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If I go to make coffee and find that the coffee is a little old, I'll sprinkle a little ground cinnamon in the grounds in the basket before brewing. I won't use enough cinnamon that you can actually taste it in the coffee, but it seems to cut the acidity and bitterness.

Does anyone know why this works? Is there anything other than cinnamon I can do this with?

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Interesting...I will need to try this! –  Jenn Sep 23 '10 at 17:01
    
Fascinating. I now have hope for tomorrow's pot of coffee. –  Chris_K Sep 25 '10 at 14:35
    
Edited; Still not getting an answer as to why this works, perhaps a clearer title will bring more eyeballs? –  Neil Fein Jan 28 '11 at 23:31
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3 Answers 3

Salt works just as well, as does a pinch of dried mustard. I have absolutely no idea why.

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It's thought that these agents (also peppermint and a few other things} work by interfering with the sensory response of bitter taste buds. It actually seems to be one of the more bizarre scientific phenomena, given that salt and bitter flavours operate on completely different taste receptors. –  Aaronut Jan 29 '11 at 4:05
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From Cook's Illustrated issue 107: "Our tastebuds have many more receptors for bitterness than for the other four basic tastes [....]. Salt works to block the taste of bitter compounds, thrby enhancing other, less prominent flavors. We add salt to everything from eggplant to coffee, where we've found that adding 1/8 teaspoon to the grounds for every full (72-ounce) pot reduced the perceived bitterness." –  Neil Fein Mar 5 '11 at 18:23
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I would say that the cinnamon restores some of those floral top-notes that have likely evaporated from older ground coffee, and hides some of the mustier, oxidized flavors.

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This is a guess... Cinnamon may decrease the ion charge of the water and thus make it less of a scavenger of the ions in coffee. I soak-brew coffee without cinnamon for 60 seconds. It takes 90 seconds to achieve the same flavor with cinnamon. This is worth it because the result is smoother.

Any chemists out there that can weigh in on this concept?

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