The ideal cup of coffee is difficult to find. Which coffee beans should be utilized? Which method of brewing is the best? How long should it be allowed to steep? Even when you believe you’ve created the perfect batch, it’s a constant struggle to maintain the ideal temperature. In the quest for the perfect cup of coffee, however, it appears that most people overlook one of the most important elements: the cup itself. Recent research indicates that the type of coffee cup you use can affect your perception of the flavor and aroma of the beverage.
If you’re like most people, selecting a mug for your morning coffee probably doesn’t require much thought. As long as it’s clean and accessible, it should suffice, right? It may be time to reconsider the vessel into which you pour your coffee.
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Food Quality and Preference, the type of coffee mug influences how the flavor is perceived. The study required coffee specialists and novices attending a specialty coffee event to taste samples from mugs with three distinct shapes. The participants were then asked to rate their experience according to aroma, acidity, sweetness, and how much they enjoyed it. Coffee served in a tulip mug (a mug with sloped sides) had a stronger, more intense aroma than coffee served in a divided cup (classic diner-style mug). In a split cup, coffee was rated as sweeter and more acidic by tasters.
A 2017 study examined how people anticipated their coffee to smell and taste based on the type of cup it was served in. Participants anticipated that the coffee would be more aromatic when served in a narrower mug and more bitter and intense when served in a shorter mug. Additionally, it was expected that coffee served in mugs with wider diameters would be sweeter. The research adds to the evidence that “visual information and a product’s likely (or anticipated) sensory qualities” are related.