Posted in Kafevend Blog
Which of our favourite hot drinks smells the best? There's no contest really, is there? It has to be coffee; whether it's freshly ground and roasted beans, or even if you've just opened the seal on a jar of instant, coffee wins hands down! Tea just doesn't exude much of a scent at all. And the delectable aroma curling its way out of a coffee shop is as effective as any glossy advertisement, perhaps more so. Our sense of smell is hard wired to our brain, so that gorgeous roast coffee smell hooks us in a deeply fundamental way. And yet, how often does the taste fail to live up to the smell?
It turns out there's a good reason for the mismatch, boiling down to the fact that we effectively have, not one, but two senses of smell. There's the one we use to sense aromas reaching our nasal cavities from the outside environment, but there's also another which works from the inside out as it were; the air leaving our body creates an aroma while we're engaged in eating or drinking. Remember the blog about gulping your coffee? Thus a large part of our sense of taste is actually reliant on our ability to smell; think back to how bland everything tasted last time you had a heavy head cold. Alternatively, have a go at eating while pinching your nose shut!
So why does this so often make coffee smell better than it tastes? Unfortunately, our smell receptors register a more appetising scent when the aroma is coming in from the outside and that, as they say, is that. However, coffee's smell related problems don't end there. There's a greater predicament that we politely decline to mention most of the time, but it has its effect nevertheless. Yes, you know what we're referring to already of course; say it quietly... coffee breath.
The perennial problem of the committed coffee drinker raises such a social taboo that we tend to try and ignore it and back surreptitiously away a little instead. We've already agreed that coffee has a strong smell and strong odours have a lingering effect. Moreover, coffee has a high level of sulphur compounds which react with our own mouth's set of chemicals to produce that certain coffee breath bouquet. Coffee can also have a drying effect on the mouth which doesn't help matters because really more saliva is needed to wash the odour away, not less. It turns out that saliva contains oxygen and that's what is needed in the fight against bacteria; the sweet smelling breath of babies is more a result of their dribbliness than their milk only diet.
It's not all doom and gloom though. Perhaps you could chew a piece of gum after your coffee, which will promote saliva production as well as counteracting the coffee with mint. The age old practice of freshening the breath by chewing a clove could also be a top tip, especially if you're partial to the flavour. Perhaps the most obvious advice of all is also the most controversial – have a cup of tea instead. It has a mild aroma in the first place and it's far less acidic, thus 'tea breath' has never become a problem!