Posted in Kafevend Blog

Colour plays a big part in our perceptions- for example, blue can have a calming effect, whilst a combination of yellow and black can alert us to danger. Several of these reactions are learned skills, but with new research, the notion that colour can also cause a subconscious and more subtle effect has come to the fore.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Polytechnic University of Valencia have conducted a study involving 57 volunteers, who were each given hot chocolate to try in four different colour plastic cups: white, red, cream and orange. The volunteers were asked to rate each drink for flavour, aroma, sweetness and overall enjoyment. What they didn't realize was that the hot chocolate was exactly the same in each cup. The study discovered that participants rated the drink served in the cream and orange cups higher than those in the red or white ones, but for different characteristics; the cream cup enhanced the perception of sweetness, whilst the orange cup made the flavour itself seem more intense.

According to the report, the findings have a wider impact than on merely how we serve our hot chocolate- “These results are relevant to sensory scientists interested in how the brain integrates visual input (such as colour) not only from the food itself, but also from the container, packaging or plateware from which it is being consumed.”

The research would appear to consolidate previous work carried out into the effect of containers and crockery on our response to food and drink. For example, squash served in blue cups seems better able to satisfy thirst than the same drink presented in a red cup. Where coffee is concerned most people associate brown packaging with a blend that will pack more of a punch and by contrast, expect coffee with blue or yellow packaging to be a smoother, milder drink.

Perhaps this all comes as no great surprise. How many of us prefer an Earl Grey in a bone china mug or save that earthenware mug(and yes, perhaps it's even orange) at the back of the cupboard for a nice, rustic hot chocolate on a cold, winter's evening?

by Kafevend

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