The Science Behind Putting Salt in Your Coffee

Explore the science and potential benefits of adding a pinch of salt to your coffee. A fascinating read. Learn more now...
February 9, 2024 by
Gladys Kyule
| 1 Comment

Remember Good Eats? It was a brilliant show that sparked a cultural trend of putting salt in coffee, thanks to the host, Alton Brown, a nutritionist and food scientist on the Food Network. 

The trend, now popularly referred to as the Alton Brown Trick, sought to tame bitterness and elevate the flavor of lower-quality coffee beans. However, this ingenious idea wasn't solely Brown's creation; its roots trace back to ancient cultures like Taiwan, where sea salt has long been used in coffee recipes, adding a unique twist to the drinking experience. 

Salt in coffee isn't just a passing trend; it's a celebrated aspect of coffee culture across generations.

Why Add Salt to Coffee?

Adding salt to coffee is praised as a brilliant solution to counter the bitterness often associated with dark roasts and Robusta varieties. 

Sara Marquart, from the Coffee Excellence Center, explains that salt effectively diminishes bitterness while enhancing the natural sweetness of coffee. 

In an interview with Tasmin Grant of The Perfect Grind, Sarah notes that:

Addition of salt in coffee dampens bitterness and that salt naturally brings out the sweetness of coffee. It offers a budget-friendly alternative to traditional additives like milk or sugar.​ - Sara Marquart

This technique caters to those with a discerning palate, seeking a well-balanced cup without compromising flavor.

Dare to elevate your coffee routine with this flavorful tradition! Subscribe to Solai Coffee Beans today.

How Much Salt to Put in Coffee? 

The question arises: How much salt should one add to their coffee? When is that ideal or necessary? 

These two questions remain a debate among coffee enthusiasts. 

Some, like David Jameson from Bewley's Tea and Coffee, prefer adding salt at the final stage to control its dosage precisely. Others advocate for preparing a saline solution to achieve optimal results.

It is advisable to brew drip coffee and assess its bitterness before adding salt to achieve the perfect flavor and taste profile. - David Jameson

Regardless of the method, a pinch of salt, carefully measured (about 0.5g), can transform a brew, enriching its sweetness and diminishing bitterness.

Does Salt in Coffee Reduce Acidity?

Yes, salt in coffee can reduce acidity. Beyond enhancing flavor, salt is a natural buffer to acidity in coffee. 

While caffeine contributes to bitterness, other compounds like phenylindanes and chlorogenic acid lactones released during roasting contribute to acidity.


Salt helps smooth out the taste of coffee, making it more palatable, especially for individuals with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux.

Health Benefits Beyond Taste

Adding salt to coffee offers notable health benefits beyond its culinary appeal. 

  • It reduces acidity, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive stomachs. 
  • Salt in coffee masks the taste of stale beans, elevating the quality of the brew.
  • The replenishment of essential sodium compounds supports overall well-being and maintains hydration and electrolyte balance in the body.


Adding salt to coffee isn't merely a social media trend; it's a time-honored tradition with tangible benefits for coffee enthusiasts.

Whether seeking to refine flavor, reduce bitterness, or enhance health benefits, embracing this practice adds depth to the coffee-drinking experience. This method is particularly beneficial for improving the taste of low-quality coffee without additional additives.

In Taiwanese culture, serving sea salt coffee holds special significance, symbolizing traditions passed down through generations.

FAQ About Adding Salt To Coffee

Salt acts as a natural flavor enhancer by dampening bitterness and bringing out the sweetness of the coffee. It can also mask the taste of stale coffee beans and improve the flavor profile, creating a more balanced and enjoyable drinking experience.

The amount of salt added to coffee is a matter of personal preference. Generally, a pinch of salt (about 0.5 grams) per cup of coffee is a good starting point.

Some prefer to add salt directly to the brewed coffee, while others recommend adding it during brewing. Experiment to find what works best for you and your desired flavor profile.

Yes, you can add salt to any coffee. The key is to adjust the amount of salt based on the coffee's flavor profile and your preferences.

Phenylindanes are a class of compounds produced during the roasting process of coffee beans. They result from chemical reactions between carbohydrates and amino acids, contributing to coffee bitterness and flavor.

Your Dynamic Snippet will be displayed here... This message is displayed because you did not provided both a filter and a template to use.
Gladys Kyule February 9, 2024
Share this post
Previous blogs
Sign in to leave a comment