Does Your Coffee Cup Color Change the Taste?

Now that Hula Daddy has logo’d white espresso cups, almond coffee mugs and multicolored travel mugs you are faced with an intense moment of critical decision making. There you are sheltering in place getting bored and looking for a little excitement. You want to add a logo’d Hula Daddy coffee cup to spice up your life. You have to pick a cup for your coffee but which color cup will enhance your gustatory experience in imbibing Hula Daddy Kona Coffee? This is not a casual decision. It requires serious thought and analysis. Failure can lead to bad taste, indigestion and heartburn. (OK, maybe just not the best taste.)

In the past ten years there have been a number of scientific studies where participants are given the same beverage in different colored cups. In each study, there has been a statistically different response to exactly the same coffee regarding warmth, flavor, intensity and sweetness based on the color of the cup.

In one study, 120 undergraduates were given the same temperature coffee in cups with 4 different colors, red, yellow, green and blue. The millennials rated the red cup as containing the warmest beverage (38.3%), followed by the yellow cup (28.3%), the green cup (20.0%), and the blue cup (13.3%.) Coffee cup color and evaluation of a beverage’s “warmth quality” Nicolas Guéguen Céline Jacob First published 29 August 2012, Col Res Appl, 39, 79–81, 2014 So, if you can accept the cognitive dissonance that millennials have decision making skills, then you can also accept that the temperature of your coffee can be controlled by the color of your cup.

In two studies Australian volunteers were asked to rate caffe lattes in three different glass cups; white, blue and clear. The lattes in each cup were exactly the same. In both of the experiments the volunteers stated that the latte in the white cup had the most intensity and coffee flavor. However, the participants rated the lattes on sweetness differently. Coffee in the blue cups was reported by the most participants as the sweetest, while the white cups was reported as the least sweet. Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee? George H Van Doorn, Dianne Wuillemin & Charles Spence Flavour volume 3, Article number: 10 (2014)

In another study, 457 participants were asked to rate black coffee in pink, yellow, green and white cups on sweetness. They were all given two different coffees, a Brazilian coffee and a Kenyan coffee. In each case, the largest group of participants rated the coffees in the pink cups as sweeter than the coffee in white cups. The ratings for the other two colors were not statistically different. Cup colour influences consumers’ expectations and experience on tasting specialty coffee Fabiana M.Carvalho, Charles Spence Food Quality and Preference Volume 75, July 2019, Pages 157-169

The fact that the color of your coffee cup affects your perception of warmth, flavor and sweetness shouldn’t be surprising. Social scientists call this crossmodal perception i.e. that one of your senses affects your perception of another sense. There are a number of scientific studies regarding how the color of the container affects human perception of flavor. It is no accident that Cadbury chocolate comes in a purple wrapper, or that Heinz baked beans come in a turquoise can. Human perception of flavor is affected by the color of the packaging. Does Food Color Influence Taste and Flavor Perception in Humans? Spence, C., Levitan, C.A., Shankar, M.U. et al. Chem. Percept. 3, 68–84 (2010).

So now that you are equipped with this amazing knowledge you suddenly realize that the secret to a great cup of coffee might not be just the coffee. It could also be the cup. Having this information you are now able to pick just the right coffee cup for you.
Bon Appetit

Hula Daddy Kona Coffee LLC is a boutique farm in Kona, Hawaii that grows, processes and roasts its own current crop coffee beans. We grow 7 different varieties of coffee and process them using 4 different methods. We roast date every bag of our coffee.
In 2019, Hula Daddy won First, Fourth and Fifth place in the Kona Coffee Competition. In 2018, Forbes Magazine picked Hula Daddy as one of the Top 12 Coffee Roasters in the United States and the only one that grows its own coffee. Also in 2018, Coffee Review selected Hula Daddy out of the thousands of coffees it tastes every year as the Number 1 Coffee of 2018. In 2017, we came in Second in the Hawaii Cupping Competition and in the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. In 2017, Laura’s Reserve SL-28 received 97 points from Coffee Review and was Number 2 in the Top Coffees of 2017. In December 2016, Coffee Review rated our Laura’s Reserve SL-28 as Number 3 in the Top Coffees of 2016.

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