Drinking coffee is as much about ritual as it is about waking us up, and generally, you order or make the same cup day in, day out.
But it can occasionally vary in taste. How can this be, when you’re doing nothing different?
Well, researchers say that it might down to the size of your coffee cup.
In March, a study is going to be published in Food Quality and Preference that will claim the size and thickness of your mug affects the perceived taste of your coffee.
The research centres around a survey taken by 300 volunteers from China, Colombia and the UK who were asked to rate a range of coffees in order of aroma, bitterness, intensity, temperature, caffeine-level and sweetness.
They were also asked to state how much they’d be willing to pay for the coffee – based on the size and shape of the mug.
Participants from all three countries expected the coffee in shorter, narrower cups to be more bitter, more aromatic and more intense.
Meanwhile, the cups with a wider diameter were thought to be sweeter, and it was this size that people from the UK and Columbia were willing to pay more for.
The Chinese participants generally said that they’d be willing to pay the same price, whatever the cup size.
‘If café owners, baristas, and crockery manufacturers want to manipulate people’s expectations of coffee, they should carefully consider the diameter and height of the cups they use/produce, as these features will likely affect expected aroma, bitterness, sweetness, and intensity,’ the study concludes.
When you consider that we generally consume espresso-like coffees in smaller quantities and milk-infused beverages in bigger cups, it seems obvious that people would associate large mugs with light and sweet coffee versus small cups for strong shots.
But it’s still interesting just how far our preconceptions go.