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Like the bitter taste in coffee, know why?


While sipping a cup of coffee, the bitter taste of coffee is inevitable to escape, which is synonymous to the beverage. And for some, it is this bitter taste that hooks them to the cuppa, longing for more.

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Any idea, why some people like the taste of coffee so much? According to Marilyn Cornelis, lead researcher of the study, said, “You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee. The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (i.e. stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

It means that, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness, and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine, learn to associate good things with it. This study was first published in the journal of Scientific Reports.

The study also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP, a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, avoided coffee. As per alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

Cornelis also said, “The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol.”

As part of the study, scientists have applied Mendelian randomisation, a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology. More than 400,000 men and women in the United Kingdom were subjected to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in .

Genetic variants linked to caffeine, quinine and PROP perception were earlier identified through genome-wide analysis of solution taste-ratings collected from Australian twins.

According to the study, these genetic variants were then tested for associations with self-reported consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol.

“Taste has been studied for a long time, but we don’t know the full mechanics of it. Taste is one of the senses. We want to understand it from a biological standpoint,” explained Cornelis.

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