When you have your cup of joe in the morning you probably wouldn't have a second thought as to what colour mug you chose to drink out of. You may even have a favourite mug you like to drink from – possibly because you think coffee tastes better when you drink from it. Well, recent scientific research says you may be right in thinking so.
A study by researchers George H Van Doorn, Dianne Wuillemin and Charles Spence in Australia discovered that the colour of our mugs, does in fact, change the perception of one of our favourite hot beverages. In their study, 36 participants were served café latté with mugs that were white, blue and transparent. They were then asked to rate the drinks based on everything from intensity, sweetness, aroma, bitterness and quality. Findings showed participants found their café latté to have an enhanced perceived "intensity" when served from a white mug compared to the transparent and blue mugs. Participants' ratings of perceived sweetness was also higher when served from a blue mug relative to the white and transparent mugs.
What's going on you ask? Doorn, Wuillemin and Spence hypothesized that contrast in colour is a determining factor of how we perceive taste.
[...] it is possible that colour contrast between the mug and the coffee may have affected the perceived intensity/sweetness of the coffee. That is, the white mug may have influenced the perceived brownness of the coffee and this, in turn, may have influenced the perceived intensity (and sweetness) of the coffee.
Another study, using hot chocolate, found that it is perceived to taste better when served from an orange mug. Researches Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence asked 57 participants to taste four samples of hot chocolate from four different plastic coloured cups of the same size – red, orange, white and dark cream.
The participants had to rate each sample of hot chocolate (two of which had been sweetened) on a number of sensory scales. The results revealed that orange (with a white interior) and dark-cream colored cups enhanced the chocolate flavor of the drink and consequently improved people's acceptance of the beverage. By contrast, sweetness and chocolate aroma were less influenced by the color of the cup, but the results still showed that the hot chocolate, when consumed from the dark-cream cup, was rated as sweeter and its aroma more intense.
These results add to a growing body of research showing the influence of colour, amongst other attributes, on perception of taste of food and drink. Van Doorn et al. go on to suggest that café owners, baristas, and crockery manufacturers carefully consider the colour of the mug and the potential effects that its colour may exert over the multi-sensory coffee drinking experience.
Does this make you want to change the colour of your mug?
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