It's all about the aroma of coffee

Did you know that the perfect cup of coffee is as much about smell as it is about temperature and flavour? Read on to find out more.

Just smell how good that tastes

When something ‘tastes’ great, like that first sip of coffee in the morning, there’s so much more going on than the flavour your experiencing on your tongue. In fact how we enjoy food and drink involves all of our senses.

We use sight to decide if something looks appetising, hearing to check it’s making the right sound - maybe the right kind of noise as we stir our spoon. We want to feel that our coffee is the right temperature and enjoy its smooth sensation in our mouth and of course the flavour is essential.

But above all this comes smell. The aroma of our coffee is everything. In fact, as much as 80% of what we ‘taste’ is actually what we’re smelling. We can smell through both the nose and the mouth.

The true flavours of coffee are in the aromas

We can taste five basic aspects of flavour with our mouths:

  • Sweet

  • Salt

  • Bitter

  • Sour

  • Umami - savoury flavour

But via smell - through the nose and the roof of the mouth - we are able to sense up to 10,000 different types of aroma molecules that are carried through the air from our food and drink. They are the essential elements of what we think of as flavour or taste.

With coffee alone there are huge variations of flavour. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has produced a flavour wheel that lists nine basic aromas:

  • Roasted

  • Spices

  • Nutty / cocoa

  • Sweet

  • Floral

  • Fruity

  • Sour

  • Fermented

  • Green / vegetative

  • Other

Beneath these top level categories are a further 28 sub-categories of aroma - things like “brown spice” and “tobacco”. Beneath these are a further 73 aroma category refinements - for example “nutmeg” or “honey”.

But the simple truth is, you can’t detect any of these subtle flavours or dimensions of deliciousness without your sense of smell.

As an experiment, why not brew up a delicious hot cup of coffee right now? Take a sip. Hold it in your mouth a little with the mouth slightly open before swallowing, and really explore what’s happening in your mouth. You may detect many things: roasted flavour, nuttiness, sweetness, maybe even fruity flavours.

Now hold your nose, blocking both nostrils and repeat the exercise, this time with your mouth closed. You’ll find the difference in what you’re tasting astonishing.

No wonder coffee doesn’t taste so good on the move

Have you ever noticed that coffee you drink from a disposable cup never tastes as good as coffee from a mug? Even if you’ve bought it from your favourite coffee shop or cafe where they usually serve a fine cup of coffee?

That’s because when you buy your coffee to go, you’re usually drinking it with a lid on, sipping through a hole in the lid. Apart from being an annoying way to drink coffee, it’s also stopping the amazing aroma from the coffee reaching your nose and mouth.

Of course, with an rCUP, that’s no longer a problem. We’ve designed it with aroma release in mind. The 360 degree drinking experience ensures that you’re getting all the good smells so coffee from our reusable mug tastes as good as it does from your favourite mug at home. You’re welcome.

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