Finding your morning cup to be a little bitter? Blame it on the mug.
A study published in the November edition of the journal Flavour found that simply the color of a mug influences the way we perceive the taste of the coffee. Researchers had participants rate identical brews served in white, transparent and blue mugs. The coffee served in the white mug was described as most intense -- or bitter -- than in the other two colored mugs. Researchers suspect the white mug color against the dark brown coffee provided the greatest contrast -- making the coffee look darkest, and causing people to experience it as more intense. When the coffee was served in the clear mug, drinkers reported it to taste the sweetest of the three.
Beyond coffee, color has an impact on the way we experience food and drink. We are psychologically conditioned to expect certain tastes from certain colors; we combine sensory clues so that when we see the red of a raspberry jam, for example, we anticipate its sweet, tangy taste. As neuroscientist Dana Small writes in Scientific American, "Food can be identified by sight alone -- we don't have to eat a strawberry to know it is a strawberry." If that strawberry was blue, you might have a different experience identifying it and tasting it.