Sometimes a pinch of salt is added to a cup of coffee - but why?

Is this only done for low-quality or mediocre coffee? When is the best time during the coffee-making process to do this?


3 Answers 3


I'm not a coffee drinker, so can't comment on the timing -- but it's due to salt's effect of masking bitterness.


This is common practice in places like Ethiopia, where it is used (much like Americans use sugar) to cut the bitterness. This is a longstanding cultural practice (they domesticated it, so I figure they probably know better than we do), in an area where sugar was not readily available. In this situation, it is added just prior to drinking.

  • 4
    In my experience, sugar does absolutely nothing for coffee's bitterness; you have to add milk or cream to have any hope of producing a drinkable liquid. But maybe I'm just strange. :D
    – Marti
    Apr 26, 2012 at 22:31
  • You could allways switch to drinking tea if you don't like the taste of coffee. Kind of like complaining about sugar tasting sweet, and you want to reduce its sweetness.
    – Chad
    Apr 27, 2012 at 5:03

The question, and the answers have astonished me. In Spain, the combination of coffee and salt is a popular "recipe" for provoking vomit to sober up; popular but wrong and even dangerous in cases of heavy intoxications.

  • 2
    It's likely a difference in the amount of salt ... for what KatieK is asking about, it's only a pinch, not a large proportion. See the comment from Neil Fein in this answer : cooking.stackexchange.com/a/7512/67
    – Joe
    Apr 27, 2012 at 11:34

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