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Food & Recipes

Alton Brown Swears By This Simple Fix for Bitter-Tasting Coffee

Hint: it's not sugar.


For those of us who rely on a piping hot cup of coffee every morning to get us going (or cold brew, depending on your preference), there’s nothing worse than taking a sip and being greeted by an extra bitter taste. We aren’t just talking about the normal level of bitterness we expect from a traditional cup of joe. After all, you can usually calm that down with a little sweetener or cream if you’re not a fan of regular black coffee. No, we’re talking about that unbearably strong, ultra bitter flavor that almost ruins everything else you try to taste for the rest of your day. 

Luckily, there’s a solution to this pesky problem, which has been presented by none other than Food Network’s very own Alton Brown. In fact, he gave the answer away back on his show Good Eats, but the trick has recently resurfaced thanks to an unusual key ingredient he includes in every brew: salt. You might be thinking, “Wait, but doesn’t salt make things taste more bitter?” We had the very same question, but Brown has continued to swear by the method for years. 

In a 2015 Facebook post, Brown explained, “Salt and Coffee: Not only does salt cut the bitterness of coffee, but it also smooths out the ‘stale’ taste of tank-stored water.” He went on to detail his personal technique: a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt to every six tablespoons of grounds. “That isn’t really enough to taste, but it’ll do the trick,” he explained before adding, “And by the way, research has proven that salt is actually better at neutralizing bitterness than sugar.”

You can find more of the quirky food expert’s tips for brewing up a delicious cup of coffee with every pot in the clip below. Along with the salt, Brown outlines the importance of buying whole beans rather than pre-ground, using the right kind of grinder, and the best way to keep it from burning.

As skeptical as you might be, Alton Brown hasn’t steered us wrong before. It’s definitely worth trying out with your next batch of coffee!

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