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Some of us have a favourite coffee mug and some of us are too bleary-eyed of a morning to pay any attention to what mug we’re reaching for. Few of us, however, consider how much the type / colour of mug we’re using is influencing how we experience our morning coffee.
Firstly, taste doesn’t just come from our tongues. In fact, while our tongues play a part, it’s our brains that interpret taste. What’s more, taste is only a small part of the coffee-drinking experience. Smell, sight and touch all come together to help your brain perceive flavour.
So with this in mind, yes it does make a difference which mug you drink from.
Your perception of taste is influenced by a variety of factors. The result can be different for different people, but there are some commonalities, particularly when it comes to colour.
Studies have shown that white mugs enhance the intensity of the flavour of the coffee but diminish the ‘sweetness’. So white mugs tend to be perfect for those after a strong, bitter impactful coffee.
This isn’t necessarily the reason baristas use white coffee mugs, though. That’s more to do with the colour contrast. Aesthetically, a light-coloured vessel visually compliments the dark-coloured liquid, giving it a more vibrant and appealing appearance.
Red, blue and green coloured mugs have been shown to enhance sweetness. Theories abound that this is due to our subconscious associating these colours with fruit.
If you’re trying to cut down on sugar in your coffee, this might be a handy way to trick your brain.
Brown mugs can affect the way we perceive the strength of the coffee. Visually, a brown mug coupled with a brown drink sends a signal to the brain that this is a strong coffee.
Since we tend to associate a darker coffee colour with richness and quality, you might find that you enjoy coffee more in a brown mug.
Glass mugs have less of an effect than white mugs (in terms of bitterness), but a similar effect to red or blue mugs (sweetness).
So perhaps this explains why glass mugs are the vessel of choice in many coffee shops and restaurants – they’re great all-rounders!
(We’re big fans of double-walled glass mugs especially. Read our article here on why they’re a great choice for your home.)
Sensorimotor function also plays a large role in our experience of coffee. How a drinking receptacle feels in our hands and against our mouths, as well as its weight, influences our taste perception.
It goes without saying that overly coarse or chipped mugs might negatively influence our perception of the drink. But most mugs aren’t like this, so how can we differentiate?
Well, much of it is subjective and based on individual preferences to textures and shapes as well as individual senses. Memory also comes into it as we make associations between textures / shapes and past experiences / things we like.
However, generally, smoothness is favoured. This is one reason why porcelain earthenware has always been a highly valued item. Not only is it durable, it’s also smooth and delicate with porcelain mugs being thin and therefore easy to sip from.
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Whether you’re a coffee, tea or hot chocolate drinker, Pretty Little Home has a huge range of gorgeous mugs to suit all! Come and take a look.