The shape of the cup influences aroma, taste, and hedonic judgements of specialty coffee
Carvalho FM., Spence C.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The drinking experience depends on the multisensory integration of attributes of the drink itself as well as the characteristics of the drinking vessel, not to mention the environment in which the drink happens to be tasted. The receptacles from which we drink have been shown to affect the perception of the sensory and hedonic attributes of various different beverages (especially in the world of wine). The present study was designed to investigate whether the shape of the cup would also influence amateur and/or expert consumers’ perception of aroma, taste, and hedonic evaluation of specialty coffee. A large-sample experiment (involving 276 participants) was conducted in a specialty coffee event in Brazil. The participants were divided into three testing groups according to the shape of the cup in which the coffee was served (tulip, open, or split). Tasters evaluated their experience of the aroma, sweetness, acidity, and liking of the coffee. Multivariate analysis of variance was conducted in order to assess the effect of cup shape on sensory and hedonic ratings, and whether expertise modulated these ratings. Both amateurs and experts judged: (1) the aroma to be significantly stronger in the tulip cup, and (2) the sweetness and acidity to be significantly more intense in the split cup. Interestingly, the split cup received the lowest liking scores from the amateurs, but not from the experts. Taken together, these results demonstrate for the first time that the shape of the cup significantly affects the perception of the sensory attributes of specialty coffee, for both amateur and expert consumers. The implications of these results for the design of coffee cups that convey some functional and/or perceptual benefit as well as possible directions for future research are discussed.