We all know salt is a flavor enhancer: it can enhance sweetness and other flavors. But it also mitigates bitterness, which is a part of the coffee experience. Now, part of what many of us love about coffee’s complex flavor is the right kind of bitterness; that which is balanced by its other characteristics like sweetness and acidity.
Salt can be an additive to coffee, much like milk or sugar, and it’s common in many countries. We add things to our coffee to produce a certain flavor that we like. Those additives alter the essential experience of the coffee itself. What we mean by that is that by adding anything to your coffee, it can be more difficult to perceive some of the subtler flavors that come from its terroir or how it was processed.
We are all individuals with differing palates. Some of us are drawn to bitterness. Some of us have an indomitable sweet tooth. Some of us love all things salty and some recoil at the smallest bit of salt. (If you’re among the latter, this idea is not for you. 😊)
But even if you’re one of the people whose tastebuds appreciate bitterness (e.g., people who love dark chocolate, grapefruit, hops, Brussels sprouts and other brassicas), you probably like a balanced bitterness. So, when that balance is off, a little (and we mean a tiny amount) of salt in your coffee could make a difference.
We don’t recommend putting salt directly into your coffee cup or mixing it in with grounds – both of these methods are too inexact.
If you’d like to see what salt does to your cuppa joe, make a 20% saline solution (200g salt in 800g water). We know you have a scale for measuring your coffee anyway, right? Then, ideally, you can add that saline to your coffee by weight. Experiment with different amounts (starting very small) and see what you like. Or find out that it’s not for you at all.