Updated: Jan 2
Many people are familiar with the concept of salty and sweet paired together. Salted caramels and salted chocolate treats are two of the most common salty and sweet pairings around. So much so, that many salt company’s sell additional “sweet” products with their salt like chocolate, caramel, and even honey. But what about salt and coffee?
When I first heard of salt being put into coffee, I was in Jamaica for research, visiting my friends at Old Tavern Coffee Estate farm in the Blue Mountains. I remembered, it was a refreshing evening with the stars out and the lighting bugs (also called fireflies) were twinkling away. It had been a long day of researching for me. We all sat drinking our rum and talking about the day. Of course, coffee and salt were brought up. Randomly, my friend said to me “do you know it is common for some Jamaicans to put salt in their coffee?” With a confused look on my face, I was flabbergasted at the thought. As a chef and researcher of salt, I had NEVER heard of such a thing. I knew the relationship between salt and sugar, but not salt and coffee.
That night I learned the relationship of salt and coffee, and how it was a common practice to put a pinch of salt in a cup of coffee among the Jamaicans that live in the country – in fact, in Jamaica this act is often referred too as “country style” coffee.
This idea fascinated me! As someone who loves both salt and coffee, I needed to know more. After doing my research I found that there are many benefits to adding salt to your coffee – some include health, while others are simply for flavor. Let me explain…
1. Replenishes sodium levels in the body:
Caffeine impacts sodium levels in the body. For those who are not aware, your body needs salt in order to properly function – I will get into this more in another blog. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more. Because of this, the sodium in your body is extracted when you pee – and the more you pee, the more sodium you lose. Some people add a pinch of salt to their coffee to help counteract the loss of sodium, especially for those who live in hot climates where loss of sodium due to perspiration is more common; that is one of the reasons why some Jamaicans add salt to their coffee.
**As a reminder, you should always talk to your medical professional before making this a lifestyle practice, especially if you have medical conditions that require you to watch your salt intake.
2. Impacts coffee’s flavor:
Salt impacts coffee’s flavor. Just like salt enhances a food dish, adding a tiny pinch of salt to one’s coffee can enhance the nutty, fruity, and roasted goodness of a freshly brewed cup of Joe.
3. Neutralizes bitterness:
Neutralizes bitterness – yes, you heard me right, adding a tiny pinch of salt to your brewed coffee, or mixing salt to your pre-grounded coffee or water before brewing can neutralize any bitterness present. This is done because sodium ions block the taste buds from identifying any bitter flavors – making things taste more palatable. This is also a great substitute for people to use instead of sugar. Unlike salt, sugar only mask the bitterness. By adding salt, you cut back on your sugar intake.
4. Improves stale water and/or coffee:
Did you know both water and coffee can become stale? Meaning, it loses its freshness and can become unpleasant to consume. If you have a coffee maker that has a water well, as the water sits it becomes stale over time and influences the quality of your brewed coffee. Adding a pinch of salt can keep your water fresh and improve the water quality! It can even make your water denser, which can give your coffee a thicker texture. Same thing with coffee. When coffee is pre-grounded, oxygen makes its way into the coffee and begins the decaying process. This results in coffee losing its natural flavor within 20 to 30 minutes, and becomes stale. To counteract this, adding salt brightens the flavors again making what was once stale, become full of flavor. This is a good trick to use if you are someone who buys pre-ground coffee for its convenience. However, at Salty Jack™ we are team whole bean and encourage others to buy only whole bean coffee.
5. Culture and location:
As mentioned above many Jamaicans put salt in their coffee. This method is past down from one generation to the next – thereby, becoming part of culture. Another reason is because of location. Living on an island, salt water is readily available. Historically, salt water was used to cook food in many coastal regions, and in this case also used in brewing coffee. It is common to see different cultures near salt water resources use the salt water to brew coffee. Some other countries besides Jamaica, that this practice is seen done includes some West African countries, Northern Scandinavia, Turkey, Hungary, and Siberia.
Making the decision to sell coffee along side Salty Jack’s ™ salts, was a no brainier. Knowing the unique relationship and historical connection to salt, it was a match made in heaven to sell coffee in addition to our salts. Plus, coffee is another personal passion of mine and I wanted to share that with the world. Additionally, my heart was drawn to help support Old Tavern Coffee Estate. Over the past years, the lovely people at Old Tavern have helped me in many ways, including with my research in Jamaica. Giving back is one of the values of this company. I am able to do so, by supporting a family own farm in Jamaica with the sale of their coffee. Want to know more about Old Tavern and Jamaica Blue Mountain ® coffee – visit our Partnership page and FAQ page.
So, now that you know the relationship between salt and coffee, I encourage you to try it out! All you need to do is add a tiny pinch of Salty Jack™ salt, I recommended The Salty Seas Rum Salt, A Cup of Jack Coffee Salt, or Whiskey Whiskers Whiskey Salt to a cup of coffee. Adding infused sea salt adds a little “extra” pizzazz, compared to just plain salt.
Go "Country Style" and feel like you are in Jamaica with our Old Tavern Jamaica Blue Mountain ® coffee.
Until next time - keep it salty!
-Alyssa aka the Salt Woman