Want to amp up your cup of cheap java? Just add salt. No, seriously.Recently, coffee lovers have become privy to a “hack” that makes cheap coffee more palatable by adding a pinch of salt. But should you actually add salt to your coffee routine? According to a YouTube video on the topic by coffee expert James Hoffman, the answer is “hopefully not, but maybe.” Let’s explain.
Salt is considered one of five basic tastes, along with sour, sweet, bitter and umami. These five tastes can interact, meaning saltiness can amplify sweetness and also mitigate bitterness, according to Hoffmann.
If you are drinking coffee that is brewed properly and is of a good quality, then you probably don’t need to add salt to your cup.
“One of the pleasures of coffee is that when it’s good, it has the right kind of bitterness, much like beer or chocolate,” Hoffmann says in the video. “Some bitterness is very pleasant when it’s balanced out properly by sweetness and some acidity. Overall, it’s a complex and enjoyable thing.”
But if you find yourself with a bitter cup of coffee, either extracted improperly or created from a cheap ground, then salt might be the solution to making your cup more palatable.
“We should consider salt to be an addition, like milk or cream or sugar,” Hoffmann says. “It might make the drink more palatable, but it will change it. It will obscure the truth of it, in a way.”
If you improperly brew coffee or just use the cheap stuff (it’s OK, it happens), then adding salt to your cup could help mitigate the bitterness. We all have different salt thresholds, according to Hoffmann, so adding salt to you coffee is a personal thing, much like adding sugar or cream. But Hoffmann advises you need a delicate hand no matter your threshold.
In his YouTube video, Hoffman tests the salt-in-coffee theory using an over-extracted coffee, which is coffee brewed with too fine of a ground for too long. When trying the coffee without salt, Hoffmann finds it harsh and “not great.” The coffee expert then puts .1 grams of salt in 200 milliliters of coffee, which he says is better but noticeably salty to him.
Hoffmann then tries the process with a super inexpensive, instant coffee, hoping to add salt to make it “good” without getting too salty — if that’s even possible for instant coffee.
“These smell really bad,” Hoffmann says of the freshly brewed cups. “Really bad.”
After gauging his “pain threshold” with an un-dosed cup, Hoffman tries .3 grams of salt in 200 milliliters of coffee. And it is better, but not perfect. So he decides to does it up more, taking it up to .6 grams and then even a little further.
“That’s pretty magical, actually,” he says of the salt addition. Hoffmann says salt improved bitterness and mouth-feel of the coffee, though the unimpressive flavor remains the same.
To add salt to your coffee, Hoffmann recommends making a salt solution with 20 percent table salt and 80 percent water rather than adding a pinch of salt. That way you can track dosing with more accuracy, and get your perfect cup without making it too salty.
To nerd out over coffee, watch the video below:
Sign up to the Men's Health newsletter and kickstart your home body plan. Make positive steps to become healthier and mentally strong with all the best fitness, muscle-building and nutrition advice delivered to your inbox.
For effective home workouts, uplifting stories, easy recipes and advice you can trust, subscribe to Men's Health UK today
You Might Also Like