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Forget cream or sugar: You should add salt to your coffee

Cut the bitterness of your brew with this simple trick

Two hands together holding a bunch of whole coffee beans.
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Love them or hate them, there seems to always be a new coffee trend. At the risk of sounding ancient, before Starbucks came along, people took their coffee either black or with some mixture of cream and/or sugar. That was it. There were no Fraps or triple whip extra shot, drizzle of confusion concoctions. There was coffee. Its sole purpose was to wake you up in the morning, not to act as a prop in Instagram selfies with stupid captions like, “Coffee is my love language.”

Now, there seems to be a movement happening to get back to the basics, and some people are embracing simpler pleasures. Pleasures like deliciously rich, home-brewed coffee that has no idea what a Hibiscus Refresher is.

With that said, sometimes, sometimes, coffee trends are beneficial. A piece of information comes along that doesn’t necessarily fall into the “trend” category, but is a new way to enjoy a classic. Something that actually improves coffee, and doesn’t just slap some glitter on a fancy cup. In this case, that new piece of information comes in the form of an ingredient so ordinary, one could hardly call it trendy. The new, hip trend? Adding salt to coffee.

Small coffee cup and saucer

What does salt do to your coffee?

Salt is notorious for adding flavor to food, and yes, drinks, but it does so much more than that. When added to coffee, for example, salt doesn’t make the coffee taste “salty.” In this case, it takes the bitterness from the brew, and brings out the natural sweetness of the coffee beans.

Celebrity Chef and Food Scientist, Alton Brown, featured this little trick on an episode of his show, Good Eats, back in 2009. In explaining how to make coffee less bitter, he said that you should add a half of a teaspoon of salt to every cup of water and two teaspoons of coffee grounds. Not only will this trick cut the bitterness of the brew, but it will also make the coffee’s flavor smoother and richer.

And while Brown may have been one of the first to discuss this coffee trick on TV, this tasty phenomenon is hardly a new one. In other parts of the world, such as Northern Scandinavia and Taiwan, brewing coffee with salt is as ordinary as spreading butter on toast.

So while we may be hearing a lot about salted coffee at the moment, the truth is, the secret’s been out for a while. But unlike adding olive oil or butter to your coffee, this new trend doesn’t seem to be a trend at all, but an instant classic that’s here to stay.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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