The history of people adding salt to their coffee dates back hundreds of years, and today more coffee enthusiasts than ever are adding a pinch of salt to their morning cup of joe.
In this article, we will take a closer look at why adding salt in coffee has been a common practice for hundreds of years, as well as the science behind how it cuts the taste of acidity in some circumstances. We will also explore the proper salt-to-coffee ratio, as well as some of the most popular salted coffee drinks on the market today.
History of Salt in Coffee
Salt has been used by humans for centuries to enhance the flavor of just about everything, and coffee is no exception. There is evidence of countries located close to the sea using saltwater to reduce the bitterness associated with lower-quality coffee beans.
People everywhere from Hungary to Vietnam have used salt to enhance their coffee for years, and it is thought that the practice started out of necessity. Civilizations that were located near bodies of saltwater have long taken advantage of the purification benefits of drinking brackish water, which is located slightly inland and contains a light concentration of salinity.
The resurgence of salt used in western countries over the past decade can largely be attributed to the food influencer Aton Brown, who famously recommended adding a bit of salt to coffee in order to “knock off some of the bitter edge.”
Salt in Coffee Benefits
The primary reason that people add salt to their coffee is to balance the taste profile and enhance its flavor. The general consensus is that salt in coffee helps to reduce acidity and perceived bitterness, which allows the palate to focus on the more subtle tasting profiles of the coffee bean.
Adding salt to coffee is helpful for just about every style of coffee, as it helps bring out the natural flavors of the Arabica bean while helping to “balance out” some of the more aggressive acidity associated with Robusta beans.
Many people also claim that there are extensive health benefits associated with adding salt to coffee on a daily basis, though these claims have been refuted by others.
One of the most common theories is that adding a moderate amount of salt to any morning beverage like coffee or tea helps the body retain more water throughout the day, which aids with dehydration.
There are also a number of different health benefits associated with more “premium” salts like pink Himalayan varieties, due to elevated mineral contents. Some people prefer to add salt to coffee grounds before brewing, while others find it easier and more efficient to add it directly to a finished cup of coffee.
Salt to Coffee Ratio
While there is no agreed-upon “correct” amount of salt when it comes to combining with coffee, one of the most trusted names in the food and beverage space has set a major trend. Alton Brown uses a ratio of one-quarter teaspoon of kosher salt for every six tablespoons of coffee grounds, and many coffee enthusiasts have followed suit.
There are also many people who do not precisely measure the amount of salt that they add to their daily cups of coffee. In fact, the majority of coffee enthusiasts who claim to add salt to their coffee regularly report that they simply add a “pinch” or small shake of salt to their coffee mugs.
Another popular trick for cutting the bitterness in coffee is to add coarse salt directly to coffee grounds. This allows it to dissipate and incorporate fully into the coffee while brewing, allowing for a balanced and clean-tasting profile.
The Alton Brown ratio of one-quarter teaspoon of coffee for every six tablespoons of coffee grounds is recommended for this method as well.
Most Popular Salted Coffees
In many cases, salt is used to enhance the natural flavors of coffee beans and “blend in” to the cup of coffee. In others, it is a featured ingredient that is showcased proudly, and drinks like the salted caramel latte have become extremely famous at large coffee chains like Starbucks.
One of the most unique recipes that use salt and coffee is a combination of cold brew coffee and whipped salted cream called Taiwanese sea salt coffee. This is a very popular recipe across internet blogs and sees a surge in popularity every few months due to social media recipe posts.
There are a number of different espresso-based drinks that can also benefit from the flavor-balancing aspects of salt, including cappuccinos and macchiatos. The salted caramel latte is perhaps the most iconic coffee drink that features salt, and it can be made at home as well as purchased at major coffee chains.
Salt In Coffee – Final Thoughts
While people have been adding salt to coffee for hundreds of years, the practice has seen a significant resurgence in popularity over the past few decades for both flavor and health reasons.
High-profile food and beverage influencers like Alton Brown have made many more people aware of the fact that adding salt to coffee is a great way to balance acidity and boost flavor, and everything from kosher to pink himalayan salt is used today.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you regularly add salt to your coffee, and be sure to let other coffee enthusiasts know which ratio of salt to coffee works best in your experience!