The study, published last month in the journal Flavour, looked at how the shade of a mug might influence our subjective experience of what's inside it. Specifically, the researchers had 18 participants drink lattes from mugs in three colors (clear, blue, and white). The subjects then rated their coffees in terms of flavor intensity, sweetness, and aroma, among other variables.
In the first experiment, the white mug was associated with higher intensity ratings compared to the clear one. But, because these mugs were slightly different shapes, the researchers repeated the experiment with identical mugs covered with different colored sleeves. This time around, participants rated the coffee as less sweet when it was in the white mug.
So, these results suggest that the white mug has the most influence on our ratings of coffee flavor — leading to the perception that coffee tastes more intense and less sweet, which may or may not be what you're after in a cup. However, this owner of a very cute blue mug begs to differ and would love to see how other, more extreme colors might compare in a larger group of participants.
Previous studies have also shown that the color of medications can affect how we view them and, consequently, how well they work for us. For instance, sedatives work best when they're a relaxing blue, and green ones are more effective at knocking out anxiety. And, there's a wealth of information out there about how the colors of rooms might affect our moods. So, maybe it's no wonder that a mug could contain such multitudes.