Should I put Salt In my Coffee?
It is a time-old tradition, but it may be the first time you read of this. Salt is an additive to our meals and is a condiment that has become part of our everyday lives. When it comes to our morning beverages: Should I be putting Salt In my Coffee?
The answer is simple: Hopefully not, but maybe. Salt is an additive that reduces bitterness. If your coffee is too bitter, adding salt to it will reduce the bitterness. Salt will not change the flavour of the coffee. It will simply reduce bitterness and sharpen the texture of your morning coffee.
When it comes to salt and bitterness one of the major tests conducted, is against caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee and does contribute to its bitterness. Salt is often added to reduce or mitigate the bitterness. Salt is also a perfect additive to amplify sweetness. So, when it comes to bitterness, how does salt play a role?
Salt and Taste
The scientific formula for salt is NaCl. It is a condiment that has become part of our everyday lives. Salt is considered one of the basic 5 tastes. These tastes are…
- Unami – or Savoury taste
Your tongue has millions of tiny taste receptors – these are commonly known as taste buds. When you taste salt, what your taste buds are generally doing is detecting sodium (salt) ions crossing a membrane. While this is taking place, your taste buds can experience synergistic effects.
- Adding Salt can amplify sweetness.
- Salt can mitigate the bitterness.
Sodium Chloride plays a major role in coffee when it comes to mitigating bitterness.
Salt and Coffee
When salt its added it impacts all kinds of bitterness. Coffee itself has a ‘good’ bitterness taste, like beer or dark chocolate. This gives us the taste we commonly know as coffee. Bitterness at times can be pleasant when it is balanced with sweetness and boldness.
Salt should be considered as an additive like sugar, milk, or cream. It is important to note that any additive will change the true taste of the coffee. By adding other ingredients to black coffee, the accents, aromatic components, hints of flavour and texture changes. The coffee drinker will not be able to determine the origin of the coffee bean, nor its complex journey from bean to cup.
Adding Salt to coffee will reduce the bitterness but it will not change the flavour of the coffee. Salt detection is not universal, what my detection or perception of a ‘salty’ taste will be different to others. So how much salt should I add to my coffee?
Adding Salt to Coffee
Adding salt to Coffee that is ‘burnt’, over-extracted or over-brewed will have little effect. Burnt coffee is known to be more bitter than usual. Generally, you can add a bit of salt to change the astringency of coffee. However, when the beverage is burnt, adding salt will have little to no effect.
Another recommendation would be to place the salt in with the ground coffee ‘before’ extraction. This is perceived to taste ‘better’ than when adding it as a coffee additive like sugar or cream. (additive – a component added after the coffee is brewed). This makes it tough to regulate the salt taste as each person’s taste is different. If a perfect recipe is found, this makes sense adding salt before the brewing process to bulk brew coffee. It can be added too before an espresso extraction.
The best option would be to add salt as an additive. To do this, its best to make saline (water-based) salt solution. Mix salt to water in a 1:5 ratio (1-part salt: 5-parts water). This has been found to be the best method so as not to add too much salt to your coffee.
How much salt Should I Add to Coffee?
In an experiment conducted, 0,5 grams of salt was added to 200ml of black coffee. Although it was said to have reduced bitterness, the coffee had a slight ‘saltwater mouth’ feel. After more experiments conducted, it was concluded that the best ration would be 0.2g of salt to 200ml of coffee.
When measuring out the amount of salt always consider its mass. This is important because a ‘pinch’ of table salt will differ from a pinch of kosher salt or sea salt. A pinch of course salt will differ to a pinch of table salt. Therefore, always use mass when measuring salt. 1 gram of table salt will be 1 gram of sea salt.
The same experiment was conducted with standard Nescafe instant coffee. This cheap instant coffee is renown for its bitterness. Adding 0.2g of salt gave the bitter-tasting, harsh coffee, a smoother texture, and lighter taste. There is magic in salt when it comes to mitigating bitterness. Table salt would be perfect for this experiment as it works out to be very cost-effective. Salt is salt at the end of the day.
What is noteworthy is that the flavour of the coffee did not change. The bitterness and texture changed. The perfect balance was 0.2g for every 200ml of coffee. Adding more salt to the amount of coffee will saturate the beverage and give it a ‘saltwater mouth’ feel.
Should I put Salt In my Coffee? The answer is simple: Hopefully not, but maybe.
Hopefully Not – you should not be drinking coffee to begin with. Bitter coffee is associated with cheaper coffees that have contain Robusta beans in them.
But maybe – If you are drinking bitter coffee, perhaps you are working remotely can cannot find your favourite blend, adding salt may be the solution for you.
Salt is an additive that reduces bitterness. If your coffee is to bitter, adding salt to it will reduce the bitterness. Salt will not change the flavour of coffee. It will simply reduce bitterness and sharpen the texture of your morning coffee.
Be sure to mix salt into water to create a saline solution before adding it to your coffee. Do not be heavy handed with your salt and make sure to measure the doses by weight. Cheap table salt works out the most cost effective.
Adding Salt to your morning beverage can work for some people but it is not for everyone as each person taste buds differ. This is an age-old method, adding salt to coffee. Be bold when experimenting with adding salt to your beverage and leave your comments below, to tell us about your findings.
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