Coffee comes in a variety of flavors and scents, but as it turns out, the size of the cups we use to drink it might influence our perceptions of these qualities.
The study, which is due to be published in Food Quality and Preference in March, involved 300 coffee-drinkers in China, Colombia, and the U.K. They were asked to rate a range of mugs, which were of varying sizes and thickness, based on their aroma, bitterness, intensity, temperature, caffeine-level, and sweetness. To find out how the size of the mug influenced a person's perception of cost, participants were also asked how much they would be willing to pay for each up of coffee.
The results showed that volunteers in all three countries expected coffee in shorter and narrower cups to be more bitter with a stronger aroma and more intense flavor and coffee in cups with a wider diameter to taste sweeter.
When it came to price, participants in China said they would be willing pay the same amount, whatever the mug size. Those in Colombia and the U.K. said they would spend more on cups that were both wider and taller.
Although the link between mug size and cost might be obvious, the idea that people expect a stronger-flavored coffee when drinking from a smaller cup is a good to know for when you're making your own version of the drink for guests.
"These findings may be useful to those preparing coffee, as they suggest that coffee should be presented in certain mugs in order to convey a message that is congruent with the consumer's expectations," the study concluded.