Science, Tech, Math › Science Does Salt in Coffee Reduce Bitterness? Why adding salt makes coffee taste less bitter Share Flipboard Email Print Add a few grains of salt to make coffee taste less bitter. Wolfgang Moucha / EyeEm / Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated September 04, 2019 You may have heard putting salt in coffee makes it taste better, potentially making bad coffee palatable. Is it true? From a biochemical perspective, adding a small amount of salt to coffee does make it less bitter. In some countries, it's traditional to prepare coffee using brackish water or to add a small amount of salt to the water used to brew the coffee. The reason given is that adding the salt improves the flavor of the coffee. As it turns out, there is a chemical basis for this practice. The Na+ ion diminishes bitterness by interfering with the transduction mechanism of that taste. The effect occurs below the level at which the salty taste would be registered. How to Prepare Coffee Using Salt You only need a trace amount of salt to counteract bitterness in coffee. You can add a pinch of coffee to grounds before brewing. If you're the type of person who wants measurements, start with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt per 6 tablespoons of ground coffee. If you get a horrible-tasting cup of coffee, you can add a few grains of salt to it to try to fix it up. Other Ways to Reduce Coffee Bitterness You can cover some bitterness by adding sugar to coffee.Another tip is to avoid overheating coffee. If coffee sits on a burner for a long time, heat breaks down some of the molecules, leading to a burnt and bitter flavor. Sources Breslin, P. A. S; Beauchamp, G.K. “Suppression of Bitterness by Sodium: Variation Among Bitter Taste Stimuli.” Chemical Senses 1995, 20, 609-623.Breslin, P. A. S; Beauchamp, G.K. “Salt enhances flavor by suppressing bitterness.” Nature 1997 (387), 563.Breslin, P. A. S “Interactions among salty, sour and bitter compounds.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 1996 (7), 390.