The effect that color has on our perception of taste is pretty well documented, but the psychological impact that our tableware has on us is a growing area of study. Like me, you might have a “favorite mug.” Why do you reach for it, morning after morning, passing over all the other perfectly suitable cups in your cabinet? Does coffee really taste better out of it? Or are we just psyching ourselves out?
Case in point: my favorite cup is a smallish, Tiffany-blue mug with a sort of streaky brown lip (it’s much nicer than I’m making it sound, I promise). So it was no surprise to me that a recent study found that coffee tastes more bitter when drunk from a white cup, and less bitter when drunk from a clear or blue one. Ah-ha!
There are a variety of reasons for this. The color brown is associated with bitterness, and when paired with a white cup, the brown of your coffee seems even browner, and therefore more bitter. The opposite is true for blue and clear.
What does this mean for coffee drunk from a mug in the Pantone color of the year, Marsala? Since we favor tableware in more exciting colors, we’ll never know, but according to (limited) research, drinking brown coffee from a brown-red cup will make it taste perhaps slightly more earthy, but more or less the same. Which is kind of what Pantone’s trend forecasters are saying about 2015—let it be known we 100% disagree. We are so ready for a game-changing year ahead. (More on the big things MOLD has in store soon.)