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If your morning coffee tastes more like a salty ocean than a rich and smooth cup of joe, you may be wondering why it's so salty. In this blog post, we'll explore the top causes of salty coffee and provide solutions to help you enjoy a more balanced and flavorful cup. From water quality to brewing methods, get ready to discover how to fix this uncommon coffee issue and start your day on the right foot!

Causes of Salty Coffee

Water Quality

One major factor affecting the taste of coffee is the quality of water used for brewing. High mineral content in water, specifically in hard water, can lead to a salty or even metallic taste in coffee. Additionally, soft water with a higher sodium ion concentration might contribute to the sharp saltiness in the coffee. To achieve a balanced coffee taste, using filtered water or bottled water (neither too soft nor too hard) will help ensure that the coffee flavor is unaffected.

Coffee Beans

The quality and freshness of coffee beans play a significant role in determining the taste of the final brew. Old or stale coffee beans may result in an unpleasant, salty flavor. It is important to store coffee beans in a cool, dry place, preferably in an airtight container, to maintain their freshness. Furthermore, it helps to grind the beans just before brewing as this preserves the natural aromas and flavors of the coffee, preventing any off-tastes, such as saltiness.

Grind Size

The size of the coffee grind also has an impact on the taste of the coffee. A too-coarse grind can lead to under-extraction, which in turn results in a salty coffee flavor. On the other hand, a too-fine grind might over-extract the coffee, causing bitter or sour notes. It is, therefore, crucial to select the appropriate grind size of the coffee beans, depending on the brewing method used. For instance, a medium grind would work well for drip coffee while a coarser grind would be more suitable for a French press.

Brewing Process

Factors in the brewing process, such as water temperature, brewing method, and the ratio of coffee to water, can affect the taste of the coffee. Using water with the correct temperature (ideally between 195°F to 205°F) ensures proper extraction of the coffee flavors. Moreover, it's essential to follow the recommended brewing time for each brewing method, as this will prevent under- or over-extracting the coffee. Lastly, maintaining a proper coffee-to-water ratio will help achieve a balanced and flavorful cup of coffee, without the salty taste.

Extraction Issues

When it comes to understanding why coffee tastes salty, extraction plays a vital role. The extraction process determines the flavors and profiles taken from the coffee grounds during brewing. It can impact the balance of the coffee and contribute to salty or bitter tastes. This section will discuss over-extraction and under-extraction as two leading causes of salty taste in coffee.


Over-extraction occurs when too much flavor and compounds are extracted from the coffee grounds, which can result in a bitter taste. This typically happens when:

  • The grind size is too fine, allowing water to extract more from the coffee grounds.
  • The extraction time is too long, letting the water pull out excessive compounds from the coffee.
  • There is too much water used during the brewing process, causing an unbalanced coffee-to-water ratio.

To prevent over-extraction, consider adjusting the grind size, extraction time, or the amount of water used in the brewing process. It's crucial to maintain a balanced coffee-to-water ratio for optimal taste.


On the other hand, under-extraction occurs when not enough flavor is taken from the coffee grounds. Under-extracted coffee can taste sour or salty and may happen due to:

  • A coarse grind size, which prevents water from extracting sufficient flavor from the coffee grounds.
  • Insufficient extraction time, where the water does not have enough contact with the coffee grounds to extract the desired flavors.
  • Not using enough water during brewing, leading to an imbalance in the coffee-to-water ratio.

To resolve under-extraction issues, try adjusting your grind size to be finer, increasing the extraction time, or ensuring that you use an appropriate amount of water for the coffee you are brewing. These adjustments will help you achieve a more balanced and desirable flavor profile in your coffee.

In addition to extraction issues, water quality plays a significant role in the taste of coffee. Hard water with high mineral content or soft water with a lot of sodium ions can lead to a salty flavor in coffee. Using filtered water or water with balanced mineral content can help mitigate this issue and improve the taste of your coffee.

Roasting and Origin

Roast Levels

Roast levels play a significant role in the taste of coffee beans, affecting their flavor characteristics. Dark roast, medium roast, and light roast are some common categories. A dark roast entails a longer roasting process, which can sometimes lead to a salty taste in coffee. The beans undergo extensive heating, and during this process, they can acquire a bitter and occasionally salty flavor profile. On the other hand, medium roast beans retain a more balanced flavor, with minimal chances of experiencing saltiness.

Experimenting with various roasting levels can help you determine the ideal roast for your taste preferences, avoiding the salty taste issue. If you find one specific roast level to be causing a salty taste, consider trying another roast level, such as transitioning from dark roast to medium or light roast.

Coffee Origins

The origin of coffee beans can also influence the taste of your cup, as beans from different regions possess unique flavor notes. Robusta beans, for instance, are less acidic and can have a slightly bitter taste, which could be perceived as salty in some cups. Regions with high mineral content in the soil can produce beans with distinct flavors, which may contribute to a salty taste when brewed.

To minimize the chances of experiencing a salty taste due to coffee origins, diversify your bean selection from different regions and brands. By doing so, you can explore different coffee varieties and eliminate saltiness caused by region-specific flavor profiles.

In summary, the roast level and origin of your coffee beans both play a role in shaping your coffee's taste, and adjusting these factors can help prevent a salty flavor. By experimenting with different roast levels and exploring a variety of coffee origins, you can find the right combination for an ideal taste that does not include saltiness.

Brewing Methods

In this section, we'll delve into some common brewing methods that may affect the salty taste of your coffee, including French Press, Pour-Over, and others.

French Press

The French Press brewing method involves steeping coffee grounds in hot water before pressing them down with a plunger to separate the liquid coffee from the grounds. If you're finding that your French Press coffee tastes salty, it's possible that under-extraction is the culprit. Under-extraction occurs when insufficient water is used, the coffee grind is too coarse, or the brewing time is too short. The balance between water, grind size, and steeping time is crucial for extracting the optimal flavors and preventing a salty coffee taste.


Pour-over coffee is another popular brewing method that can be sensitive to various factors. The pour-over method involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds placed in a filter, allowing gravity to pull the brewed coffee through the filter and into a receptacle placed beneath. Factors like water temperature and flow rate, grind size, amount of coffee and water, and the brewing device can all impact the final taste of your pour-over coffee. If your pour-over coffee tastes salty, try experimenting with different water temperatures, grind sizes, and brewing ratios to ensure proper extraction and avoid the undesirable saltiness.


Other brewing methods such as drip coffee, espresso, and Aeropress can also influence the taste of your coffee. In each case, the quality and mineral content of the water used, as well as the extraction process, will play a significant role in determining the final taste. To avoid a salty taste in your coffee:

  • Use filtered water with a balanced mineral content
  • Choose the appropriate grind size for your brewing method
  • Ensure proper and consistent water temperature
  • Experiment with brewing ratios, steeping times, and water flow rates

In summary, several brewing methods can lead to a salty coffee taste if not executed carefully. Paying attention to factors like water quality, grind size, water temperature, and extraction times will help you fine-tune your brewing methods and achieve the perfect cup of coffee.

Coffee-to-Water Ratio

One of the main factors that can affect the taste of your coffee is the coffee-to-water ratio. The coffee-to-water ratio refers to the amount of coffee and water used in a brew. It is a weight-based formula that can be applied to brewing any amount, whether a single cup or large pot. The golden ratio for coffee, the ratio that tends to produce the most balanced cup, is 1:18 (or also written 18:1). This is translated as 1 part coffee to 18 parts water.

However, the normal ratio for coffee to water can be between 1:15 and 1:18, as both of these ratios are known to work well and result in balanced extraction when done for the right time with the right temperature. If there isn't enough water, the extraction process might be affected and could alter the taste of your coffee.

When it comes to brewing cold brew coffee, the coffee-to-water ratio should be around 1:4 to 1:5. For instance, if you use a 12-cup French Press to make cold brew, which has a 51 oz/1.5 l capacity, you should prepare 300-375 g of ground beans. Otherwise, it is recommended to use 6-7 g of coffee for every oz of water.

Some factors that affect the coffee-to-water ratio and can contribute to a salty taste in your coffee include:

  • Over-extraction: This occurs when the coffee grounds are in contact with water for too long, resulting in a bitter and salty taste.
  • Water Quality: High levels of sodium, magnesium, or calcium in your water can contribute to a salty taste. A balanced pH level (6.5-7.5) is essential for a smooth, well-rounded cup of coffee.

To help you calculate the coffee-to-water ratio for different brewing methods, you can use certain tools that allow you to choose your brewing method (pour-over, AeroPress, etc.) and your intended drink size, measured in cups or the corresponding values in ounces, grams, or ml of water.

In summary, maintaining the right coffee-to-water ratio will help you achieve a balanced and pleasant taste in your coffee, avoiding unwanted salty flavors. Make sure to also consider other factors, like the quality of your water and the brewing method you're using, to ensure a great-tasting cup every time.

Coffee Machine Maintenance

One cause of salty tasting coffee can be a dirty or faulty coffee machine. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your coffee machine can ensure an excellent brewing process that results in a delicious cup of coffee. This section will discuss proper coffee machine maintenance, including cleaning and troubleshooting issues like a dirty machine and a faulty coffee maker.

Firstly, as coffee residue and oil can accumulate over time, it's essential to clean your coffee machine regularly. A dirty coffee machine can negatively impact the extraction process, leading to under-extraction and a salty taste. To clean your machine, follow the manufacturer's instructions, which may include using a cleaning solution, rinsing the machine with water, or descaling if your machine has a build-up of calcium.

Coffee machine maintenance is also crucial for preventing issues with a faulty coffee maker. If your coffee maker is not functioning correctly or has damaged parts, it can affect the brewing process, yield under-extracted coffee, and result in a salty taste. Some common issues with a faulty coffee maker may include:

  • Inconsistent water flow
  • Inaccurate water temperature control
  • Blocked or clogged filters

To address these issues, refer to your coffee machine's user manual, and follow the recommended troubleshooting steps provided by the manufacturer. Additionally, be sure to replace any damaged parts, like filters, when necessary.

Another essential aspect of coffee machine maintenance is adjusting the coffee grind size. If the grind size is too coarse, this can lead to under-extracted coffee and cause salty flavors. Experiment with different grind sizes to find the optimal extraction level for your coffee machine and taste preferences.

In summary, proper coffee machine maintenance and regular cleaning are crucial for preventing a salty taste in your coffee. Ensuring that your machine is in good working order, using the right grind size, and addressing any faulty components can result in a consistently delicious cup of coffee.

Possible Health Factors

There may be several health factors that contribute to a salty taste in your coffee, such as xerostomia, dehydration, and a sour taste on your palate.


Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, occurs when there is reduced saliva production in the mouth. This condition can lead to an altered sense of taste, including a salty or metallic taste. When drinking coffee, this altered taste perception may cause the beverage to seem saltier than it actually is. To alleviate xerostomia, one may consider increasing fluid intake or using specialized saliva substitutes.


Dehydration, a condition where the body loses more fluids than it takes in, can directly affect your sense of taste. When you're dehydrated, your salivary flow is reduced, and this may lead to experiencing unusual taste sensations like saltiness in your coffee. To combat dehydration, make sure to drink sufficient amounts of water throughout the day and be mindful of consuming beverages with diuretic properties, such as those that contain caffeine.

Additionally, a sour taste in the mouth can also be associated with dehydration. Your coffee may seem more sour or salty when your body is not properly hydrated, so it is important to maintain a balance of fluid intake.

Sour Taste

A sour taste on the palate could be due to several factors, such as the acidity of the coffee, bacterial overgrowth in the mouth, or gastritis. If the coffee blend you're using is particularly acidic, it may contribute to a sour taste that could be misconstrued as saltiness. Furthermore, bacteria and plaque buildup in the oral cavity can alter the taste perception, while gastritis — an inflammation of the stomach lining — can result in increased acid production and affect the taste of foods and beverages. If any of these causes are present, it is essential to address them to ensure that the taste of your coffee remains as true as possible.

Finding the Perfect Cup of Coffee

For coffee lovers and connoisseurs alike, the quest for the perfect cup of coffee can be an ongoing adventure. The myriad of coffee flavors and nuances can be greatly affected by various factors. One such factor is an unexpected salty taste in your coffee. Understanding the causes behind this can help you make adjustments to achieve a more enjoyable coffee flavor.

A primary factor that contributes to a salty taste in coffee is the mineral content in the water used for brewing. High levels of sodium, magnesium, or calcium can alter the flavor profile and lead to a saltier taste. Ensuring that the pH level of the water is balanced (6.5-7.5) is necessary for a smooth, well-rounded cup of coffee.

One might also consider the role of coffee beans and roasting techniques in producing a salty taste. The roasting process is just as crucial as the brewing process in determining the final taste. Selecting high-quality beans with a suitable roast profile can greatly impact the coffee's flavor.

Under-extraction is another common reason why coffee may taste salty. This can happen when there is insufficient water used during the brewing process, the coffee grind is too coarse, or the brewing equipment is malfunctioning. To mitigate this issue, one should:

  • Use the correct grind size for the brewing method
  • Ensure the brewing equipment is functioning correctly
  • Adjust the water-to-coffee ratio as needed

In search of the perfect cup of coffee, a coffee enthusiast should also take into account the brewing method. There are several popular methods, such as French Press and Hand Poured Coffee Makers (also known as pour-over coffee makers). Each method offers different levels of control over the brewing process, which may lead to variations in flavor.

In summary, the path to the perfect cup of coffee sometimes requires a little experimentation and knowledge of how elements, such as water quality, roasting techniques, brewing methods, and equipment, contribute to the final taste. By addressing these factors and making calculated adjustments, one can fine-tune their coffee-making process, resulting in a more satisfying and enjoyable flavor experience.

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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