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Salt in coffee? Anybody do this?

I was flipping through the boards yesterday and came across a posting where someone mentioned it - maybe one of the "Weird things your family does" threads. Then coincidentally last night there was a Good Eats episode about using salt with desserts to make them taste better. As AB always does he explains the scientific reasoning and low and behold, to me at least, salt reacts with your tongue to eliminate or greatly reduces the ability of your tongue to "taste" bitterness.

So this morning I add a pinch to my coffee and sure enough it is nice & smooth.

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  1. Just curious: did you put sugar in with the salt or was it just the salt alone and nothing else?

    Also, did it get rid of that horrible after-taste/sockmouth that I can't stand whenever I do drink coffee (which admittedly, is not often at all)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: yfunk3

      my cappuchinos don't have aftertaste. or bitterness. yay, fresh coffee--the cheapest gourmet food ever.

    2. The salt with desserts is a commonly known tradition. Just think - chocolate with pretzels, nuts, etc. Someone once gave me these chocolate/peanut clusters with sea salt on them. Maybe the best tasting candy I've ever had.

      1. Well two things.

        Yes i put salt in my coffee, but i put it in the filter, with the ground coffee. It's a known and old trick to reduce the bitterness.

        And i took pastry classes, salt is common in all doughs, pie crusts etc... Nowadays, sweet and salty candies or chocolates are "IN" too. A nice recipe I made was dark chocolate bars with different flavoured sea salts, corse grind so you have little crystals in the chocolate.

        11 Replies
        1. re: SourberryLily

          How much salt do you put in? Say you make 4 "cups" of coffee, using 4 rounded TBS of ground coffee - how much salt would you add to the ground coffee in the filter? Do you spread it around the top? Mix it with the ground coffee? Does the coffee actually taste salty?

          Sorry for all the questions, but I hold my coffee sacred in the morning, and tend to be a purist, so adding anything to it marks a major change for me, and I just want/need to get it right at 6:30 AM.

          1. re: foreverhungry

            Oh gosh, just like a pinch for a 4 cup of coffee. I actually have a salt grinder and eyeball it, like 2 grinds, sprinkled over the coffee.

            My boyfriend notices a difference when i make it, says it's smoother, though i never told him why ;-)

            1. re: SourberryLily

              Same here. I use kosher salt over 4 Tbs of ground coffee in a French press, and it's the tiniest pinch, 1/16th of a teaspoon at most. I don't worry about coverage because I stir the grounds as I'm adding the boiled water, so it just dissolves in.

              If you can taste salt, you've used too much, but just a touch rounds off any harsher notes in the coffee.

              What I have NOT yet tried is the pinch of salt in a glass of chocolate milk as suggested in Modern Family a couple weeks ago.

          2. re: SourberryLily

            Wow, great tip. I'm going to try this tomorrow morning.

            Now I'm wondering . . .Are the restaurants I find to have superior coffee using this trick?

            1. re: SourberryLily

              I'm going to play a little bit of devils advocate here, but it's my experience, if you're drinking really good coffee it isn't bitter at all. Instant and canned coffees are very bitter.

              1. re: jhopp217

                Really good coffee (bean and roast quality) can be bitter if the place/person serving the coffee doesn't regularly clean the pot, there are accumulated oils in the equipment, or the water available is not the best. Sometimes, the cup picks up bitterness from the detergent used to wash it.

                That said, it is usually coffee served to me, not coffeee I make that may be bitter. The dash of salt corrects the problem.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  You are completely right about that. I have never cleaned a coffee pot with soap, ever. I've been told vinegar diluted with water,, but that just sounds nasty. I just run water through it once in a while.

                  1. re: jhopp217

                    I do the vinegar treatment about 2 - 3 times a year, except I use about 2 cups straight white vinegar and do a complete run-through, then run the same stuff through again. Then I'll run fresh water through, 2-3 times. When I get no vinegar whiff in the water, I'm done. This seems to work pretty well.

                    1. re: jhopp217

                      they make coffee makers black for a reason. most percolaters fill with mold and other crap.

                      buy CleanKaf if using vinegar to de-scale bothers you. But do descale--heating temp is critical.

                2. re: SourberryLily

                  Have you tried putting just a pinch of nutmeg in the coffee.. This is really good too.. Tim Hortons coffee has nutmeg in theirs. No wonder people are addicted to their coffee.. grin

                3. My late father in law did it regularly. Said it was a habit he had picked up as career Army officer.

                  1. I do this sometimes now, esp. at Starbucks where I find their roast either really bitter or burnt. A bit of salt tempers that.

                    1. If you brew freshly roasted and ground coffee, the correct way (no matter what method you use) with water at the correct temperature, you don't need to put salt, or anything else in the coffee.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: poser

                        True that! The quality and freshness of the coffee definitely makes a difference, bigger then putting salt in.

                        1. re: poser

                          I use only fresh, well-roasted beans, prepared with care in a scrupulously clean French press, in a city well-known for the tastiness of its water. And I still find that a tiny amount of salt makes a subtle but pleasant difference. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

                        2. I drink my coffee black with no sweetener. If I taste coffee (not at home) and find it bitter, I add about 1/4 pinch and it takes care of the problem.

                          If I brew coffee in a stovetop percolator (on a campfire, or the bbq grill) I salt the grounds. I don't find it necessary in electric coffee makers.

                          1. I'm going to try this next pot I make.

                            On a similar note, does anybody put egg shells in with the grounds when brewing coffee? I saw someone do this in a movie (lost to memory, but probably a noir/hardboiled detective drama from the 40s) I saw ages ago. I've never tried it, but the thought pops into my mind every couple of years, and I forget about it again before I think to try it myself.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Fydeaux

                              the eggshell trick was for the older percolators which were very inefficiant about holding grounds in the coffee basket, or direct boil methods such as Turkish coffee. With paper filter or super fine gold screen filter automatic drip coffee makers this is unnecessary as there are generally no grounds getting through the filter

                            2. Yes, a mere sprinkle of salt over the grounds will round out the flavor - no matter the roast or the freshness.

                              1 Reply
                              1. On time camping my neighbor who is Basque and grew up on a cattle ranch made up cowboy coffee. It had salt and egg shells (strained the shells out, of course). It was very good.

                                1. I had a Cuban girlfriend who always topped her coffee with a pinch of salt. Said it enhanced the flavor of her Cohiba.

                                  1. I've been using dry mustard powder to my freshly ground coffee for years as it just rounds out the flavour and makes for a better cup of coffee. Just a pinch for a pot but it works wonders.

                                    When I'm travelling and using hotel room coffee makers, I use salt instead since individual salt pkgs are readily available. For our tastes, the mustard powder seems to do a better job though.