxwell House, the cup without salt was better ... sweeter. The salted coffee was ok, I just preferred the sweeter brew.

                                                                            Added a few sprinkles to the cup brewed without salt. It tasted identical to the cup brewed with salt. So salt can be added after brewing with the same results.

                                                                            So I'd use salt only if I had a bitter cup of coffee and no other option ... like being caught on the highway somewhere and bad coffee from some joint is the only option. Or I accidently buy a bitter bag of coffee. I'd add salt instead of tossing the coffee or suffering through it.

                                                                            I wonder if America's Test Kitchen will hire me? My dream job ... second only to being Harold McGee's assistant.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: rworange
                                                                              orangewasabi Feb 13, 2007 03:50 PM

                                                                              ok, THAT was really something. you've done it for science and for all of us who have to drive for long distances beyond the reach of our thermosi. awesome, thank you!

                                                                              1. re: orangewasabi
                                                                                y
                                                                                yehudimenuhin Feb 13, 2007 04:45 PM

                                                                                Agreed

                                                                                I'm convinced to give it a try.

                                                                              2. re: rworange
                                                                                PaulF Feb 13, 2007 05:04 PM

                                                                                You are my hero.

                                                                                1. re: rworange
                                                                                  bryan Feb 13, 2007 08:20 PM

                                                                                  Way to take one for the team.

                                                                                  1. re: rworange
                                                                                    alkapal Nov 2, 2007 12:21 PM

                                                                                    rworange, it is now november. have you come down from all that coffee you so couragesouly tested? ;-)

                                                                                  2. orangewasabi Feb 13, 2007 12:46 PM

                                                                                    my secretary used to swear by the dash of salt she put into the coffee grinds every morning -- she claimed it was a dutch secret. I couldn't tell if it made a difference or not, it certainly didn't make the coffee salty. But the next pot that someone else made tasted pretty much the same without it (we all told her we put salt in the pots we made though, because no one wanted to take her wrath if we didn't)

                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                      Hungry Celeste Feb 13, 2007 11:43 AM

                                                                                      This is a common practice on many commercial fishing vessels, tugboats, and offshore oil rigs--anyplace where potable water is stored for long periods of time. Not only does the salt cut the bitterness of the coffee, but it also smooths out the "stale" taste of tank-stored water.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        howboy Feb 13, 2007 12:17 PM

                                                                                        My mother put a dash of salt in coffee back in the 50's. I think she also put crushed egg shell too, at one time ---I have NO idea what that was supposed to do.

                                                                                        1. re: howboy
                                                                                          h
                                                                                          Hungry Celeste Feb 13, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                                                          Ah, the crushed egg shell serves to clarify coffee. Did she use a two-part enamel drip coffee pot? These pots have rather large perforations in the metal filter section, and inevitably some grounds end up in the bottom part of the pot in the brewed coffee. You put a smashed eggshell (rinsed) in the bottom of the pot and it traps the stray grounds.

                                                                                          1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                            h
                                                                                            howboy Feb 13, 2007 12:44 PM

                                                                                            Nope, it was a Pyrex percolator.. I think it was a hot tip from her globe-trotting brother.... it was supposed to improve the taste. He always visited us with a trove of unusual culinary "secrets". This was way back when, mind you--before the Gastronomic Revolution---so folks found my Mom's cooking techniques exotic.

                                                                                            1. re: howboy
                                                                                              scubadoo97 Nov 2, 2007 02:43 PM

                                                                                              yep those perculators did brew some bitter coffee.

                                                                                      2. k
                                                                                        Kagey Feb 13, 2007 10:50 AM

                                                                                        Spenser, by any chance?

                                                                                        I also think it has to do with bitterness. Don't be squeamish. Give it a try. My guess is that you won't notice a difference. Maybe you'll like it!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Kagey
                                                                                          PaulF Feb 13, 2007 10:58 AM

                                                                                          Yep.

                                                                                          I found a copy of Hush Money in my garage and picked it up, I think I may have read it before (though for some reason i quit on that series about six or seven years ago --- I think they all started to read the same to me).

                                                                                          But they are pretty good books, beach reads.

                                                                                          I use a coffee press, not a Mr. Coffee but I'll give it a shot.

                                                                                        2. chef chicklet Feb 13, 2007 10:04 AM

                                                                                          I believe that this originated while using chichory because of the bitterness, I have done it also with regular french roast and can't report anything remarkably different. I used to put it into the ground coffee prior to brewing.

                                                                                          1. r
                                                                                            ray Feb 13, 2007 09:36 AM

                                                                                            A good cup of coffee doesn't need any doctoring at all, but sometimes you get a cup that's more bitter than you like. Some people add sweetener to counteract the bitterness, but salt is actually much more effective at decreasing your perception of bitterness. Try it! It's just a matter of taste, really. If it's legit to put sugar in your coffee, it's equally legit to use salt. In the same vein, if you find grapefruit too bitter on its own, try sprinkling salt on it instead of sugar.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: ray
                                                                                              r
                                                                                              ray Feb 13, 2007 09:40 AM

                                                                                              That said, I would definitely not add salt with the grounds before brewing. Add it to your cup, like you would milk and sugar. You need to be able to taste what you've got before you mess with it.

                                                                                              1. re: ray
                                                                                                alkapal Nov 2, 2007 12:17 PM

                                                                                                i grew up using salt on grapefruit (s. fla.). mmm. i can taste it now. so refreshing!

                                                                                              2. l
                                                                                                LenaNE Feb 13, 2007 09:16 AM

                                                                                                I used to add a pinch of salt and a shake of cinnamon to the coffee grounds on a daily basis...( before brewing) it cuts the bitterness and brings out the coffee flavor...you don't taste the salt at all..now that better coffee beans are available I don't add salt at all..

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: LenaNE
                                                                                                  PaulF Feb 13, 2007 09:31 AM

                                                                                                  Interesting ...

                                                                                                  I'm no cook, but by osmosis (my wife watches Food Network) I thought I learned that sometimes salt is used in small quantities to enhance other flavors, even when you can't taste the salt. This reminds me of that.

                                                                                                  1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                    bryan Feb 13, 2007 08:17 PM

                                                                                                    Yes. I think that's exactly right. When I saute garlic in olive oil, I always add a little salt... it seems to diffuse the flavor throughout whatever dish I'm using it in. I worked with a chef who insisted on a little salt in virtually everything he made - albeit in the beginning stages. And his dishes were never salty. But very, very flavorful.

                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                  caphill2320 Feb 13, 2007 09:09 AM

                                                                                                  My housekeeper when I was young always put salt in her coffee. Always. For a while we thought she just confused it with the sugar (our house doesn't have labels on the jars) so we tried to tell her and she said that she prefers salt. I can never bring myself to try it though.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: caphill2320
                                                                                                    PaulF Feb 13, 2007 09:30 AM

                                                                                                    Just so we're clear ... I'm talking about putting salt in with the coffee before it's made. Not adding salt (like you would sugar) and stirring it in.

                                                                                                    1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                      caphill2320 Feb 14, 2007 07:13 AM

                                                                                                      Oops, the person I knew added it like sugar to brewed coffee.

                                                                                                  2. t
                                                                                                    tastytamarind Feb 13, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                                                                    you're sure this isn't the author's way of telling you that the main character is not a sugar-coated kind of guy?

                                                                                                    i'll be following this post. I'm a coffee addict and I must know what this is all about....

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: tastytamarind
                                                                                                      PaulF Feb 13, 2007 09:34 AM

                                                                                                      Not sure.

                                                                                                      In the book, the private eye is sort of a macho guy who can cook, but his girlfriend can't cook. He tells her to add more coffee (to make it stronger) and a pinch of salt (who knows, but a post below suggests it might be to cut the bitterness).

                                                                                                      The result is strong coffee he likes and coffee she thinks is too strong (and salty -- though maybe she's just imagining it ... which means I'm now speculating on what a fictional character might be imagining ... which is weird)

                                                                                                      1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                        Jimjam Aug 4, 2010 01:33 AM

                                                                                                        An early method for decaffeinating coffee beans involved soaking the unroasted beans in salt water to extract the caffeine. So adding salt to the grounds before they are brewed actually makes sense if salt is being added in order to increase the caffeine level. I'm not sure if that small an amount of salt would make a difference. I hope it does because it would give me a way to boost the caffeine in my cold brewed coffee.

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