Taste and Color


Hot Chocolate Tastes Much Better In an Orange Cup, and other interesting facts about perception.

Scientists have discovered that an orange or creme-colored cup definitely makes chocolate taste better, while a white or red cup will not enhance the flavor. The discovery demonstrates once again that our taste buds are definitely influenced by the colors our eyes perceive.


Published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, the research by scientists at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and Oxford University involved 57 participants. They had to taste the same type of hot chocolate in cups of four external colors—white, creme, red and orange—and white interior. The results were clear: all of them thought the chocolate in the orange and creme cups was better than the others, even while it was the exact same type. Some even said that the chocolate in the creme cups tasted sweeter and was more aromatic.

We already knew that the color of food itself may affect our perception of taste. A spicy meal, for example, will be perceived as hotter than the same food if it’s more red. We also knew that containers themselves may affect the flavor but the relationship is still not well understood. There are no common rules, and changes depend on the food itself, says Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, one of the authors of the study:

The color of the container where you serve food and drinks can enhance some of its attributes, like flavor and aroma. There’s no fixed rule to tell which color enhances what food. This varies depending on the type of food but the truth is that the effect is there. Companies should pay more attention to the container because it has a lot more potential than what you imagine.

The same team has conducted other experiments that confirm all this. One showed that strawberry mousse tastes more intense and sweet in a white plate as opposed to a black one. Soda and lemon-based beverages are more refreshing and lemony in a blue can, while those in pink vessels are perceived as sweeter (which explains Tab). Coffee is affected too; a brown packaging makes its taste stronger and more aromatic, while red makes it less strong and yellow or blue make it smoother. [El Mundo—In Spanish]