Bitter Beverage Brief

by

Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

[T]ea or coffee? Your response may be determined before you’re even born. A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Understanding the Role of Bitter Taste Perception in Coffee, Tea, and Alcohol Consumption Through Mendelian Randomization,  explains how genetics affect sensitivity to bitterness in certain compounds, and results in a preference for either coffee or tea. Researchers in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom examined DNA from more than 430,000 individuals in the UK Biobank, a national resource of genetic data for medical research. The databank includes information on each person’s health, and self-reported behaviors, including coffee and tea consumption.

Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that people with a genetic sensitivity to bitterness in caffeine were more likely to have an increased coffee intake. Researches also discovered that sensitivity to bitterness in other chemical compounds (propylthiouracil and quinine) resulted in decreased coffee intake. For tea drinkers, the opposite is true. A decreased sensitivity to caffeine and increased sensitivity to propylthiouracil and quinine increases the likelihood that a person will have a higher tea intake.

The research is in almost direct opposition to researchers’ previous theories about bitter sensitivity and preference for beverages. It’s long been assumed that people with a higher sensitivity would avoid bitterness, because bitterness is an indicator of poison or rot. The new research indicates that drinkers may prefer a beverage because of its bitter taste.

Share This Article

Fresh Cup Staff

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

Other Articles You May Like

Let’s Talk About Coffee Certifications

B-corp, organic, fair trade: what do all the certifications gracing the shelves of coffee shops and grocery stores mean? We take a closer look.
by Anne Mercer | February 3, 2023

Sweet Companions: Creating The Perfect Coffee and Cheese Pairing

Its high fat content and overall creaminess makes cheese ideal for balancing coffee’s acidity.
by Madeleine Coghlan | January 24, 2023

Coffee Waste or Product Potential?

Thanks to innovative minds across the globe, coffee cherry excess is being repurposed in food products, merchandise production, and even as biofuel.
by Anna Brones | January 19, 2023

Grinding for a Purpose: Everything You Need To Know To Pick The Right Grinder

While espresso machines get most of the attention, grinders are the real workhorses of a café.
by Michael Butterworth | January 17, 2023