Why Does My Coffee Taste Salty? 3 Surprising Reasons

If you've recently wondered, “why does my coffee taste salty?” there can be various causes. In this article, we list three main reasons for salty coffee.

Why does my coffee taste salty?
Read on to know what makes coffee salty

Even coffee drinkers who aren't coffee experts can tell if a brew doesn't taste right. So if you've recently made a brew and thought, “why does my coffee taste salty?” you should trust your taste buds and investigate what the possible cause could be.

There are multiple reasons why coffee can taste salty, such as under-extraction or a malfunctioning coffee machine. To help you understand what's causing your salty cups of coffee, here's a list of three common causes:

What Should Coffee Taste Like?

Best coffee for Keurig machines
Coffee has a balance of the four tastes

If you're a standard coffee drinker who enjoys making your brews at home but hasn't necessarily read up about coffee, you may be wondering how the ideal cup of coffee should taste. Well, it all boils down to balance. When it comes to taste, coffee includes bitter, sour, sweet, and salty tastes.

In good brews, none of these tastes is overpowering. In a good cup of coffee, all of these tastes will be perfectly balanced and complement one another.

Since the perfect cup of coffee should provide an overall smooth taste, an overpowering taste and off-flavors are signs that something isn't right. Brewing is a delicate art that involves multiple variables, including grind size, coffee-to-water ratio, brewing method, and extraction time.

This means that it's easier to brew a bad cup of coffee than you may think! However, there are common mistakes that brewers make that can easily be rectified with a bit of knowledge and patience.

Why Does My Coffee Taste Salty?

If you've recently noticed a slight, or even overpoweringly, salty taste in your brews, there can be various reasons for this. To help you pinpoint the problem, here are three common issues that may be the cause of your salty brews:

1. Under-Extraction

The Best Temperature to Brew coffee at
Extraction determines the amount of flavor taken from your coffee grounds

Extraction is a super important aspect of the brewing process since it determines the amount of flavor taken from the coffee grounds. In short, extraction refers to the amount of time that the water takes to move through the coffee grounds — or, in the case of French presses, for instance, how long the coffee grounds are immersed in water.

In a perfectly extracted brew, enough flavor will have been pulled from the coffee to provide a balanced and smooth taste. However, when extraction goes wrong, this perfect balance is not achieved, and some flavors become overpowering.

When over-extraction takes place, you end up with a bitter brew that has a hollow taste. Conversely, when you under-extract, your coffee can taste overpoweringly sour or salty.

Learn now to fix under-extracted coffee.

2. Grind Size

Coffee grind size is directly related to the extraction process. This is because the grind size determines how long the water will take to move through the coffee. Therefore, specific brewing methods work best with particular grind sizes.

When the grounds are too fine for the brewing method, the result will be over-extraction. On the other hand, too coarse a grind size will leave you with under-extracted coffee.

If your coffee has been a bit salty lately, you should check the grind size you're using. Here's a quick overview of popular brewing methods and the grind sizes you should use with them:

  • Espresso machines and Moka pots: Fine grind
  • Pour-over brewers and drip-coffee machines: Medium to medium-fine grind
  • French presses and percolators: Coarse grind

Learn how fine to grind coffee.

3. A Malfunctioning Coffee Maker

A coffee machine that's not working properly anymore, or is not set up correctly, can also cause under-extraction. In such instances, the water is either not hot enough or the brewing time is not long enough. If the water is not hot enough, it won't extract the necessary oils and flavor from the coffee grounds.

Conversely, if the coffee machine doesn't allow for the necessary brewing time, the water will not be in contact with the grounds for long enough to extract the flavor properly. Both of these issues can leave you with a salty cup of coffee.

Want more? Learn how to make instant coffee taste good.

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