Two researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford have studied the effect of cup colour on the perceived taste of hot chocolate.
“The colour of the container where food and drink are served can enhance some attributes like taste and aroma,” as explained by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Along with her colleague Charles Spence, from the University of Oxford [UK], the scientist has come to the conclusion that chocolate tastes better in orange or cream coloured cup as compared to that in a white or red cup.
Both conducted an experiment in which 57 participants had to evaluate samples of hot chocolate served in four different types of plastic cups. They were the same size but of different colours: white, cream, red and orange with white on the inside.
Published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, the results reveal that the tasting volunteers found the flavour of chocolate served in orange or cream coloured cups was better.
However, the sweetness [not the flavour of the cocoa] and the aroma [the smell] where hardly influenced by the colour of the cup, despite the participants mentioning that the chocolate was slightly sweeter and more aromatic in a cream coloured cup.
“There is no fixed rule stating that flavour and aroma are enhanced in a cup of a certain colour or shade,” recognised Piqueras-Fiszman. “In reality this varies depending on the type of food, but the truth is that, as this effect occurs, more attention should be paid to the colour of the container as it has more potential than one could imagine.”
According to the study, these results are relevant for those scientists interested in understanding how the brain integrates visual information not just from the food itself but also from the container from which it is consumed.
In addition, this information could encourage chefs, catering professionals and even the packaging industry to think more about the colour of crockery and packaging. As the researcher explains, “it is a case of experimenting to understand how the container itself affects the perceptions that the consumers have on the product.”