Is your coffee not sweet enough? Put down the sugar. You may need to swap out your white coffee mug for a cup of a different color.
The color of your coffee mug affects how you taste your morning brew, according to a new study published in Flavour journal. White mugs boost coffee's perceived intensity, while blue and transparent mugs make drinkers think that their coffee is sweeter.
In two experiments, Australian researchers had a total of 54 subjects asses several characteristics of cups of coffee served in white, clear and blue mugs. The subjects rated coffee drunk from a white mug as both more intense and less sweet.
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The research is in line with other studies that have found different color plastic cups influence people's perception of hot chocolate (orange and dark-cream yield a more chocolatey flavor than white cups) and that coffee served in blue jars is perceived has having a milder aroma than coffee presented in other colored jars.
It also falls in line with local barista wisdom: The experiment was prompted by an off-the-cuff conversation with a barista who claimed that coffee consumed from a white mug tastes more bitter than when drunk from a clear, glass mug.
Researchers posit that the reason for the perceived increased intensity is the contrast between the brown coffee and the white mug. Seeing the coffee against the stark, white background of the mug makes it stand out more, boosting its perceived strength and thus increasing intensity and decreasing sweetness.
So if your coffee tastes weird, first check the color of your mug.