Coffee + Tea The Best Coffee Comes in White Mugs [Study]

Published on January 17th, 2015 | by Jill Ettinger


The Best Coffee Comes in White Mugs [Study]


The Best Coffee Comes in White Mugs [Study]

Not loving the taste of your coffee? Have you considered changing the color of your coffee mug? According to recent research, it may make all the difference between ordinary and the best coffee ever.

Ask anyone who drinks coffee or tea with me and they’ll tell you that I’ll do my best to make sure I drink my beverage in a contrasting colored coffee mug. If the only option is a dark mug, I might skip the experience altogether. I’ve always contested that coffee doesn’t taste good in dark mugs. It always tastes cold and sweet to me even if it’s steaming hot. For the longest time I thought this was just some strange OCD behavior of mine, but I might not be as crazy as I think (but probably). Turns out I’m just a science statistic.

The study validates my preference: coffee tastes more like coffee in a white (or light) colored mug.

“The researchers served 18 participants the same cup of coffee, in one of the three similarly shaped but differently colored vessels, and then asked them to rate their sweetness, aroma, bitterness, quality, and acceptability,” reports the Washington Post.

“What they found is that the coffee-drinkers tended to experience the same cup of coffee differently depending on the color of the glassware they drank it from.”

“The color of the mug really does seem to have an impact,” Charles Spence, head of the crossmodal research laboratory at Oxford University and one of the study’s authors told the Post. “We found a particularly significant difference between the white mug and the clear one.”

It turns out, when drinking coffee in a white mug, the study subjects noted that the brew had a more coffee-like intense bitter flavor than it did in a clear or blue mug.

“The opposite was true for perceived sweetness—participants noted less sweetness when drinking from the white mug than they did when drinking from both the blue and clear glass mugs,” the Post explained.

“I have been working for more than a decade studying the impact colors can have on the experience of food,” Spence said. “It doesn’t just happen in laboratories—it happens in restaurants, too.”

So there you have it. I’m not a total loon. Please don’t serve me coffee in a blue mug. And definitely don’t do this to it.

Related: How to Grow Amazing Roses with Coffee Grounds

Coffee image via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Jill Ettinger is co-director of Eat Drink Better. She is the senior editor at and A focus on food, herbs, wellness and world cultural expressions, Jill explores what our shifting food, healing systems and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Stay in touch on Twitter @jillettinger and .

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