The color of your cup can affect how your coffee tastes, new research has found. The study, published in online journal Flavor, used white, blue and clear mugs to investigate whether people's perception of a latte was influenced by mug color.
The researchers found that coffee can taste more intense, strong or bitter when sipped from a white mug. Why? Coffee looks browner when it's surrounded by white, and this causes people to perceive the flavor as being more intense or bitter and less sweet.
Interestingly, the study also found that many people blur the distinction between bitterness and strength.
With so many factors influencing your experience of a cuppa, it's helpful to know how the experts taste theirs. Follow these tips from McManus below.
If you're drinking an espresso, swirl it around to blend the liquid with the cream and release the aromatics. Let the coffee sit for up to three minutes to cool, as a lower temperature will help you notice more flavors.
While the coffee is cooling, stick your nose in the cup and smell it. This is when you'll pick up aromas such as chocolate, caramel and malt. When you're ready to taste, either take two small sips (the first sip helps your palate "acclimatise") or take one longer sip, letting the coffee flow over your tongue. Different areas of your tongue will pick up different elements of flavor.
"The first thing that should hit you is a strong, sparkling acidity," McManus says. "Some people confuse this with bitterness, because it's quite strong on your palate."
McManus says acidity is more about the sensation of fruit, such as tart, sugary or syrupy, rather than the flavor. "This is probably the easiest thing for a novice to pick up on."
Let the coffee sit in your mouth for a second, and when you swallow, take a small breath in. This will let you pick up on even more flavors, particularly floral notes. If the coffee has been well extracted, you should also get a nice, long aftertaste.
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