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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Adding Salt to Reduce Bitterness

By January 2, 2014

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Have you heard of or tried adding salt to your coffee to improve its flavor? I was introduced to the notion of adding salt to reduce bitterness in reference to dark chocolate. A certain level of bitterness is desirable in dark chocolate, as in coffee, but too much can be overwhelming. The solution? Add a little salt! The sodium ion reduces bitterness by interfering with the mechanism by which you detect a bitter flavor. You do not need to add a large amount of salt, either. Try a taste-test at home, brewing a pot of coffee with a just a pinch of salt. Feel free to post your results here.

Another chemical with a bitter flavor is quinine, which is found in tonic water and is used in glow-in-the-dark drink recipes. In addition to its antimalarial properties, quinine gives tonic water drinks their characteristic flavor.

Salt in Coffee | Glow in the Dark Ice


January 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm
(1) Cybele says:

Yes, just a pinch, if any. Because if salt makes you hypertensive, the combination of salt and coffee will send your blood pressure way up.

January 15, 2012 at 10:51 am
(2) JJ says:

Yes I have heard of this! It’s why you always asked for tea rather than coffee when travelling in Southwest Africa — farmers would put salt in their coffee. Bleh!

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