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Topic: Salt and gold as catalyst (20 msgs / 370 lines)
1) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
Andy wrote:
" ...never heard of putting salt in espresso, or any other kind of coffee,
but if it works, why not? You first."
I heard a long time ago that a very small pinch -- just a few grains -- of
salt added to ground beans in filtered coffee works as a catalyst and helps
to brew better tasting coffee. We were doing it years ago when we were
drinking filtered coffee, and it seemed to improve the taste. For no good
reason, we stopped adding a very small pinch of salt when we switched to the
vacuum brewer and also, for no good reason, I am not doing it when using an
espresso machine. I will probably try it again.
I was also thinking about adding a small pinch of salt when home-roasting
coffee -- but never tried it.
A friend of ours who has an advanced degree in chemistry claims that gold
filters are better when compared to paper filters for coffee brewing because
gold acts as a desirable catalyst. She also said that gold-plated baskets
for espresso making would most likely improve the taste of the coffee.
Any comments?
Have a nice week, Lubos
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2) From: Lissa
On Mon, 2002-10-07 at 02:55, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
My guess on the salt is that it counteracts bitterness.  So, this would
only work for bad coffee.
My guess is based on the Indian drink nimbu pani.  You take a big glass
of ice water, squeeze a lime into it (you can use half a lime, or the
whole thing), put a pinch of salt in and toss the squeezed shells in. 
Stir it up, and drink.  Amazingly non-bitter, wonderful stuff when ill
(it is what Gandhi drank when fasting) or when overheated.  Just don't
let it sit long.
You can also make it with a pinch of sugar, but that is too sweet for my
Be well,
You can't depend on your judgment when your
imagination is out of focus.
				Mark Twain
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3) From: Dan Bollinger
Gold is sometimes a catalyst for certain reactions, so it platinum and
cobalt.  But salt can never be a catalyst, at least not in a strict chemical
sense.  Not that salt isn't reacting in the coffee.  More likely, it is
simply salting the beverage.  Dan
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4) From: Dan Bollinger
fyi:  I think it is important to be clear about tasting terminology. Citric
acid is the main flavor component of citrus fruits. Bitterness comes from
alkalines, the opposite of acids on the pH scale.  Suck on a piece of alum
and you'll know what bitterness is.   Dan
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5) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Salt and bitter are opposing tastes, just as sweet and sour are.  The mouth 
detects a tiny bit of salt in coffee as negating the bitterness.
I do this if out and forced to drink crema de common.  Be warned, however, 
once you remove the bitterness from crema de common, there is often either 
no flavor left, or something very disagreeable.
I'm considering a way to seal espresso shots, so I can order hot water in a 
restaurant and make an instant Americano.  It might work if I can figure a 
way to keep the espresso from going bad on a trip.
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6) From: EskWIRED
I'm not familiar with this concept of opposing tastes.  Do you have any more
information?  When I cook, I try to hit all the bases to create intense
flavors.  I usually try for sweet, sour, salt and aromatic stuff like garlic
and herbs.  I leave out bitter, unless it is part of the herbs.
I don't quite get it.  Lemonade is delicious, and it is intensely sour and
somewhat sweet.  When I cook ribs, I spray them with a combo of apple juice
concentrate and apple cider vinegar, which is the same idea.
A cite to something technical would be greatly appreciated.  I always like
to learn.
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7) From: Dan Bollinger
Most foods are called delicious when the acid balance is just right.  This
is true for wine, coffee, lemonade.  Take out he acid and the most often
heard comments will be, "bland" and "flat."   Got some canned grape juice
that tastes flat?  Squirt in some lemon juice.   Dan
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8) From: John
A pinch of salt was common in the service - also egg shells. Of course
we used to accuse our cook of washing his socks in the coffee urn so I
can't say it enhanced much.  I was stationed in the Alps so it made
great sense that we would be given all the tropical butter and cream
from the K-Rations.  The cream would separate, turn a greenish brown and
move to the rim of the cup. Now I don't put salt or cream in my coffee!
John - no voice but feeling like I'll live.
On Mon, 2002-10-07 at 01:55, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
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9) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Unfortunately, I no longer have the texts I used in my Master's degree 
program in Nutrition, that is where the concept of opposing tastes came in.
You can see it work by adding a bit of salt to a bitter grapefruit 
piece.  the salt will negate the bitter and you can then taste the sweet 
that was being masked by the bitterness.
I try for a balance in flavors in my cooking, as well, and happen to enjoy 
bitter.  But, my wife is a super taster and the least bit of bitterness is 
horrid to her, so I've learned to do a bit to negate it.
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10) From: Angelo
In my experience a small amount of salt always brings out the sweetness of 
a food. I regularly put some salt on watermelon, honeydews, etc. There must 
be something to this, else why would there be so much salt in foods whose 
primary taste is sweet?
I never tried it with coffee, though. Time for a test...
Ok, engineers, let us know how many grains of salt per gram of coffee is 
ideal. And, is it better in the brew or in the cup?... Morton's, Kosher or 
sea salt? Enquiring minds need to know....:-)
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11) From: R.N.Kyle
NOT BITTER may be the answer, My Aunt always has put a pinch of salt in =
the grounds before brewing, she said that it takes the bitterness out of =
the coffee. Also in the old days so I've been told that when they would =
run out of sugar that they would use a little salt also to make coffee =
less bitter.
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC

12) From: David Lewis
At 1:55 AM -0500 10/7/02, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
One possibility: I know that really pure water (RO or distilled) 
won't extract the coffee very well. That's why people recommend about 
50 ppm of hardness and 250 ppm total dissolved solids for optimal 
coffee. If your water was very pure, a few grains of salt might help 
the extraction.
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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13) From: Dan Bollinger
David, That might be also true, but adding a pinch of salt to the grounds
goes back further than the invention of Reverse Osmosis.  Seems to me people
just like adding salt to food. I use RO water and I've been looking for a
mineral additive to bring the hardnes up a notch.  There are all sorts of
these things around like Crystal Energy and things like that.   Dan
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14) From: Dave Huddle
My Dad always added a dash of salt to the Maryland Club, Folgers, or
Maxwell House in the aluminum drip coffee maker about 50 years ago when
I was growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Back then I always added half-n-half to the cup.
Now - no salt, no half-n-half.   Water from a Shaklee filter.
Dave	Weserville, OH
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15) From: Dan Bollinger
Dave,  where are you in OH?  Some of us Hoosiers are thinking about getting
together for a Coffee Klatch in Indy including a tour of the Hubbard &
Cravens roasting operation. We haven't picked a date yet, but later this
fall or early spring are reasonable.  Dan
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16) From: David Lewis
At 6:20 AM -0500 10/12/02, Dan Bollinger wrote:
We have very hard water, so when I installed the Techno I put an RO 
system under the sink. Cirqua sold it to me, and for coffee and tea 
making they also added what they call a "reformulation filter" that 
seems to add back a fairly consistent 2-3 grains of hardness. It's 
some kind of calcite filter, but there must be something that keeps 
it from continuing to add hardness when the water's sitting in it, 
because I've measured it both ways and there's no difference. You can 
get their contact info at . Ignore the cute 
"H2O so right" ad copy; they know their stuff.
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or 
that we are to stand by the President right or wrong, is not only 
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American 
     -- Theodore Roosevelt
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17) From: Jim Garlits
When I was having my Rancilio worked on in the shop, I was talking with the
tech, who has serviced espresso machines in office parks.  One of the drug
manufacturers (Lily) had such a cafe, and one of the people who worked in
the complex, I believe, talked them into running a clean water line
(everything foreign has been taken from the h2o...they use it in chemical
compounds) to the espresso machine in the hopes that it would improve the
taste of the 'spresso.  It shut the machine down.  Without the
"contaminates" the boiler didn't recognize that there was water present.  So
this could be a concern for higher end machines.  It sounds like what you're
talking about.  If you use bottled water, make sure its isn't too "clean."
You won't get a good cup.

18) From: Dan Bollinger
I'm going to take a wild guess and figure the machine had a low-water-level
sensor that worked by measuring the resistance of (tap) water.  Distilled
water has extremely high resistance to the point that you could call it a
dielectric.  Such a sensor would sense 'no water'.  A few ions permit
electrical conductance and hence an 'water level OK' reading.  Dan
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19) From: Dave Huddle
Sounds interesting.  Keep me informed.
I'm in Westerville, OH - on the NE corner of Columbus,  about 25
minutes from the old location of SweetMaria's - about 41 hours from the
new location.
Dave Huddle
Westerville, OH  
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20) From: Dan Bollinger
Dave, Will do.  Dan
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