Gina Florio
January 11, 2017 3:35 pm

If you run through all the things that affect how good your coffee tastes in the morning, the list probably includes factors like quality of coffee beans, what type of milk is used, how cute the barista is, etc. All the little elements matter, and the most devoted coffee lovers know how important it is to get everything just right. But there’s one thing that affects the flavor of your coffee that you never would have guessed in a million years: the size of your coffee cup.

In March, a study will be published in Food Quality and Preference that proves how the size and thickness of your mug makes a difference in the taste of your coffee. 300 volunteers from China, Colombia, and the U.K. participated in the survey. They were asked to judge a set of mugs in order of aroma, bitterness, intensity, temperature, caffeine-level, sweetness, etc. They were also asked to share how much they’d be willing to pay for the coffee depending on the size and shape of the mug.

Apparently, cafe owners and baristas have a lot to consider after the results of this study, because people expect certain tastes, smells, and quality from their coffee depending on what their coffee cup looks like. People from all the above countries believed that a cup with a wider diameter was going to have a sweeter taste to it (hence the big ol’ cappuccino mugs), and they expected shorter, narrow cups to have a stronger, more intense flavor to it.

It may not sound like that big of a deal, but there’s a strong connection between customers’ expectations and their purchasing patterns. In other words, if we pick up a wide, heavy mug and taste nothing but bitter espresso, we might be weirded out enough to steer clear from that cafe ever again. Take note, baristas!