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Can The Colour Of Your Coffee Mug Affect The Taste?

Friday, December 05, 2014

When making the perfect cup of coffee, there are many factors that you need to take into account.

The type/freshness of coffee bean, the quality/heat of the water, the kind of filter… the list goes on and on.

But have all of you coffee connoisseurs out there ever considered that the colour of your chosen coffee mug might also affect the taste?

Granted, this seems like a truly bizarre statement from the mouth of a lunatic, but according to a new study there may be some truth to it.


Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee?

The report (titled above), which was published by the journal Flavour on November 25 2014, postulates that our perception of the bitterness of coffee changes dependent on the colour of the container that we drink it from.

George H Van Doorn, the author of the study, was inspired to explore this topic after he overheard a barista say that the majority of customers complaining about the bitterness of their coffee were drinking from white mugs/cups compared to transparent ones.

And, indeed, after testing the hypothesis on a number of volunteers, the evidence clearly corroborated this line of thinking, as the participants, while drinking the same coffee, experienced different reactions dependent of the colour of the cup.

According to the report, white receptacles “enhanced the rated intensity of the coffee flavor relative to the transparent mug”, which, it was concluded, was down to the contrast in colours.

It was also discovered that blue mugs also enhanced both the bitterness and sweetness of coffee.

The study went on to summarise that:

These results support the view that the colour of the mug should be considered by those serving coffee as it can influence the consumer’s multisensory coffee drinking experience.

These results add to a large and growing body of research highlighting the influence of product-extrinsic colour on the multisensory perception of food and drink.

Why does this happen?

So, how on earth does the colour of mug affect how you taste your coffee?

Well, according to scientists, a white container causes the brown of the coffee to “pop.”

In response, your brain takes that visual data as a sign that the coffee will be both strong and bitter.

A clear mug, on the other hand, softens that pop, and thus dials down your brain’s anticipation of any bitter flavours.

Lastly, blue, believe it or not, is brown’s “complimentary color”, which means it both intensifies the brown but also primes your brain to expect sweet notes.

Choose your colour wisely!

Prefer a strong bitter coffee? Grab a white mug!

Do you have a sweet tooth? A clear, transparent cup is perfect for you!

Like a sweet but still intense flavor? Blue is the colour you need!

Remember to get in touch with us here at Cafe2U regarding your thoughts – we love hearing what our readers have to say!

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