Apr 29, 2020
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Hey guys;
I have been brewing in the French Press for over a year now. I am using the James Hoffman method.
I am using fresh high quality beans purchased from a local roaster, and keeping the beans stored in AirScape canisters. I normally buy only 2lbs of beans at a time and it takes me about 4 weeks to use them up.
Currently I'm using Kivu (dark roast) and PNG (medium roast) beans. Most of the time I'll blend the two varieties of beans in a 50/50 mix.
I use a high quality grinder (1ZPresso JX Pro) set to 42, which is a fairly coarse grind - as recommended for FP.
I use a ratio of 1:11 coffee to water. My water is filtered.
Water temp is about 200F (measured in the kettle just before pouring).

My coffee is OK, but I fail to taste any of the nuances in flavor that are described for these beans. The cup is not bitter - just not much flavor.
I have been writing this off to my lack of taste sensitivity. Perhaps my taste buds have been 'shocked' for too long by drinking IPA beers...
FF to two days ago when I was doing some Google searches for this and happened upon a couple of blogs, and a James Hoffman YouTube video on the science of adding a bit of salt to a cup of coffee.
I decided to give it a try. Yesterday I added one 'pinch' (probably about 1/4 tsp) salt to the dry grinds in the French Press. Then I brewed as usual.
I didn't really notice a difference in the taste of the cup, except that it may have been slightly smoother. There was no increase in flavor or aroma.

Today I decided to add the salt directly to the cup, so that I could add more if I desired.
I first drank about 1/3 of the cup without any salt. It was the usual.
Next I added one pinch to the cup. Not much difference, except maybe a bit smoother.
Finally I added a second pinch (a total of about 1/2 tsp) to the cup.
I was immediately greeted with a sweet, spicy aroma and could now detect a slightly spicy taste in the coffee. This fits the description for the beans I am using.

From what I read and understand about the effect of adding salt to the brew (or the cup), it actually neutralizes the bitterness or sourness, rather than simply masking it as sweetners do. The effect of salt in foot/drink is very subjective as well. Some people may not need any to bring out the flavor, while others (like me) seem to benefit from it. However, I do not usually add salt (or sweetner) to any foods I eat.

In the James Hoffman video, he talks about why salt may be beneficial to a cup of coffee, but it is mostly to reduce the bitterness of bad beans. He uses Nescafe instant as his example in the video.
At this point I am going to assume that the lack of taste from my coffee is my problem. My taste buds are not sensitive to the particular chemicals in the coffee that normally produce the flavors.
That said, I have no problems tasting other foods, such as chocolate, nuts, and spices. It seems to be the low levels of these flavors that are escaping my taste buds, and thus the salt may help to bring them out for me.

I would be interested to know what your experiences have been, and whether you have ever tried adding salt to your brew.

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So I guess no one wanted to touch this one?
Well, I don't blame you. It just happened to be something I thought of, so Googled and found the JH video on the subject.
I tried a pinch or two of salt in my cup for a couple of days, then gave it up. No point to it. I have decided that if I am not getting the flavor I expect from my brew, then it's time to switch beans or change something in the brew process; or go to a different brewing process alltogether.