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Most people like to put a little sugar, milk or cream in their morning’s cup of joe, but what about adding salt to coffee? What! ? Are you serious?
As odd as it may sound, seasoning your coffee does have some unexpected benefits.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of adding salt to coffee, and why you should do it.
Here’s why you should do it…
1. It reduces bitterness
A study from the Technical University of Munich looking into what makes coffee bitter found, contrary to popular belief, caffeine is not the main reason coffee is bitter.
In fact, they found that caffeine only accounts for 15 percent of the bitterness in coffee and there were numerous compounds that orchestrate coffee’s bitterness.
The main culprits were chlorogenic acid, lactones and phenylindanes, anti-oxidants. These compounds are found in roasted coffee beans, and the longer the coffee is roasted for the more these are present.
What the researchers found was that bitterness, rather than setting off the normal receptors on a person’s tongue, instead sends a specific signal to your brain to say something is bitter.
However, when salt is added to the coffee it blocks the signal from being sent, stopping your brain from identifying it as bitter.
So by adding salt, the flavor of the coffee is enhanced while the bitterness is cut out.
2. It can help hide bad brewing habits
Making a good cup of coffee is a delicate art. It is not just a case of finding the best ingredients and chucking it in a pot. Though having a good coffee machine can help, it is still possible to ruin even the most delicate roast through bad brewing habits.
If you ever wondered why your coffee keeps coming out tasting like boiled engine oil you may have some of the following bad brewing habits.
You are using boiling water. Coffee should be brewed with hot water ideally at a temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are using an electric kettle a good rule of thumb is to wait at least four seconds after the kettle turns off before pouring the water. Also never heat water in a microwave.
You are using poor quality beans. You can’t make a good cup of coffee with cheap beans. It is always worth paying a little extra for a much better cup of coffee.
You are using too much coffee. For drip feed coffee machines a good ratio is 1 teaspoon of coffee to each oz of water. So for a single cup of coffee, you would want to use 6oz of water and 6 teaspoons of coffee.
If you are making instant coffee a single teaspoon for each cup of water will suffice.
You need to clean your coffee machine. Coffee is a very delicate taste and can easily be affected by contaminants. If your coffee has started tasting off it might be time to scrub your coffee-making equipment.
You are over brewing your coffee. The longer you leave your coffee to steep the more bitter it is.
Adding salt to ‘bad coffee can reduce the effects of the above, however, ideally, you want to try and make the best cup of coffee you can in the first place.
How to add salt to coffee
Putting salt in coffee was popularized by Good Eats founder, celebrity-chef Alton Brown.
In a 2009 episode of his show, Brown suggested adding a pinch of salt to a cup of coffee could neutralize the bitterness.
Brown recommends adding a quarter of a teaspoon of kosher salt to six tablespoons of coffee grounds before brewing to neutralize the bitterness and acidity of the coffee and enhance its inherent sweetness.
As Brown himself said on his Facebook page in 2015: “Salt and Coffee: Not only does salt cut the bitterness of coffee, but it also smooths out the “stale” taste of tank-stored water. I’ve taken to adding a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt to every six tablespoons of grounds.
That isn’t enough to taste, but it’ll do the trick. And by the way, research has proven that salt is actually better at neutralizing bitterness than sugar.”
Though the ‘Alton Brown trick’ is the most popular way to add salt to coffee, there are no specific rules for adding salt to coffee.
You can add it before brewing or a tiny pinch to a mug of already brewed coffee to balance out the flavors or cut the bitterness from a badly brewed mug of coffee. Just be sure not to put too much salt in or it will end up tasting like seawater.
It can reduce acid reflux
If the coffee you are drinking is giving you heartburn or acid reflux you should think about changing the kind of coffee you are drinking.
Light to medium roasts have a higher acid content than darker roasts, while low quality, cheap coffee also tends to have a higher acid content than better quality beans. Switching to a good quality arabica bean-based dark roast will probably solve your problems.
However, if you are stuck with an overly bitter and acidic cup of bad coffee adding a pinch of salt can help quell the inevitable heartburn and reflux.
Other Health Benefits
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and contains nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.
It also improves your energy levels and can help you burn fat.
However, adding sugar and syrup to your coffee negates these health benefits by filling it with empty calories. By adding salt instead of sugar you can keep to your diet while enjoying a welcome cup of rocket fuel.
Salt in coffee also helps your body to replenish the sodium your body loses when you drink coffee in the first place.
Adding Salt to Coffee? Should you do it?
It depends. A properly brewed, high-quality coffee tastes great, and will only be slightly bitter in a way that enhances its flavor and richness. It does not need sugar or salt to make it palatable.
But if you are presented with a cup of coffee that makes you screw up your face and suck on your tongue, add a pinch of salt. It can make it drinkable by smoothing out the flavor and cutting out the acidity and bitterness. Just don’t overdo it.
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