Research, Technology

Why a pinch of salt can make coffee taste better

We often add sugar, milk orcream, which makes its taste even more pleasant. But there is another, less obvious ingredient that can also make coffee taste better - a small pinch of salt. It may seem that coffee is incompatible with salt, especially if sugar is added to it, but we are talking about a very small amount of it. Salt in this case smooths out the “rough” and “bitter” notes of coffee, while revealing other tastes that are usually simply not felt or very weak. If you think that this is just another useless advice based on self-hypnosis, then you are mistaken. In fact, there is a scientific explanation for this action.

Salt can make coffee taste better

How salt affects the taste of coffee

Table salt, or sodium chloride, is used incooking throughout the world for almost the entire history of mankind. It not only makes foods salty, but also enhances their flavor. That is, salt, in fact, is a natural flavor enhancer. In addition, as we said above, it suppresses the perception of bitterness. For example, salt is often used to subdue the bitterness of Brussels sprouts. Previously, in the same way they got rid of bitterness in eggplants, until breeders removed bitterness from them.

It is the suppression of bitterness that allows betterto open up to other tastes, for example, sweets. But how does this happen? Science has long disproved the tongue map theory, according to which different parts of the tongue are responsible for different tastes. However, there are receptors in the tongue that are sensitive to certain types of tastes, just as our noses have receptors that are sensitive to certain smells, as we discussed in the article on the effects of strong odors on the sense of smell.

Salt kills bitterness from roasted coffee beans

The salt receptor in the mouth is calledepithelial sodium channel, or ENaC. Bitter tastes are perceived by other receptors known as TAS2R. Exactly how salt suppresses the work of TAS2R receptors is not completely known, but that it does this is beyond doubt. This was first proven in a 1995 study.

However, bitterness suppression only works whenlow salt content. A 2013 study showed that at high concentrations, the receptors that are responsible for the perception of sour and bitter tastes begin to work more actively. Therefore, salted foods do not seem tasty, not only because of the strong taste of salt.

As a result of roasting coffee, compounds are formed in it that have a bitter taste.

Where does bitterness come from in coffee?

Bitterness occurs in coffee as a result of roasting.grains. During the heat treatment, compounds known as chlorogenic acid lactones appear. With stronger heat treatment, chlorogenic acid decomposes, resulting in the formation of phenylindanes. All of these compounds have a characteristic bitter taste.

I must say that the tradition of getting rid of thisbitterness by adding salt to coffee exists in different countries of the world. For example, in Vietnam it is customary to add salt along with condensed milk, which allows you to get a delicious caramel drink. In Sweden, a little salty cheese is added to coffee, and sometimes even salted meat.

United States Navy during World War IIdiscovered the ability of salt to improve the taste of coffee quite by accident. The desalination equipment they used wasn't doing the job perfectly, resulting in the water still being slightly salty. At the same time, the military noticed that coffee with such water has a more pleasant taste.

Salt brings out flavors not normally found in coffee.

Of course, the presence of bitterness in coffee to many, on the contrarylike. Therefore, it is up to you to add salt or not. But, keep in mind that this opportunity can be used if the grains are very overcooked.

How much salt to add to coffee

When adding salt to coffee, the most important thing is not tooverdo it, otherwise the drink will be spoiled. The salt itself should not be felt. As practice shows, salt on the tip of a knife is enough for a cup of coffee. However, keep in mind that everyone's taste is different, so it's best to experiment a bit to find the best coffee recipe for you.

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If you need to limit yourself tosalt intake, but at the same time you do not like bitter coffee, add milk to your drink. It also does a good job of removing bitterness. In addition, coffee with milk, as recently found out, is much healthier. We also talked about this recently.