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Coffee + Salt

Anyone else put salt in their coffee?

Not in the grinds, but the actual brewed coffee.

I've found that with a dash of salt, a Starbucks brew is actually bearable, and my coffee brewed at home is fantastic.

Just curious ...

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  1. Yes! I saw Alton Brown put a pinch of salt in his coffee on a Good Eats episode. I tried it in my coffee at work (which is also Starbucks) and it was greatly improved. I don't bother with salting coffee at home though. Hub roasts our beans and his coffee is always delicious.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Auriana

      Interesting. I'm also a long time home roaster. Is it only burned coffee that's improved by salt?

      1. re: unburnt

        No, I don't believe so.

        I started adding a pinch of salt to my home brew and it improved the complexion of the coffee significantly.

        I suppose it's the same principle or rationale for adding salt to things like fruit (e.g. pineapples, melons, etc.) and baked desserts (e.g. chocolate chip cookies). It acts like a flavor enhancer.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Makes sense. I always add a pinch of sugar for the same reason.

          Just tried salt. No worse certainly. Better? Requires a double blind test, I think.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            We Asians often eat our fruits (especially the more acidic ones, like citrus, unripe mango, unripe guava, etc.) with salt, or a mix of salt and red pepper.

            Also, one puts a pinch of salt into Vietnamese iced coffee (chicory coffee with sweetened condensed milk). I've heard that places adds a drop or two of fish sauce instead of salt.

            1. re: aqn

              My mom salts all her fruits -- ripe, or not.

              Watermelon, melons, grapefruit, pineapple, mangoes, etc.

      2. 85 Degrees Cafe (In Taiwan and Irvine) serves a signature drink that's basically an iced latte with some sea salt whipped cream floating on top. It's overpriced, but really pretty good.

        1. How much salt do you use? I'm going to try it tomorrow morning.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chaffner

            In an 8 oz cup, probably a shake (or two) of the salt shaker.

          2. I always put it in the grinds but never tried it in the cup. Do you add cream/sugar as well?

            1 Reply
            1. I don't add salt but I make my coffee with deep well water. However, I once knew a guy who swore by salting and peppering the ground coffee in the filter before he ran the coffeemaker

              1. A friend's mother worked in a "greasy spoon" diner - you know, the ones that have the best egg & bacon breakfasts, bottomless coffee and Saturday morning breakfast lineups out the door! She said the secret to their coffee was to put a pinch of salt in the filter with the ground coffee. You don't need much - a pinch will do for a whole pot!
                Never thought to add it to my brewed Starbucks at the office - must try it!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bets22

                  Interesting thread. I can recall having salty coffee at a few diners. I thought it was an attempt to mask a cheap, bitter coffee (or a poor attempt to mask some really bad water) - probably that's why it works with Starbucks coffee (typically bitter, IMO).

                  IMO - a great way to ruin a (good) cup of coffee.

                  1. re: Clams047

                    I didn't think you can't mask bitterness with saltiness. For me, the salt is to enhance the sweetness. It's the same idea as putting salt into pastries (cake, cookies, etc.). I am surprised that people are putting salt into unsweetened/black coffee.

                2. I remember my mother putting a little pinch of salt in with the coffee grounds. Recently, I've been adding a bit of salt to the grounds. After reading some of the posts, I will add a little salt to the brewed coffee in the cup.
                  I think it's a good idea ... in the grounds, or finished brew.
                  Ditto, Starbucks, in not buying their coffee. When I've been out walking, and needed a boost,, and saw only a Starbucks I've ordered a green tea in their large cup. Always works.

                  1. I started adding salt to my ground coffee in the filter a few months ago, after a friend recommended it. It reduces the bitterness/acidity and I feel that the taste becomes smoother and richer, if you would. I've been adding cinnamon (a dash in the filter over the grounds) for years, and everyone always raves about our coffee (sweetness spice also counteracts the bitterness). Salt and cinnamon - not bad, as long as you are not watching your sodium intake. If you do, try just the cinnamon.

                    1. Each to their own I guess. I am usually willing to things a go, but can't help feeling, if it is not broken...
                      Maybe one day when I'm feeling brave.
                      Not today though.

                      1. It's something I learned from my mother many, many years ago. How many years? She was using an electric percolator during the WWII war years.

                        1. I remember reading the NYT's Amanda Hesser recommending a pinch of salt to improve bad red wine (like on a plane).

                          1. Tea with salt is popular in the fabled Roof of the World. In the Yasin Valley, which is a bit of greenery hemmed in by cliffs right where the Hindu Kush and the Karakorams meet, tea with salt is a popular drink. Go southeast to Tibet, and you'll find yummy tea blended with salt and yak butter.



                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Brian S

                              i spent an evening in india drinking salted tea with some visiting kashmiri traders, observing my friend's mom engage in an intricate 3 hour haggle with a few of their number, over cloth and jewelry. the tea itself is delicious, but you do need to get over the saltiness-- it's (disconcertingly) very much like drinking hot seawater or human blood-- that exact level of brininess.

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                I'm guessing the tea was provided by the Kashmiri traders? Because as far as I know in most of India, away from the Himalayas, an offer of salty tea would get the same response as a server in a Tulsa branch of Starbucks asking "so... how many spoons of salt would you like in that latte?" In fact, in a very weird lawsuit in Calcutta in 2002, the Indian Tea Board stated that "salt and tea are two different products which are neither complementary nor supplementary to each other."

                                1. re: Brian S

                                  precisely. the traders brought the salted tea out as well as cups of the sweetened chai that would be more familiar to most of the party, and it was my impression that the salty tea was only offered because they specifically wanted to to see what my friend and i would make of it (we were in the traders' campground, so they were our hosts at the time). the head trader presented the tea to us himself after preparing us for its novelty, referring to it in english as "kashmiri tea with salt." my friend's mom, originally from hyderabad, accepted a small cup of the salted tea to be polite but did not drink it. the salty tea (and presumably other cultural and culinary differences) were later discussed amongst the other relatives from the hyderabad/secunderabad area, but unfortunately i could not follow much of the urdu conversation. i definitely got the impression that tea with salt was considered very weird and foreign :) i dunno, i thought it was okay at the time and i'd like to try it again.

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    You should try, if you haven't already, the Tibetan tea with yak butter and sometimes with tsampa flour too. The yak butter tastes a lot like a blue cheese. The trick is not to think of it as tea but as a fortifying soup; if you do that it's delicious!

                                    1. re: Brian S

                                      never had the tibetan tea. i suppose i could attempt to make it-- i know a few yak farmers so i could arrange for yak butter and try it. what type of tea leaf would you use for the correct taste? also, what is tsampa flour? i don't think i'm familiar with that--does it thicken liquids like wheat flour? tia.

                            2. I've been adding salt to the grounds since I was old enough to drink coffee. Never tried it in the actual brew though.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dakota4real

                                This is an old southern secret that has been in families for hundreds of years. It can bring out a level of flavour that is unsurpassed.

                              2. The problem is that salt does not improve the flavor enough to merit the possibility of hypertension. When you're young and full of piss and vinegar (or salt and coffee) this does seem real but, trust me, it can be a reality later on.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: spm

                                  Coffee to die for? No, since I'm guessing people add less than 50 mg of salt per cup.

                                2. I've been adding salt to my grounds for 20 years at least. I think the salt helps to buffer the acidity in the brew making the flavor of the coffee stand out. Starbucks can be so bitter and the salt helps enourmously.

                                  1. Salt not only adds flavor, it removes bitterness. That seems to be the principle here. I heard that on a story several years ago, and always remembered it. I found that a couple grains can do the trick.

                                    That also explains its use with grapefruit and others.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Steve Simpson

                                      nothing better then smell of campfire smoke, fresh boiled coffee with pinch of salt and egg shells when the sun is coming up. I feel sorry for you New York City folks when the Food Police came banging on your door for salted coffee.

                                    2. I use a dash of table salt in strong or bitter coffe (as in Satrbucks) to cut the bitterness/acidy taste. I never use it in weak brew (Dunkin Donuts).

                                      At home, If I make a pot for guest I use a pinch of salt in the grfounds. For myself (the only coffee drinker in the house) I use a Keurig, so I add a dash of salt to the cup if making a French Roast or other strong blend.

                                      I also add a dash of salt to Expresso, along wioth the lemon peel. I was taught to do this more than 454 years ago when I was given my first cup of expresso by an *% year old Italian Tailor who worked fro my father and grewed it in the shop.

                                      1. Salt -- on the grinds -- is what I use if I'm forced to use inferior coffee for one reason or another. I don't think I'd actually put the salt into my coffee cup, however.

                                        Usually, I'm making coffee at home or at work and I have good coffee there so I don't add the salt.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: shaogo

                                          If I recall, salt is a base, and therefore acts to balance out the acidity of the coffee, making it taste more mellow.

                                        2. Next time I order McD's coffee I'll pick up a little salt packet and try this.

                                          The instant coffee I use sometimes at home is a brand produced in Germany and tastes salty compared to US brands.