If you add salt to your coffee it reduces the bitterness that is present. Salt in coffee works best with instant coffee because the lower the quality of coffee the more bitter it is and the more benefit you get from adding salt.
Does salt make coffee taste better?
Coffee aside, if you think about it, as a general rule salt added to many different types of food significantly enhances the flavour.
How many times have you seen Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver prepare a dish and as part of the preparation it includes “season with salt”?
It’s because lots of food is very bland and without seasoning, with salt it would be flavourless and boring.
Salt is one of just a handful of things that make up the way that we taste everything.
Other than salt we can taste sweet things (why most of us love chocolate and sugary based things), sour things, bitter things and a few others.
Salt is key to many things we consume and you will often find a lot of it in things like ready meals and meals in fast-food restaurants because it’s very cheap and it makes things taste better.
It’s one of the main reasons why cooking your own meals from fresh is better because it allows you to control the amount of salt you add making sure you don’t go overboard.
Salt has a range of different effects on different types of food. It can help to make sweet things taste better which is why you will often find salt in good quality chocolate.
It can also help to reduce bitterness and cheap coffee can be very bitter so there are definitely benefits to adding it to coffee as long as you do it properly.
Caffeine is one of the main ingredients found in coffee and is one of the main reasons that a lot of people drink coffee in the first place because it’s a well known mental stimulant and it gets you going in the morning.
Caffeine is also well known for its bitterness and low-quality coffee gets dark roasted and dark roast coffee tends to have more caffeine and is more likely to be bitter so using a very small amount of salt can help to offset that bitterness and improve the flavour.
You don’t need to worry about the amount of salt you add to your coffee as part of your daily intake because the amount you need to make a difference to your coffee flavour is tiny.
How much salt should you add to coffee?
The short answer is a very small amount. It’s really important to add a very small amount because if you don’t then you will immediately overpower the coffee and it will just taste of saltiness and nastiness which you want to avoid at all costs.
A common measurement of salt mainly due to food recipes is “a pinch of salt”
This is ok when it comes to adding salt to a food recipe with multiple ingredients but must be avoided at all costs when it comes to adding salt to coffee.
A “pinch” is completely different depending on how big or small your fingers are and for coffee you need much less than a pinch for it to have the desired effect.
The amount of salt you need to make a difference is so small that what you need to do is dilute some salt in water to create a saltwater solution and put it in a very small bottle and mix it up so you have a weak salt solution.
Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to 100ml of water and stir before adding to the small bottle that dispenses the solution drop by drop.
If you don’t have one of those then you get the idea. The amount you are adding is on a drop by drop basis so if you can’t dispense it into your coffee in that way put a very small amount of the solution onto a teaspoon and start there.
To be precise you want to be adding about 0.1g of salt to a 200ml cup of coffee which is about 3 drops of the solution.
Give it a good stir and prepare to be surprised at how much of the bitterness gets removes and how improved the flavour is.
Everyone has a different tolerance and perception to the impact of salt in anything which is why some people like a lot of salt on their fish and chips and other people prefer less.
Coffee is no different so if you start with 3 drops of the solution and then add a few more drops if it doesn’t do it for you straight away.
You can always add more but you can’t take it out once it’s in. A small amount of experimentation and you will find the sweet spot for your palette.
Adding salt to coffee is not a new thing but its far less common in the UK. Some European countries have been doing it for years to help improve the flavour of coffee.
What kind of salt should you add to coffee?
Using better quality salt will not make the slightest bit of difference to the flavour of the coffee so just buy the absolute cheapest salt there is.
Forget rock salt or sea salt or anything like that just your plain old table salt that costs pennies will do just fine.
Can you add salt and sugar to coffee?
Interestingly adding both salt and sugar to coffee doesn’t seem to work so you want to be doing either or.
Sugar also helps to add sweetness and remove bitterness but perhaps you are looking to remove some sugar from your diet so trying salt instead of sugar is well worth a try.
Or perhaps you are just looking to find a way to make your coffee taste better. Give salt a go as described above but don’t ruin it by adding too much.
How to avoid adding salt to coffee
If you currently drink instant coffee like the majority of people in the UK then you should consider an alternative because the instant coffee granules that come in a jar are the lowest quality of coffee compared to other types of coffee.
Instant coffee is so popular in the UK for 3 main reasons.
1. It’s just the way it’s always been. It was the coffee that has always been in your home for as long as you remember and so you buy it as well.
2. The supermarket mostly stocks instant coffee over pre-ground and whole coffee beans. Because that’s what you see that’s what you buy.
3. Convenience is important. No effort is required to make a cup of coffee with instant. You put the kettle on and pour it over the coffee when it’s boiled. That’s it.
Find out why drinking instant coffee is a bad idea in this article:
There are however many other convenient ways to enjoy a really good cup of coffee that requires little to no effort.
Pod coffee machine and bean to cup coffee machines require close to zero effort to make a cup of coffee that is miles better than instant because they use freshly ground coffee and they make your coffee with the press of just one button.
You can find out more about how to make great tasting coffee that does not require salt adding to remove the bitterness and enhance the flavour in these articles:
The moral of the story is that the better the coffee the less need there is to add salt to it in order to make it taste better.
Great coffee will have less bitterness and be more balanced with the correct blend of body, sweetness, acidity and aroma to form all of the great characteristics of coffee without it being overpowered with bitterness.
Here is a video from James Hoffman, World Coffee Champion and coffee expert on how best to add salt to your coffee to help make it taste better: