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Why Your Coffee Tastes Salty

Have you recently tasted salt in your coffee and wondered why your coffee tastes like this?

Perhaps you’re not the kind of coffee drinker who likes adding a pinch of salt to coffee, but there you are, your coffee tastes salty!

You wonder what might be wrong with a brew.

It is common for coffee to taste salty only if you use salted water to make it.

But other factors contribute to this salty taste that other people can’t stand.

Your coffee may taste salty if you’ve decided to add salt to your coffee.

Some people believe that adding salt to coffee reduces the coffee’s bitter taste.

Some coffee drinkers even believe that adding salt brings out pleasant aromas. 

Another reason your coffee tastes salty is that your machine may be faulty, or you didn’t use sufficient water when brewing your coffee.

Whatever the cause of the salty cup of coffee is, drinking a cup of salty coffee can be unpleasant.

What Causes Coffee to Taste Salty 

Let’s examine each cause of the salty taste and suggest some tips for fixing it.

1. Your Water Is Salty

Water is one of the essentials you will need to make a cup of tasty coffee.

So the water quality that you use will play a significant role in how your coffee tastes.

Tap water can be salty for various reasons.

For instance, your water may have a high chloride ions or sulfates concentration.

In this case, it will have a salty aftertaste when you drink it, or even when you make a cup of coffee.

Other common causes of salt in water include seawater intrusions or salt deposits in the ground. 

Or, if you live in a place with hard water and have a whole house water softener, then the salt in the water softener makes your water a bit salty.

Quick Solution: Try adding milk to your coffee and taste it; if you can still taste salt, perhaps you should consider using purified water to brew your coffee. 

Personally, I just buy those one-gallon jugs of distilled water to use when I make coffee, that way I know that I’m using good, salt-free water.

2. The coffee was under-extracted.  

Another common cause of a salty taste in coffee is the under extraction of coffee beans.

What is under-extracted coffee?

Generally, your coffee will be under-extracted when you don’t extract enough flavor out of your coffee bean, aka it did not brew long enough.

Keep in mind that how the machine dissolves and removes the flavor impacts how your cup of coffee will taste.

Put it differently, not all the delicious flavors of your coffee have been distracted from the beans during the brewing process.

Not even your worst enemy deserves such a cup of coffee.

If you over-extract your coffee beans during brewing, you will have a bland cup of coffee.

Whereas if you under extract it, you’ll get a salty coffee. 

Quick Solution: The quick way to fix this problem is by using more hot water and brewing your coffee longer. 

3. Your coffee is salty because you added salt

Did you add some salt to your coffee?

Salt comes in handy to neutralize bitterness in your coffee and improves stale water.

But you should know how to measure it correctly.

Adding too much salt to your coffee can ruin the taste.

Whereas adding more than a pinch of salt to your coffee can also leave it with that salty taste. 

Quick Solution: Only a pinch of salt is suitable for your coffee; anything more than that will ruin the flavor. Pour at least 1/8 teaspoon into your coffee ground. 

How to Fix an Under Extracted Cup of Coffee

If you think that your problem with salty coffee is the result of the coffee being under-extracted, then there are a few steps that you can take for something more than the quick solution offered up above.

1. Try using more water

Assuming that you’re using a drip coffee maker, there is a good chance that you’re just not putting enough water in the reservoir to properly extract the coffee.

So, adding more water when brewing a pot of coffee often works.

This is because the initial coffee that brews into the pot is from water that hasn’t had much time to really brew, which means that it is under-extracted.

And when you don’t have enough water, you end up with more under-extracted coffee than over-extracted coffee.

Most coffee drinkers will tell you that a good rule of thumb for a coffee to water ratio is 2:1.

That means for every one cup of water, you should be using 2 tablespoons of coffee to avoid under extraction.

While you can, of course, adjust for taste, this ratio is a good place to start.

2. Adjust the grind of your coffee beans

If you have a coffee grinder that lets you set the coarseness of the grind, then try moving it down to a finer grinder.

With a fine grind, the water has a lot of space to cover and extract that coffee compared to a coarse grind.

That means the water spends more time before flowing through the grind when it is fine, which means a longer extraction time.

3. Try a different coffee maker

It is entirely possible that the problem is your coffee maker.

Even if you’ve been using it for months, coffee makers can start malfunctioning and making bad coffee.

So, try a different coffee maker to see if that solves your salty coffee problem.

I recommend switching to pour over, if you’ve been using a drip coffee maker, because you get more control over the taste of your coffee when you make it using something like a Chemex.

Final Thoughts

Remember, not everyone purposely adds a dash of salt to coffee to enhance flavor.

Don’t just assume that adding salt will enhance flavor and add it without informing your guests.

Tasting salt in coffee for some people can be a terrible experience.

So if you’ll be serving guests, it’s always a good idea to ask them first how they would like to have taken their coffee. 

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