There's so much more that affects how we perceive flavor than just what's in the cup. Research into the multisensory nature of flavor perception has already been well-established in the wine and beer worlds, but The Coffee Sensorium—a research project by Brazilian scientist Fabiana Carvalho—is bringing that same scientific rigor to the world of specialty coffee. And now The Coffee Sensorium needs your help. Teaming up with Professor Charles Spence, Carvalho is calling on all specialty coffee professionals and consumers to take a quick survey about flavor perception in coffee.
We have covered some aspects of Carvalho’s previous work that focused on specialty coffee, specifically how certain attributes of the receptacle—shape, color, and weight—shift flavor perception. But in this new collaborative study between the University of São Paulo, Brazil and the University of Oxford, UK, Carvalho and Spence are looking to expand upon that research by testing how the shape and color of espresso cups affect flavor perception across cultural lines.
To glean this type of cross-cultural data, Carvalho and Spence have developed an online study to assess people's sensory expectations of an espresso coffee using only visual cues. In the study (that takes roughly 10-15 minutes to complete), participants will be presented different cup shapes and cup colors and will assess certain attributes—bitterness, sweetness, acidity, etc—according to their expectations.
Since the aim of this online study is to investigate cross-cultural effects, Carvalho and Spence are making the study available to the specialty coffee community in as many countries as possible. Currently available in five languages—English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Korean—the study is expected to be available in nine different tongues by the end of January, with data being collected until August.
The survey is open to all specialty coffee professionals and any consumers who have been drinking specialty coffee for at least one year. Your input is extremely valuable. To take part, visit the University of Oxford Department of Experimental Psychology's official website here.
Go make Science happen!
Juliana Ganan is a Brazilian coffee professional and journalist. Read more Juliana Ganan on Sprudge.
Top image via The Coffee Sensorium By Fabiana Carvalho: A Revolution Of Flavor Perception by Juliana Ganan