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The haptic experience can make a big difference to coffee, says a Brazilian study

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MILAN – The haptic or touching experience makes a big difference to coffee, with a rough cup leaving a bitter after-taste while the same coffee tastes sweeter from a smoother vessel, according to a study led in Brazil. Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo ran tests involving experts and regular drinkers. More than 230 people took part in the research.

They drank high-grade Brazilian coffee from a smooth porcelain cup and also used a mug made of white ceramic with a rough finish on the outer and inner walls. Both were a similar shape and weight.

Psychologist Dr Fabiana Carvalho said: ‘The coffee was perceived as sweeter when tasted from a smooth-surface cup. The coffee was rated as more acidic from the rough cup.’

She added: ‘These results demonstrate that haptic cues influence the judgment of basic tastes as well as mouth-feel attributes in specialty coffee.

‘The cup in which the coffee is served is an essential element in terms of turning the consumption of specialty coffee into a truly engaging multi-sensory experience.’

The research team wrote in the journal Food Quality and Preference: ‘Both quality-graders and amateurs judged the after-taste as significantly more dry when tasted from the rough rather than from the smooth cup.

‘The results demonstrate for the first time that ‘sensation transference’ from the haptic feel of cup texture can significantly affect the quality of specialty coffee after-taste.’