Best Cup of Coffee, Ever!

A pinch of salt (and our well seasoned filter) make the best coffee, ever!

There’s no need to go out and purchase a fancy machine to make a great cup of coffee. There’s also no need to go out and buy a specific type of coffee, or for that matter, to buy whole beans and grind them seconds before brewing your coffee. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of different types of coffee out on the market and everyone likes something different.

We got over our coffee snobbery a long time ago. For us, it’s about what we think tastes good, costs the least amount of money, takes the least amount of time, and takes up as little counter space as possible. For those reasons we buy our beans in bulk at Costco, grind them at the store, fill a Mason jar with coffee and store it in the cabinet. The rest of the coffee goes into the freezer.

We say, drink what you like, but to make a good cup of coffee even better, here’s a tip we think you should try: add a pinch of salt. That’s right, salt. Just a small amount is all you need to bring out the flavor of the coffee, less than an eighth of a teaspoon per pot. What does the salt do? As in cooking, salt brings out the flavors of the coffee. It makes the coffee less bitter and mellows the notes. We read about it in Cook’s Illustrated, so it must be true. We’ve been hooked since the first try.

How do we make our coffee? First off, we like the pour over method and we use a reusable hemp coffee filter (it’s kind of like a cast iron skillet, it just gets better with age). We decided we don’t need a stovetop kettle – we’ve ruined a few in our lives – so we just heat the water in a pan. Quick, easy and simple!

Move over french press and make room for the pour over method.

We can see it now, the so-called “coffee aficionados”*, screaming at their screens telling us how insane we are. “How dare you title this blog post, ‘Best Cup of Coffee, Ever!” “Never freeze your coffee!” “Always get your beans fresh from a local source.” “Always grind seconds before brewing.” “Use a French Press!” “Starbucks** isn’t real coffee.” Blah, blah, blah. To the CAs, we say go ahead and spend a month’s worth of rent for that allegedly perfect cup of coffee. For the rest of us, just a little pinch of salt will do.

For all those coffee drinkers who like to add milk and sugar to their coffee, but are trying to cut out the sugar, here’s another little tip: heat the milk first before adding it to your coffee. Heating the milk breaks down lactose and converts it to glucose (simple sugar) so the coffee tastes sweeter without any added sugar. You don’t need to buy an expensive espresso machine to steam the milk. A small saucepan on the stovetop will work just fine.

*Air quotes are being used for sarcastic purposes.

**We know there was no mention of Starbucks before, but many “coffee aficionados” look down on SB. We both happen to like SB and are grateful when we find one while traveling. Although, the McCafe in Madrid was nicer than SB. Just saying.

Salt of the Earth


A Classic!

A Classic!


I grew up with the Morton Salt Company – “When it rains it pours.” There was just one salt in our kitchen and it came from a navy blue canister. I didn’t pay much attention to salt. I sort of knew how to use it, though I remember being counseled against over consumption – high blood pressure and all that. I had no idea then, of course, that salt is so important to our survival – it helps our bodies regulate fluid balance, it actually helps regulate blood pressure, and it assists in food absorption in the intestinal tract.

Like so many foods, salt is now terribly misunderstood. Our ancestors could not have imagined a day when salt would be vilified as a public health menace. Salt preserves and cleanses and is essential for so many forms of food preparation and preservation. Of course, we now consume far too much salt if processed foods are our principal source of sustenance. But, if what we cook at home begins as fresh whole unprocessed food, we’ll need to add a little salt – for great taste and for your good health.

The myriad uses for culinary salts grows more creative by the season. And why not? Salt boosts flavor and the larger crystals add satisfying texture to just about everything they touch. Big crunchy crystals of natural sea salt are a perfect compliment to ripe summer tomatoes or grilled steak. We get the big gray crystals we keep in our pantry from the San Francisco Herb Company. They’re amazing and the company’s prices make buying in bulk an easy investment. The gray salt in our cupboard adorns vine ripened heirloom tomatoes at breakfast whenever possible. Our orange Hawaiian sea salt provides color contrast to the white of a sliced boiled egg in one of our ad hoc nicoise salads. But more than all the others, the snowy white sea salt we buy in bulk from Rainbow Grocery waits next to the stove in its salt box for the next meal. It has to be refilled often.

The universe of salt manufacturers is vast. We like the idea of salt made by traditional methods and only very modestly processed, if processed at all. With all that is available online, serious home cooks have no reason to go without interesting salts. But if the local supermarket is your only choice, you should understand what you’re looking at on the store shelf. You can learn just about everything you’ll ever need to know from the Salt Institute – a non-profit salt industry trade association. Note the member company list to gain an understanding of the Institute’s perspective.

– Steve