serious Kape

Noisy Coffee

Home coffee brewers, especially those who only started during the pandemic, I know I’m not the only who will commit to a specific dripper/brewer and beans combination for the day. Now, unless you’re a robot (or using a precision brewer), you won’t brew coffee 100% similar every time but you can make it as close as possible – especially if you’ve taken notes (which I don’t). But does it still happen that however hard you try, your resulting cups of coffee still taste different from each other? According to these articles, that may be because of what you’re hearing while drinking the coffee.

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Coffee taste is apparently affected by our auditory senses as well

The study conducted by the Luis Bravo-Moncayo et al. and published in the Food Quality and Preference journal had participants blind test two similar cups of coffee while listening to different noise levels through earphones. According to the Abstract of the study, the participants were exposed “to a louder (~85 dBA) vs less loud (−20 dBs) version of the same background noise of a food court in busy hours.” and findings have been interesting.

To summarize, people tend “to be less sensitive to specific sensory and hedonic attributes of the coffee under louder noise… ore evident concerning the perceived bitterness and aroma intensity of the coffee” and even go on to say that they were “less willing to pay and purchase the coffee, relative to less loud sounds.” Remember, they were drinking the same coffee, but they didn’t know it. The authors of the study go on to say that the result of the study may imply that change in the noise level may moderate sugar intake.

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There’s a lilydrip in there

Shop owners may find a lot of value in the result of this study, but these are also interesting findings for home brewers. Your coffee may taste different from when you brewed it in the morning to the afternoon, especially if you live in a area where there are a lot of noises (construction, vehicles, kids, dogs, inconsiderate neighbors who blast karaoke as if the whole street wants to hear them sing). Although the study seems to not use music, the type of music you listen to or the noise level in whatever show/movie you are watching while drinking coffee may also have the same effect.

Look, we all would say that we prefer drinking coffee during quiet times (mostly early in the morning), and it looks like there’s a reason for that aside from just preference. Taking the noise level into consideration may also help you make someone not used to specialty coffee appreciate the taste of it without any sweeteners or dairy (or worse, artificial creamers).

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So is drinking coffee in the quiet of morning the optimal time to caffeinate?

Is it why overtly sweet frappes are popular in overcrowded second wave shops, because all the noise makes us think coffee from those are bitter? I don’t know. But I do prefer drinking in second wave shops that are smaller or have less foot traffic because of the time I went there in the day.

How about you? Have you noticed any correlation with how quiet it is with how much you like your coffee’s taste?


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