How do you prefer to drink your coffee?
Your response to that question may be predetermined by your DNA.
That is the implication of a recent study published in Scientific Reports that examines coffee drinkers’ genetic markers. It was discovered that individuals whose genes predispose them to rapidly metabolise caffeine prefer black coffee and dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
The researchers analysed genetic data from individuals who also provided detailed information about their diets, including how much coffee or tea they consumed and how they sweetened it, if at all. Additionally, they examined self-reported preferences for bitter flavours found in some beers and dark chocolate.
The analysis discovered that individuals with genes associated with a faster caffeine metabolism were more likely to prefer the taste and aroma of black coffee and dark chocolate. Caffeine metabolizers, on the other hand, lacked the genetic variants associated with a preference for bitter flavours.
So why do they enjoy bitter black coffee in the first place? The study makes reference to the perceived caffeine content of the hot beverage. Because those who metabolise caffeine perceive coffee’s effects to be brief, the researchers assert, they seek out coffee that appears to be as strong as possible.
“Our interpretation is that these individuals associate caffeine’s natural bitterness with a psychostimulant effect,” said Marilyn Cornelis, an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition and medicine at Northwestern University and the study’s lead author. “They develop an association between bitterness and caffeine and the resulting boost. We are witnessing an acquired effect. They associate caffeine with a bitter taste, which is why they enjoy dark coffee and, similarly, dark chocolate.”