Grounded in science – the fa-brew-lous world of coffee and color

The juice of the wonderful coffee bean is one of the most popular beverages in the world and has been for millennia. But unlike other drinks, coffee has a special relationship with those of us who love drinking it, full of emotional links to people, places and feelings. But did you know that it’s not just the people you drink it with and the taste of the beans that creates these precious feelings? Mug color and coffee bean pack design both play a key role in how we experience the taste of coffee  - custom designs and colors can take drinking it to a whole new level of personalization. (For those who like putting on their white coats and calling themselves ‘professor’, the term for this sort of taste-color science is ‘cross-modal perception.’) Let’s take a closer look.

A study in the Flavor Journal found that drinking coffee from a brown cup meant drinkers usually found the flavor to be strong, whereas red meant a richer, fuller coffee. A blue cup created the expectation that the coffee was milder in both taste and aroma, and yellow made them think it was a weaker blend. Glass mugs created the impression that the coffee was sweeter (maybe because we know sugar is clear and crystalline, and sometimes comes in glass bowls).

Interestingly, the color of the mug also makes you experience coffee temperature differently; served in a red cup it was rated the hottest, followed by yellow, green and finally blue. This is probably because it follows the patterns we known about in nature – red is the color of fire, ice looks blue, etc.

Our brains are clever, mysterious things. They are able to make subconscious associations with the color of the mug based on things like value – we often associate black with premium things, exclusivity and quality, whereas green can mean eco-friendly, disposable or even cheap. And the human brain can notice subtle color contrasts that we wouldn’t consciously give a second thought to. (It’s not random chance that Heinz chose that strange green color for their baked-bean cans – it contrasts very sharply with the orange beans). The same is true in the world of coffee – the contrast between a crisp white mug and a rich brown coffee is very noticeable, but would it feel the same if you sipped it from a brown mug?

If the color of your cup is enough to make your brain think a certain way, imagine what a picture of a loved one (or yourself!) on a custom bag of coffee beans could do, such as those on the unique personalized coffee bags from Custom Label Coffee. Seeing a loved one’s face is known to release a ‘happiness’ chemical called dopamine in the brain and can have a transformational impact on how we experience things – including your daily cappuccino.

Phew, I think you’ve earned a coffee after all that! Now, what color mug would you like?