How coffee affects our sense of taste

How coffee affects our sense of taste

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Coffee influences the perception of taste

For many people, morning coffee is part of the daily routine. Few people think that they may influence their sense of taste. A research team from the Danish Aarhus University, however, has now been able to demonstrate that both the perception of sweet food and of bitter food is changed by enjoying coffee.

According to the current study, coffee has a surprising effect on the sense of taste: Bitter dishes taste less bitter and sweet tastes even sweeter after coffee consumption, researchers from the Danish Aarhus University report in the specialist magazine "Foods". The study sheds new light on the sense of smell and taste.

Sweet and bitter taste

The researchers examined the smell and taste of 156 test subjects before and after drinking coffee. They found no changes in the sense of smell, but the sense of taste was significantly impaired, according to the researchers. "When people were tested after drinking coffee, they were more sensitive to sweetness and less sensitive to bitterness," said Prof. Alexander Wieck Fjældstad in a press release from Aarhus University on the study results.

Can the taste sense be influenced easily?

To rule out that the caffeine in the coffee caused the changes in taste, the researchers repeated the experiment with decaffeinated coffee, but the result remained the same. Some of the bitter substances in the coffee are probably responsible for the effect, according to Prof. Fjældstad. It was quite a surprise that the registration of sweetness and bitterness can be influenced so easily.

Better understanding of the sense of taste

The observed effects on the sense of taste could also explain why the taste is much milder from a piece of dark chocolate to coffee, because the bitterness is downplayed and the sweetness is enhanced, explains Prof. The study enables a better understanding of how our taste buds work, even if further research is now required. The knowledge gained could then possibly be used to significantly reduce the sugar and calorie content in our food. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Alexander W. Fjaeldstad, Henrique M. Fernandes: Chemosensory Sensitivity after Coffee Consumption Is Not Static: Short-Term Effects on Gustatory and Olfactory Sensitivity; in: Foods (published April 14, 2020),
  • Aarhus University: Coffee changes our sense of taste (published April 21, 2020),

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