What to do if Your Coffee Tastes Salty

Have you recently drank a cup of coffee, only to find that you get a salty taste in your mouth? The quality of your coffee beans and how it’s brewed can bring up different attributes of the coffee. But, salty isn’t one you’re hoping for.

A great-tasting cup of coffee will usually have a balance of different flavors and qualities where they all complement each other. Some people prefer their coffee to have a bit of a salty taste and may even add a pinch of salt if it has a bitter flavor.

But, if saltiness isn’t what you desire and you are tasting it anyways, continue reading. Your coffee can taste salty for a multitude of reasons.

Other than the possibility that the water used in the brewing process is salty to begin with, under-extraction is most likely the culprit of the salty coffee. Under-extraction can occur when insufficient water is used during brewing, the coffee grind is too coarse, or the machine is broken. 

Let’s take a further look into each of these culprits and how to rid your coffee of that unwanted salty taste.

Why Does My Coffee Taste Salty?

The most common causes of salty coffee is that your water is salty to begin with or the coffee beans are under-extracted. First, let’s dive into using salty water.

Salty Water to Start With

Coffee is made from two components, coffee beans and water. The quality of the water you use to brew your coffee will affect its overall taste. In fact, your favorite cup of coffee is made with mostly water. It makes sense to go to the primary source first.

The saltiness you may taste in your water is due to sodium chloride, more commonly known as table salt. Sodium chloride can get into your water because of possible seawater seeping into the water lines or salt deposits found in the soil.

Another possible cause of salt in your water may be a faulty water softener system installed in your home. If the water coming from your faucet is salty and you have a water softener in your home, check out the system for any logical causes of malfunction. You may need to call out a repairman if you are unfamiliar with how your particular system works.

Check out our other article, “What type of water should I use in my coffee maker?” for more in-depth information on the best water to use when brewing coffee.

Using the tap is not the best source to get water from, especially if you live in areas with lesser quality. Some cities tend to have better water than others. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects data all over the U.S. and allows the public to access the water quality where they live.

Under-Extracted Coffee

If you’ve checked the water used to make your coffee, and it seems perfectly normal, then your salty coffee is most likely due to under-extraction.

Extraction is the process of pulling the flavor out of the coffee bean through hot water. When water is combined with coffee grounds, a chemical reaction dissolves the flavor compounds. If using a French Press, extraction refers to the amount of time the coffee grounds are immersed in water.

Over-extraction of the grounds can result in bitter coffee. On the reverse, sourness or saltiness can occur when the grounds are under-extracted.

Under-extracted coffee can occur for three reasons:

  1. Not enough water is used during the brewing process.
  2. The coffee grind is too coarse.
  3. The coffee maker is not functioning correctly.

1. Too Little Water Being Used

Determining the correct amount of water to use in brewing the perfect cup of coffee may take some trial and error. Everyone is going to have a different preference, so start somewhere and start experimenting.

Remember that using too little water in the brewing process can lead to a coffee with a salty taste. If you are only using a small amount of water, the coffee is not allowed the entire time it needs for the full flavor to be extracted by the water. This is what leads to that salty taste.

For more in-depth information and a table showing how much water to use, check out our other article, “What is the best coffee to water ratio?”

2. Coffee Grind Too Coarse

Grinding your coffee beans can take some practice. Two things will dictate the fineness or coarseness of the grind size you’re looking for. First, the brewing method significantly determines how fine or coarse your grounds should be.

Iif you are brewing with an Espresso, your grind size should be very fine, like the size of table salt. If you are using a French Press, you will want to use a coarse grind.

Below is a table explaining in detail how fine or coarse you want to grind your beans depending on what device you are brewing with.

Table showing how fine or coarse you should grind your coffee beans if you are using an espresso, aeropres, v60, Chemex, or French Press.
The second thing that will determine the coarseness of your coffee grind is the amount of coffee you are brewing. Typically, the more coffee you make, the more coarse your grind should be.

If your coffee grind is too coarse, the water will pass through too quickly and not be able to extract enough of the coffee flavor in the process. When your grind is the correct size (not too coarse), there is more surface area of the coffee, allowing the water to extract more of the coffee flavor.

For further explanation of how to determine how fine to grind your coffee beans, click here!

3. Coffee Machine not Functioning Correctly

Unfortunately, under extraction can result from your coffee maker not functioning correctly. If your coffee maker is older, it may be difficult to heat the water to the necessary temperature.

When this occurs, the grounds are under-extracted. This prevents all the good oils and coffee flavors from being extracted to make that perfect cup of coffee.

Another issue is when the brew time. When the time is shortened too much the water doesn’t have enough time to extract the oils and flavor from the coffee grounds.

For the typical person, these issues usually warrant a new coffee machine.

Why Would You Add Salt to Your Coffee?

You’ve read all the reasons why your coffee is salty, and how to remedy the problem. You may be curious as to why coffee drinkers would actually put salt in their beverage.

Salt can actually eliminate the bitter taste of coffee. It does so by activating the salt receptors on our tongues, thus blocking the bitterness. Since sodium ions are a primary component of salt, it neutralizes the bitter taste when drinking coffee. As the bitterness fades, the coffee’s natural sweetness is able to be tasted.

In fact, salt has been shown to do this better than sugar. Whereas sugar merely masks coffee bitterness, salt neutralizes it. This is excellent news if you are trying to cut down on your sugar intake, but can’t tolerate bitter-tasting coffee. 

Don’t go overboard here though. You don’t need much salt to counteract bitterness. To read more about salted coffee, click here.

table showing how much salt you should put in your coffee.
Salt & Bitterness

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ll be able to determine the cause of your salty-tasting coffee after reading this and doing your investigative work. Remember to check the water you are using first, and then if that isn’t the cause of your salty coffee, follow our other recommendations.

How Long Does Coffee Creamer Last?

While some coffee lovers enjoy their cup of coffee black with no additives, many of us, including myself, wouldn’t dare drink it without our favorite coffee creamers. Nowadays, there is such a variety of creamers to choose from.

Depending on what type of coffee creamer you are using will determine how long it can last refrigerated or not. So, how do you know how long your specific coffee creamer will last?

Liquid dairy coffee creamers are good for up to a couple of weeks past the “use-by” date on the package if left unopened. However, once opened, it will only last one to two weeks in the refrigerator. Other variations of coffee creamers will last longer.

Let’s delve deeper into multiple kinds of creamers, how long they should be good for, and what can happen if consumed after it’s gone bad.

Variations of Coffee Creamers and How Long They Last

Thankfully, there isn’t a one size fits all creamer for our coffee in the coffee world. From liquid to powered and dairy to non-dairy, there are plentiful options. Then, there are the ever-changing flavors you can try. Let’s look at the various creamers to choose from and how they hold up regarding their longevity or shelf life.

Dairy Products

Dairy creamer typically consists of milk, cream, sugar, and often flavoring. As a result, refrigeration is always needed, whether it’s unopened or opened, and should be used within one to two weeks once opened. Always check the “use by” date on the packaging as well.

Non-Dairy Products

Luckily for those who can’t or wish not to drink dairy, we have the option to use non-dairy creamers in our coffee.

If the product you are using is a non-dairy powder, storing it in an UNOPENED, tightly sealed container in a dark and cool cupboard is just fine.

If unopened, check the “best used by” date and use it within four weeks after the date. If opened, be sure to store it in the refrigerator and use it within one to two weeks.

Powdered Coffee Creamers

Powered coffee creamers are probably the easiest creamer to store and stays good the longest. This type of creamer can stay good for months even after the “use-by date” on the package.

I store mine in a pantry at room temperature with the lid tightened to prevent moisture from entering. If your powered creamer shows signs of moisture or is clumping up in balls, I suggest tossing it and using a new container.

This moisture and/or clumping could lead to bacteria growth and thus spoiling your creamer.

Liquid Coffee Creamer

Any creamer, whether it is dairy or non-dairy, that is liquid isn’t going to last as long as powdered. Always check the “best used by” date on the package; if unopened, I suggest only using it one to two weeks after the date.

Once you open the liquid creamer, use it within one week, two at max.

Individual Creamer Cups

Individual creamer packages are typically found at restaurants but can also be purchased for home use. These store longer than your typical liquid creamers, and refrigeration is unnecessary.

Although these single-serve creamers don’t need to be chilled, they should never be left in a warm sunny area. It’s best to keep them in a cupboard or drawer.

Always check the “best by” date on the packaging, but single-serve creamers are often good for six months. Once the cup is opened, it is preferable to use it immediately, but if necessary can be stored in the refrigerator and covered for a couple of days.

Table showing how long different coffee creamers last opened and unopened.

The figures listed above are just estimates. It is always best to inspect your creamer if you are unsure.

How to Tell if Your Coffee Creamer is no Longer Good?

We’ve just gone over how long each type of creamer lasts, either opened or unopened, but sometimes you may not be sure how long ago you opened your coffee creamer. What do you do then? How do you tell if it is safe to use?

This is when your detective skills come in. Examine the creamer for changes in appearance, smell, and taste. This is especially true for your liquid creamers.

Image answering the question "Is your creamer still good?" Look for changes in taste, smell, and appearance.

If you see any signs of a change in texture, as in clumps or chunkiness, throw it away! Also, smell to see if there is a sour smell or if it just doesn’t smell right. Lastly, if its appearance and odor have not changed, do a small taste test. Drink a teaspoon before pouring it into your cup of coffee.

What Can Happen if Bad Coffee Creamer is Consumed?

While it is often completely fine to consume certain foods after their expiration date, you must be cautious about coffee creamer. As we discussed earlier in this article, any coffee creamer that is liquid and/or dairy will spoil much faster than other powered and non-dairy creamers.

Once a particular creamer goes bad, they become contaminated with fungus and bacteria. If consumed, your stomach will likely not be too happy with you and let you know. Consuming spoiled creamer can cause food poisoning that can often lead to digestive issues, including stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Drinking only a tiny amount of spoiled coffee creamer, such as when you are doing a taste test, will not likely cause severe digestive symptoms. However, consuming larger amounts can cause the issues stated above.

These symptoms will likely resolve within 12-24 hours. If you aren’t feeling better after this timeframe, consult your doctor for further care.

How to Make Coffee Creamer Last Longer

Freeze It

If you are looking for ways to make your creamer last longer, one solution is to store it in the freezer. Like many other foods, freezing it will, in a sense, freeze the expiration date on the label.

When freezing a liquid creamer, it’s best to place it in the freezer before opening if possible. This can add about six months to your shelf life. As soon as the bottle is removed from the freezer and opened, you start the one to two-week period in which it should be used.

If powered creamer is your preferred coffee additive, then you can again store it in the freezer as well. What’s nice about the powered variation is that you don’t necessarily need to thaw before using it. Simply take the container out of the freezer, scoop what you need into your coffee, and immediately return it to the freezer.

As with liquid creamer, freezing powered creamer should give you about six months of shelf life.
One important thing to note when freezing powdered creamer; it is essential not to let the powder thaw outside the freezer unless you are going to use all of it right away. The reason is that once the powder begins to thaw, moisture starts to build. This moisture can lead to bacteria growth, which obviously we don’t want going into our bodies.

Another tip when storing liquid creamer in the refrigerator is to place it near the back of the fridge, where it tends to stay colder. Keeping it in the refrigerator’s door is not a good idea because this area tends to be the least cold spot.

Keep Tightly Sealed

Storing in a tightly sealed container will help preserve its freshness regardless of what type of creamer you are using. If the packaging isn’t adequate or shows signs of damage, pour it into another storage container, preferable one that doesn’t let in any light or air.

How Long Do Different Kinds of Milk Stay Good For?

If you want to forgo the typical coffee creamer and go straight for the milk instead, be cautious not to consume spoiled milk. Always check the expiration date and do a quick sniff before pouring it into your coffee. If it has an off odor, it’s best to toss it. 

Some types of milk stay good for longer. Let’s take a quick look at the shelf life of some popular kinds of milk. 

  • Cow’s milk: 3 weeks to a month after processing
  • Almond milk: 1 to 1 1/2 weeks after opening
  • Oat milk: 2 to 3 weeks (refrigerated)
  • Coconut milk: 7-10 days after opening (in canned and unopened, then 2-5 years)

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can now drink your coffee and creamer with ease knowing it’s fresh and safe. Remember that powdered creamer will always outlast liquid creamer by far, and refrigeration or freezing is your friend!

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