Coffee Tastes Different In This Color Cup (& 5 Other Outrageous Studies About Caffeine)

Illustrated By Mallory Heyer.
Scientists work tirelessly to uncover the mysteries of the natural world, from the reasons we binge eat to the best way to wash our hands. Now, they’ve figured out why coffee served in white mugs tastes so bitter. Researchers found that the contrast between the color of coffee and a white mug makes the joe look and taste bolder. By the same line of thinking, coffee served in clear glass mugs tastes sweeter. 

This study got us thinking: What other crazy things do we know about coffee thanks to science? Answer: a lot. 

The Optimal Temperature To Serve Coffee
Researchers at the University of Texas were tired of brewing coffee, taking a sip, and burning off a layer of taste buds because the brew was scalding. So, they got 300 test subjects to determine what temperature makes coffee hot, but not mouth-burning. Those brave test subjects found that the sweet spot is 136 degrees Fahrenheit 

The Best Time To Drink Coffee 
We’ve been conditioned to get our caffeine fix first thing in the morning (just take a look at the line out the door at your local Starbucks around 8 a.m.). But, as Steven Miller, a psychology professor at Rosalind Franklin University, points out, early mornings are probably the worst time to drink a cup of coffee. If we pay attention to our circadian rhythms, specifically the points when our levels of cortisol (the hormone that makes us naturally feel alert) are low, it becomes clear that we should drink coffee in the late morning (9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and during the afternoon slump (1 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.). 
Illustrated By Mallory Heyer.
The Coffee-Ring Effect
If you spill coffee on your shirt, it looks a little like a tree stump when it dries — light on the inside, dark around the edges. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania spent more than a decade determining what causes those outer rings. The culprit: the shape of the particles. Round particles form a defined outer ring, while elongated ones do not.

Four Coffees A Day Keep The Ringing At Bay
A study tracked the incidence of tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ear) among 65,000 American women over the course of 18 years. Those who had one cup of coffee per day were 15% more likely to have tinnitus than those who had four or more.

Try A Coffee Nap

Coffee and naps don’t seem like a dynamic duo: One would think that the stimulative effects of coffee should stop you from being able to nap in the first place. But, it turns out the boost of energy you get from a cup of coffee doesn’t happen in an instant. It takes upwards of 20 minutes for the caffeine to be absorbed by your body. Researchers at Longborough University found that drinking a cup of coffee and immediately lying down for a 15-minute nap kept tired drivers more alert than trying just coffee or just a nap. 

Next: The Best (and Healthiest) Cup of Coffee: Could It All Be In The Brewing Method?

More from Mind


R29 Original Series