Baristas Beware of Blue Beverage Beakers
November 30, 2014 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Flavor scientists in Australia have discovered a link between cup/container color and perceived coffee taste.
posted by Xurando (66 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is this something I'd have to drink coffee with my eyes open in the morning to understand?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:50 PM on November 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


unlike a just-born animal, who is capable of nothing more than helplessly begging for sustanance to survive another day
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:54 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I should clarify: I'm describing the "person before coffee" side of things there
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:55 PM on November 30, 2014


Where'd that ig nobel link go
posted by saturday_morning at 3:56 PM on November 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't do coffee at all, but my colleague was recently saying that even though she brings in her coffee from home, when she makes it in work it tastes different and not as nice. She thought it might be the water but I couldn't taste any difference with tea. So I might ask her to compare the colour of cup she uses at home and the one in work. (You gotta pass the hours somehow and coffee cup experiments are so much more interesting than, you know, doing actual work.)
posted by billiebee at 3:57 PM on November 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is this like how hot Beef lo mein in a car smells terrible like garbage
but on a plate at home in front of TV is delicious?
posted by herrdoktor at 4:01 PM on November 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hear all flavor scientists have soul patches. How do women break into this field?
posted by oceanjesse at 4:10 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Shave the patch ceiling.
posted by michaelh at 4:35 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


And there was a study recently that men think food served on a round white plate tastes better than food from other plates. I'm sure they associate it with pleasant restaurant meals. I'm not questioning it. I'm just going to go buy round white plates. I need all the help I can get with my cooking.
posted by cda at 4:48 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I tried to get into the flavour sciences but my taste perception is shot from being a smoker so long. So I've started my own holistic flavour consulting firm. I'm the world's first flavouropath. You can send me your flavours and I'll check to see if their chakras are ok or whatever. One thing I've learned is that oftentimes, if you print on something that it is "cherry flavoured", that's enough - you can dump any old shit in there. Cherry is like the chicken of the flavour world.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:09 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I hear all flavor scientists have soul patches.

Actually it's traditional to have a moustache, they literally "stash" flavours. You can store flavours for checking later: just suck on your 'stash, or run your tongue across it. Take your work with you wherever you go! Girls can use novelty Groucho Marx moustaches and get the same result.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:11 PM on November 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Finally, proof that everything tastes better when served in gold-rimmed crystal.
posted by The Whelk at 5:15 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


what if the coffee served in a shoe?
posted by not_on_display at 5:23 PM on November 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why not black or brown mugs? I would associate those colors with coffee more. And I'd expect red to bring out "spicy" tones and green "earthy", unless the brain just doesn't happen to work like that.

My mug at work is white on the outside and dark blue on the inside, so how does that work?

Clearly, like every nutrition study ever, "further study is needed."
posted by Foosnark at 5:29 PM on November 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


what if the coffee served in a shoe?

I eventually got used to surrealist Starbucks, with the prices in heirgoyphs, the soundtrack of screaming wails, and the random assortments of liquids offered to drink. Yes, it's become just my cup of fur.
posted by The Whelk at 5:37 PM on November 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


Coffee in my favorite black mug tastes better than coffee in all the other mugs in the cabinet that have white interiors because when I drink from the black mug I can't see how gross and coffee-stained it is.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:40 PM on November 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Weirdly, coffee is the only thing that doesn't taste better out of a jelly jar. Everything else does.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:44 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Coffee in my favorite black mug tastes better because it has Ninja Turtles on it
posted by jason_steakums at 5:45 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this the devious plan behind Bluebottle Coffee? Because otherwise I don't understand why they would name themselves after a bug.
posted by miyabo at 6:04 PM on November 30, 2014


I don't drink need to drink coffee, I just drink whiskey out of a coffee-coloured mug labelled "coffee".
posted by mrjohnmuller at 6:24 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


But let's not pretend it's all psychological.

I mean, those metal travel cups influence the taste/smell. Old, old metal cups with deeply ingrained coffee stains further influence the taste. Cardboard cups influence the taste. The coffee passing over a plastic lid influences the taste. Dishwasher or other soap influences the taste. (Not to mention of course the dozens of variations in preparation.)

In conclusion, this study is an affront to us people who can objectively sense everything!
posted by sylvanshine at 6:26 PM on November 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: people who can objectively sense everything!
posted by hippybear at 6:38 PM on November 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I eventually got used to surrealist Starbucks

I still find their cup sizes confusing. I ordered a short and the barista poured it down my pants. If you order a Ceci n'est pas une grande they sometimes give it to you in a pipe, and if you order a grande, they sometimes give it to you in a canyon. Venti is okay if you bring your own umbrella. Also, don't order a dalí, it is considerably larger than a venti. Did I write considerably? I meant inconceivably. I ordered a dalí cappuccino and now the baristas and I live on a boat we lashed together out of floating chairs and cups. There is coffee as far as the eye can see. The first week we survived on oatcakes and the second week we steamed and ate Jake, the manager. All day I stitch a sail out of napkins. All night I cry latte tears.
posted by oulipian at 6:40 PM on November 30, 2014 [59 favorites]


I am disappointed that they only tested white, blue and transparent. My favourite mug is orangey-yellow, with the red mug as a close second. I would like them to test all the colours of the rainbow!
posted by Joh at 6:40 PM on November 30, 2014


I would like them to test all the colours of the rainbow!

I'm positive someone's already working on an entire cafe concept built around this. I'm all for insufferable coffee establishments (mostly because that's where my paycheck comes from), but after seeing this, I'm really worried that I'm going to have to start giving a goddamn pantone color with a coffee order.

Which, I realized as I was typing, sort of happens at a coffee shop I roast coffee for. There's a print shop nearby, and whenever they do a coffee run for all the folks in the shop, you tell them the pantone number for how much cream you want in your coffee. This straddles the line between charming and efficient oh so perfectly in my brain.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:47 PM on November 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Jesus I am tired of jelly jars.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:48 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Haha. I knew all you coffee drinkers were a bunch of posers. Taste the shade grown roast of this comment, suckers.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:04 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Not quite the same thing, and I wonder how true this is, but...I read somewhere that blue colored food is rare in nature, blueberries notwithstanding. Because the mold that grows on rotten food is often blue, humans have a natural, instinctual aversion to eating blue things. That goes way back into our lizard brains.

Now that I've typed that out it seems like bullshit.
posted by zardoz at 7:14 PM on November 30, 2014


blueberries are decidedly purple.
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


One thing I've learned is that oftentimes, if you print on something that it is "cherry flavoured", that's enough - you can dump any old shit in there. Cherry is like the chicken of the flavour world.

I hate cherry flavor and believe it could hide a myriad of flavor sins.
But I do have a true tale of this sort.
A friend of mine got a job working in an ice cream factory.
Whenever there was an overrun on any flavor of mix, it got set aside until the end of the shift.
All of the flavor overruns were then mixed together and flavored (and colored) as chocolate ice cream because, as long as that shit was brown, it tasted like chocolate to people.
Now, this was cheap, cheap ice cream, but the color was almost more important than the flavor.
posted by Seamus at 7:22 PM on November 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


blueberries are decidedly purple.

The bastards.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:24 PM on November 30, 2014


I eventually got used to surrealist Starbucks, with the prices in heirgoyphs, the soundtrack of screaming wails, and the random assortments of liquids offered to drink. Yes, it's become just my cup of fur.

Somehow I heard David Mitchell's voice as I read this.
posted by Lexica at 7:37 PM on November 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


There is a best word, and it is heirgoyphs
posted by oulipian at 7:46 PM on November 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


blueberries are decidedly purple.

There is NO BLUE FOOD!
posted by Windopaene at 8:12 PM on November 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was right all along. Milk IS better out of the red cup. It's not only that my brother happens to already be drinking his milk out of said red cup.
posted by Sara C. at 8:12 PM on November 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


the prices in heirgoyphs, the soundtrack of screaming wails, and the random assortments of liquids offered to drink.

this sounds a lot like my experience working at Starbucks
posted by threeants at 9:21 PM on November 30, 2014


Is this the coffee thread or the shroom one?
posted by Admira at 9:22 PM on November 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I know everyone is acting like this is ridiculous but THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE THOUGH. Coffee has a few different tastes: the acidic undercurrent and the warm flavor, the thing you can smell when coffee is being roasted or ground. Blue is a cool color and I 100% associate that with the sour acidity of too-bitter coffee. Using red or other warm-colored mugs to psychologically prime people to taste the warm-bitter part of coffee's flavor makes total sense.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:45 PM on November 30, 2014


Metafilter: Now that I've typed that out it seems like bullshit
posted by el io at 9:58 PM on November 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


Joking aside, the main problem with this "experiment" is that there's no way to control for the myriad other things that might be affecting the taste of the coffee. Glass and ceramic are entirely different materials. Presumably the difference in taste is down to the difference in materials, not color.

Even if you only look at the white mug vs. the blue mug, this is still not a terribly scientific study, unless the two mugs were identical except for color.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 PM on November 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


what if the coffee served in a shoe?

I think that's actually Bailey's.

Personally, I prefer my favourite ceramic mariner mug, but in descending order of preference will drink out of a metal mug, a paper cup, and (grudgingly) anything with a plastic lid. I'm also one of those deep-inhale-and-aerate coffee sippers so the material and mug mouth is more influential to my coffee experience.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:01 PM on November 30, 2014


I think that's actually Bailey's.

what did i just see
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 PM on November 30, 2014


Presumably the difference in taste is down to the difference in materials, not color.

It's like the 2nd paragraph of the 1st link : "However, given slight physical differences in the mugs used, a second experiment was conducted using identical glass mugs with coloured sleeves. Once again, the colour of the mug was shown to influence participants’ rating of the coffee."
posted by logicpunk at 10:07 PM on November 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


But that's ridiculous, since a glass mug with a colored sleeve is still a glass mug. It's still the same (non) color.

Ultimately I think all this proves is that cupping is a wildly inconsistent art. Which I could have told you after a month as a barista.
posted by Sara C. at 10:15 PM on November 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the glass is covered with something coloured, you are going to gain the impression of that colour, seems to me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:18 PM on November 30, 2014


When they said colored sleeves, I was imagining these. Which would really not affect the taste of your coffee. For real. Period. The end.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 PM on November 30, 2014


'Sleeve' usually indicates a full covering, it seems to me. And it looks like the paper says that colour does affect perception, but they haven't gone into detail as to how much of the contrasting colour needs to be present, so I'm not sure how you can make such definitive statements.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:25 PM on November 30, 2014


You are awfully confident for someone who was basically flat wrong about the methods reported in the paper. I admire that.
posted by logicpunk at 11:29 PM on November 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think that's actually Bailey's.

what did i just see


I'm OLD GREGG!
posted by Katemonkey at 3:15 AM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because the mold that grows on rotten food is often blue, humans have a natural, instinctual aversion to eating blue things.

Your comment is false because stinky cheese is awesome and blueberries are gross. MOLD FTW.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:14 AM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Where is the blue food?
posted by Xurando at 5:19 AM on December 1, 2014



I know it's in all in my head. My morning coffee seems to taste better in my thick, black, Darth Vader beer stein that I use as a coffee mug because it's cool and geeky and holds A LOT of coffee. Other vessels just don't give me the same coffee goodness.

The thought of blue beer stein Vader just seems wrong and icky.
posted by Jalliah at 5:36 AM on December 1, 2014


As an undergrad way back in 71 or72 I did a study with lemonade somewhat akin to this one. In short, asking whether undergrads would perceive a taste difference between identical lemonades of different colors. Turned out that pink lemonade tasted much sweeter than green lemonade which tasted distinctly bitter. Blindfolded subjects showed no such effect. Also interesting...the visual effect holds even when you know the lemonades were pored from the same uncolored batch.

I drink coffee from a white porcelain mug.
posted by txmon at 6:02 AM on December 1, 2014


It's like the 2nd paragraph of the 1st link : "However, given slight physical differences in the mugs used, a second experiment was conducted using identical glass mugs with coloured sleeves. Once again, the colour of the mug was shown to influence participants’ rating of the coffee."

Yes, but what if the mugs were different? What if they were different shapes, or even had different coffee in them? Or one of them did not have coffee, but orange juice? That would definitely be a different taste! I haven't clicked on anything yet, but I'm imagining two mugs, one with a bird in it, and one with just water, and the bird pecks at me, and makes me angry.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 AM on December 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am deeply attached to my little vacuum insulated pink glass demitasse cup even though its previous incarnation imploded on its way to my lips and filled my right eye with milky coffee and scores of tiny, glittering, pink-mirror shards of glass.
posted by jamjam at 8:29 AM on December 1, 2014


Interestingly, I've read in a book history of coffee house culture that the first coffee cups were white with a blue rim around the edge. I'll try to find the reference again, but before I learned this, my favorite coffee mug was exactly like that.
posted by Perko at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2014


Sara C.: Joking aside, the main problem with this "experiment" is that there's no way to control for the myriad other things that might be affecting the taste of the coffee. Glass and ceramic are entirely different materials. Presumably the difference in taste is down to the difference in materials, not color.
It would help if you bothered to read the source before criticizing it. They controlled for this by using identical containers with different-colored sleeves.

The number of people eager to render Expert Opinions On Science >> the number of people able to actually think scientifically.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2014


Kudos for doubling down on your opinion by imagining your own set of test conditions, however.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:06 AM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


An alternate explanation is that of marketing guru and 'medical anthropologist' Clotaire Rapaille who argues that we have a cultural imprint of coffee that is tied to the smell. (Ex.) So the legend goes, Rapaille was hired by Folger's years ago to figure out how to market coffee, and Rapaille determined that the cultural imprint/code for coffee is the smell so that Folger's had to market to "smell."

Rapaille reasoned that when we are young, our first experience with coffee is when your mother is cooking breakfast. Your mother loves you and holds you close with coffee on her breath, is going to feed and protect you, and is therefore providing you the basic evolutionary needs to make you safe and happy. As a result, we develop an imprint or code for the smell of coffee that it represents the safe home of our happy infancy for which we yearn. Rapaille concluded that the way to develop the strongest emotional connection with a customer is to focus on the smell which is what we think of with coffee.

The story is that Folger's then came up with the famous "Peter" ad that goes all in on the smell of coffee and introduced the "waking up to the smell" imagery, and that, since then, Folger's has always included in print ads the smell wafting off a poured glass. As Rapaille tells it, after Folger's used his smell code in its ads, its profits soared as more people wanted Folger's.

I have no idea if any of this shit is true, but I always found it interesting.
posted by dios at 9:11 AM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Rapaille reasoned that when we are young, our first experience with coffee is when your mother is cooking breakfast. Your mother loves you and holds you close with coffee on her breath, is going to feed and protect you, and is therefore providing you the basic evolutionary needs to make you safe and happy. As a result, we develop an imprint or code for the smell of coffee that it represents the safe home of our happy infancy for which we yearn. Rapaille concluded that the way to develop the strongest emotional connection with a customer is to focus on the smell which is what we think of with coffee.

Apparently when my mom was a little girl, she really wanted to like coffee because her mother drank it and she wanted to be like Grandma. And it smelled so, so good! So every so often she'd sneak a sip from Grandma's cup and then cry because it tasted so awful.
posted by Lexica at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


My parents had a cat when I was little who was ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with drinking coffee and as soon as she could smell it brewing she'd start lurking around waiting for someone to leave a cup unattended, so she could go face first into the hot coffee and drink madly until she got caught and scolded.

I thought for a long time the purpose of saucers was to put on top of the cup to keep the cat from drinking your coffee, because that's how they were used in our house. I was very confused about why restaurants had saucers when they didn't have cats lurking around.

She did not have a mug color preference.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:18 AM on December 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


> Your comment is false because stinky cheese is awesome

Ah, yes, another comment from Eyebrows McGee that I'll be favoriting, she's so smart. Oh, wait, where's she going with that thought...

and blueberries are gross.

This is so wrong that I have to go back through all the comments of yours that I've favorited and de-favorite them. You're so wrong that it's sucking favorites out of other, innocent comments.

MOLD FTW

The rare blueberry I have that tastes bad is moldy, I think. Blue cheese is wonderful. Blueberries are wonderful. But combine the two...
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:19 AM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


I dunno, maybe some nice blini with blue cheese and a little dollop of blueberry compote might be quite nice.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:05 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


My favorite coffee cup is the big black one. If it's in the dishwasher, the second favorite is the big navy blue one. Both, dishwasher? Third favorite is the big white ones.

In the morning, my favorite color coffee cup is the big one.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


New rule for the site: just as with cats, any comment about your favorite mug has to include a photo.

Currently I have two favorite mugs (in case one is in the dishwasher). One is from Marimekko and makes me feel classy. The other lets the world know I'm in charge.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:06 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Corpse, really? Mine's pretty boring. A black coffee cup.

Only, you know... BIG!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:54 PM on December 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


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