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Does the type of mug affect the taste of your coffee?

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Believe it or not, it does! Or at least it’s perceived that way.

Let’s start with how you choose your coffee mugs. What’s the biggest determining factor? Shape? Color? Cost? Cute quotes? These are very common answers from Cafe Owners when posed this question. Aside from aesthetic, how do your coffee mugs (or cups) affect the taste of your coffee?

Color.

Believe it or not, color does play a factor. Based on research conducted by the coffee journal Flavour, namely, if the mug is white, coffee will taste sweeter. It has nothing to do with the actual filtered beans being affected, rather than the contrast of the stark white on a dark delicious liquid.

All 18 tasters even went as far as to say there was a significant difference between the same coffee, poured into blue mugs, clear mugs and the white mugs.

Additionally, the texture of the mug didn’t seem to affect the taste. (The same study conducted the test with both rubber handles and not.)

Size.

Can the diameter and height of a mug affect the taste of coffee? Turns out, it sure can!

A study published in Food Quality and Preference concluded that once again, people perceived the coffee to be sweeter with larger or deeper mugs.

Some of this could be due to the fact that we are a culture who is used to consuming milky-er and sweeter lattes in larger cups. Therefore one could make the argument that we associate sweeter drinks with larger cups, and more bitter and aromatic drinks with smaller cups.

An interesting note from the same study, claimed that out of the 300 participants, the majority would expect to pay more for the larger brimmed cups.

Shape.

You guessed it, shape actually has a huge part in the taste of coffee. There are two major factors.

The first factor being the headspace. This is the space between the the top of the coffee and the lip of the mug. the more headspace there is, the more the coffee has room to aerate, when you take a sip of your coffee.

The second factor would be the tilt of the cup. If the surface area is greater and closer to the nose when the drinker tips tilts the cup, they can experience more of the aroma. Studies show that the smell of the coffee is one of the largest factors in the perceived flavors of the coffee.

All in all, there is a direct correlation in how your coffee is served, and the perceived flavors. So the next time you make a run to Ikea or Costco, take into consideration these few points and how they can best represent how you want to define the culture of your cafe.