Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Why does coffee never taste as good as it smells?"

The Telegraph asks that question, and comes up with some interesting answers.

For many it is the first highlight of the day, just when you need it most: the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house first thing in the morning.

But scientists claim to have solved the mystery of why coffee never tastes as good as it smells.

. . .

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen Prof Barry Smith, of the University of London, said: “We have got two senses of smell.

“One sense is when you inhale things from the environment into you, and the other is when the air comes out of you up the nasal passage and is breathed out through the nose.”

The phenomenon is down to the fact that, although we have sensors on our tongue, eighty per cent of what we think of as taste actually reaches us through smell receptors in our nose.

The receptors, which relay messages to our brain, react to odours differently depending on which direction they are moving in.

“Think of a smelly cheese like Epoisses,” Prof Smith said. “It smells like the inside of a teenager’s training shoe. But once it’s in your mouth, and you are experiencing the odour through the nose in the other direction, it is delicious.

“Then there is the example of when they don’t match in the other direction. The smell of freshly brewed coffee is absolutely wonderful, but aren’t you always just a little bit disappointed when you taste it? It can never quite give you that hit.”

Only two known aromas - chocolate and lavender - are interpteted in exactly the same way whether they enter the nose from the inside or the outside.

There's more at the link.

I didn't know that!  Fascinating to think that flavor is actually more a matter of smell than taste . . .



Toejam said...

"Why does coffee never taste as good as it smells?"

That brings other things to mind, which fall into the same catagory.

But enough said!

Will said...

"Fascinating to think that flavor is actually more a matter of smell than taste . . ."

That's why when you have a stuffed up nose/sick, you can't taste your food.

mostly cajun said...

Old trick for science class: Hold your nose closed and bite an onion. tastes like apple if you eliminate the nose's input.


Rev. Paul said...

Chocolate & lavender? Figures. I don't like either.

Anonymous said...

I'd put real vanilla in that category.


Anonymous said...

...and tobacco...