What’s the Deal with Adding Salt to Coffee?

Adding salt to coffee might sound a bit strange. However, the practice isn’t new. Some documentation dates back to the 1800s (some earlier) when people used it as an alternative to sugar to make their coffee more palatable.

Today, people still add salt to their coffee for various reasons, such as to reduce bitterness, improve flavor, and even boost energy before a workout. However, the concept is debated amongst health professionals, with a faction touting health benefits and others taking a “no benefit” stance.

The idea is picking up speed, so we thought we’d dive deeper into the unusual combination.

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adding salt to coffee, salt coffee
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Reasons Why Salt in Coffee is a Thing

With sugar and other flavor enhancers readily available in the modern age, you might wonder why anyone would turn to salt in their coffee. But there are a few reasons.

  • Reduce bitterness
  • Improve flavor
  • Pre-workout energy boost
  • Tradition

Overcoming Bitterness and Improving the Flavor

One potential benefit of adding salt to coffee is that it may help reduce the bitterness of the beverage, making it more enjoyable for some people. This could be especially useful for people who have trouble enjoying coffee due to its bitter taste or those trying to cut back on sugar but still want something sweet in their cup.

Additionally, some people find that salt helps improve the flavor of their coffee by bringing out specific notes or undertones in the drink.

Improved Workout Performance

There has been some speculation that adding salt to your morning cup may provide an energy boost before a workout by providing electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals like sodium and potassium, essential for proper hydration and muscle function during exercise. Salt contains electrolytes (magnesium, calcium, and potassium), which can help with hydration and electrolyte balance.

Many athletes swear by the practice and claim they see improved performance when they add salt to their pre-workout cup of joe.

Spillin' the Beans, coffee
Spillin' the Beans, coffee


Salt in coffee is not only part of the culinary experience in some countries but also integral to some homespun traditions. Take Turkey, for example…

In Turkey, a tradition that is centuries old may still be followed today by those courting marriage. Potential suitors can undergo a strange ‘test’ to see if they are suitable for a wife. The test requires the young lady to serve them coffee with salt instead of sugar. If the man complains or makes an issue of it upon tasting it, then it may mean that his future marriage won’t be an easy one. However, if he graciously allows it and accepts it without uttering one word, it demonstrates that he would be the perfect husband!

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Vietnamese salt coffee, adding salt to coffee
Spillin' the Beans, coffee

Vietnamese Salt Coffee

If you want to try giving your morning cup a few shakes, one of the best ways to experiment is with Vietnamese Salt Coffee.

It’s a unique beverage that combines strong Vietnamese coffee with a pinch of salt to create a sweet and savory concoction. Even though the mixture has been debated amongst health professionals, it’s still a favorite way to order the traditionally sweet, caffeinated beverage.

Vietnamese Salt Coffee is a twist on traditional black coffee – served hot or cold. It’s brewed in a Phin over a cup with sweetened condensed milk. So, the caramel-y sweetness of the milk not only offsets the salt but complements it. You could compare Vietnamese Salt Coffee to a salted caramel brew.

Recommended: How To Make Vietnamese Coffee with a Phin

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The Downside of Adding Salt to Coffee

We’ve mentioned the debate amongst health professionals about adding salt to coffee. That’s because salt has its benefits, but too much is too much of a good thing. So, adding it to a morning cup o’ joe can be unhealthy for some people.

Excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It’s essential to use small amounts of salt when adding it to coffee and only if you’re not overdoing sodium in other areas.

Conversely, people who need to limit their sugar intake might benefit from sugar-salt replacement. It’s a different way to enjoy coffee without sugar or sweetened flavorings.

The FDA recommends limiting salt intake to 2,300 mg daily. That sounds like an abstract number, but it’s about the same as a teaspoon of table salt.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does adding salt to coffee make it taste better?

This is subjective, as it depends on personal preference. Some people find that adding a pinch of salt to their coffee improves the flavor, while others may not like the taste. People who prefer it find that salt reduces the bitterness in coffee.

Why do some people add salt to coffee before a workout?

Some athletes and fitness enthusiasts believe that adding a pinch of salt to their pre-workout coffee can help them feel energized and maximize their performance. This strategy is based on the idea that sodium helps to reduce stress hormones and improve hydration, both of which are beneficial for workouts. Drinking coffee with a pinch of salt may also help to maintain electrolyte balance during a sweaty workout.

Is adding salt to coffee safe?

Adding a small amount of salt to coffee is safe for most people. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some people may have medical conditions that make it dangerous to consume salt. If you’re concerned, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before adding salt to your coffee.

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