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April 21, 2020

Do you crave coffee and chocolate? Science can explain why

A new study suggests that a cup of joe affects the sense of taste

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Coffee changes taste Free-Photos/Pixabay

Science is beginning to have a better understanding of how our taste buds work, including why sweet treats tastes so good with a cup of coffee.

A cup of coffee and a sweet chocolate dessert sounds about perfect right now, right?

Have you ever wondered why you crave this delicious combo? Researchers at Denmark's Arahus University say it is because coffee changes our senses of taste, increasing our sensitivity to sweet and decreasing our sensitivity to bitter.

The researchers put 156 participants through series of tests, examining their senses of smell and taste before and after drinking coffee and found that the participants senses of taste were affected.

"When people were tested after drinking coffee, they became more sensitive to sweetness, and less sensitive to bitterness," said Alexander Wieck Fjældstad, an associate professor at Arahus University.

The researchers ruled out that caffeine was the cause by conducting the same tests with decaffeinated coffee.

"It's probably some of the bitter substances in the coffee that create this effect," Fjældstad said, adding that this may explain why dark chocolate might not taste as bitter when enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

He hopes that their research can contribute to what we know about our senses of smell and taste and how they influence what we eat and drink.

"More research in this area could have significance for how we regulate the way in which we use sugar and sweeteners as food additives, improved knowledge can potentially be utilized to reduce sugar and calories in our food, which would be beneficial for a number of groups, including those who are overweight and diabetes patients," he said.

Our senses of smell and taste can also provide warnings about possible infections. The loss of one's sense of smell and taste is known to be a symptom of certain illnesses, including COVID-19.

The study is published in the journal Foods.

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