Coffee with a pinch of salt: The social media trend promises a mild taste experience – behind it is a chemical reaction.
Berlin – Again and again, new coffee creations are invented, marketed and shared on the Internet. Now a new trend is spreading on social media: According to videos on Instagram, TikTok and Co., salt should not be missing - add a small pinch to the coffee powder before cooking. This is to neutralize the bitter taste of the drink. Behind this phenomenon is actually a chemical reaction that has already been researched.
Salt in coffee: Chemical reaction makes coffee taste milder
Despite the trend, sugar in coffee is probably still far better known and more popular. The promise that salt makes coffee taste less bitter is not so new and is based on research from the 1980s, reports Die Welt. The principle behind this is simple: sodium chloride, i.e. table salt, influences the taste receptors of the tongue and masks the bitter note in the coffee. "Such 'masking' of taste – especially bitter taste – works by having a different taste stimulus switch off the original one. This is due to the structure of our taste receptors on the tongue. In this context, it is often particularly important to switch off the so-called 'type 2 bitter receptors' – and it is precisely this switching off that works optimally via the so-called 'type 1 receptors', i.e. those that are activated by salt," explains Britta Mattern from the German Coffee Association to Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Salt in the coffee is supposed to mask the bitter substances and make the drink taste milder. (Symbolic image) © IMAGO / Westend61
Making coffee: add salt to the coffee powder before cooking
The salt neutralizes the bitter substances and acidity contained in the coffee - the drink should taste a little milder and less tart. At the same time, salt can also enhance the natural aroma of ground coffee beans. Theoretically, you should be able to add the salt even after cooking and achieve the same effect. However, it is better to add it to the coffee powder before cooking, as the salt crystals have more time to dissolve, says Matter. When making coffee, however, it is better to avoid tap water.
Salt in coffee: Milk and sugar also neutralize bitter substances
But too much salt is not good either: According to the German Nutrition Society, the upper limit of salt is six grams. Anything above that could be detrimental to health. Large amounts are already present in processed foods. Do we still need salt in the coffee? Study results show that sugar and milk also contribute to the neutralization of bitter substances. So the coffee trend on social media doesn't come out of nowhere – but you shouldn't overdo it with the amount of salt. (hk)