In experiment 1, the white travel mug enhanced the rated “intensity” of the coffee flavour relative to the transparent mug. However, given slight physical differences in the mugs used, a second experiment was conducted using identical glass mugs with coloured sleeves. Once again, the colour of the mug was shown to influence participants’ rating of the coffee. In particular, the coffee was rated as less sweet in the white mug as compared to the transparent and blue mugs.
Based on previous work and anecdotal evidence, we explored the impact of the colour of a receptacle on people’s coffee drinking experience. If extrinsic cues influence a consumer’s experience of coffee, and if taste is affected by contrast effects, coffee tasted/drunk from a white mini mug should be rated as more bitter than from a clear mug instead. Given Piqueras-Fiszman et al.’s and Stewart and Goss’work with strawberry mousse and cheesecake, respectively, we thought that it is possible that the brown-bitter association might be enhanced by colour contrast. However, and with regard to the colour of coffee and the colour of the immediate surroundings against which it is presented, simultaneous contrast might be at work. Specifically, the brown of the coffee may be intensified if the coffee is served from a light blue mug. It should be noted that factors other than contrast effects can influence perception. For example, the cup in which the coffee is served may affect us as a function of our perception of the general properties of the cup (i.e., cheap vs. expensive , flimsy vs. strong). We have attempted to control these potentially confounding variables in the present study. That said, and to borrow from Piqueras-Fiszman et al., if the colour of the mug affects the way in which people perceive the colour of the coffee, and the colour of the coffee affects the perception of flavour, then the colour of the mug (and any contrast effect that it elicits) would be expected to influence the perceived properties of the coffee (e.g., bitterness).
The travel mug type exerted a significant influence on participants’ ratings of the perceived intensity of the café latté, F(2,15) = 4.78, p = .025 (see Figure Bonferroni-corrected post hoc tests revealed that the café latté was rated as significantly more intense (p = .026) when served from the white, ceramic mug than when served from the clear, glass mug. None of the other comparisons reached statistical significance. The mug type failed to exert any influence on participants’ ratings of the other attributes of the café latté (see Table .
hold an implicit “intensity” judgement for both white and brown colours and (2) ‘sensation transference’ is the mechanism at work here. Similar to an argument made by Piqueras-Fiszman et al., it seems more plausible to suggest that the white background of the coffee mug may have influenced the perceived brownness of the coffee and that this, in turn, was what influenced the perceived intensity (and sweetness) of the coffee. As we replicate the basic finding that the colour of the mug makes a difference, the correspondence between the visual appearance of the mug and aspects of the flavour suggests that colour contrast mechanisms may be at work here.