A big side effect of drinking coffee from a to-go cup, according to experts

you fell in love at your home coffee routine during the pandemic, but may be left with a distinct taste in your mouth as you begin to relish your daily cup of joe. thank you, a Psychology Expert Revealed There’s a Scientific Reason Why Coffee Tastes in Your Go-to Mug Is Simple taste different than it does in the comfort of your own space.

For regular coffee drinkers, pouring a cup of Joe every morning is somewhat of a religious practice. No matter how you feel about your go-to coffee tumbler, getting a coffee on the road might just be a little frustrating. It turns out that if you can’t yet go past how coffee on the go doesn’t taste exactly the same as it does when you enjoy it from a wide-mouth mug, you’re not alone. (related: 7 healthiest foods to eat right now)

Coffee doesn’t taste as good on the fly, a group of Redditors noticed.


A Reddit subgroup has been debating this to-go coffee puzzle lately. Said u/e2arccos0c:

“I brew a cup of coffee with my AeroPress whenever I take it with me in a reusable plastic travel mug or metal (Thermo). mug, it tastes so bad when I drink it in a regular mug at home (same recipe, same beans, same grind size etc.). Even if I drink it right away, it tastes worse. Why is it like this? Has anyone had a similar experience and found a type of travel mug that doesn’t happen?”

related: Drinking coffee has a big impact on your longevity, says new study

Could it be something other than taste?

woman wearing glasses and drinking coffee

woman wearing glasses and drinking coffee

Responses accelerated, with u/Greedy_Asparagus_582 receiving 70 upvotes (and counting) for this simple response:

“I think a big part of it is that you can’t the smell of coffee. Aroma is a big part of the taste experience, and you don’t get that in most travel mugs.”

Explanation, according to an Enlightenment Science expert.


Indeed, u/euricaster shared insights from Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist who heads the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford and a consultant on consumer experience specializing in food studies. As well as the author of several books on the science of eating, including gastrophysicshandjob Spence is quoted as saying:

“Given how important smell is to our enjoyment of food and drink… perhaps the best (or must it be the worst?) example of poor olfactory design are the plastic lids that are regularly used to warm millions of paper cups. Coffee is placed on. While these lids undoubtedly allow you to drink without worrying about spillage, what they alone fail to do is allow the drinker to smell the contents of the cup and appreciate its orthonasal aroma. Allows . . . Once again, this is the orthonasal olfactory hit. It’s missing from most experience. We can either smell the ingredients or we can drink them, but there’s no way we can do both at the same time. We can do it, no matter how hard we try.”

related: These Are the Worst Kinds of Coffee for Your Heart Health, Says Science

There are other forces at play as well.


Members of the subreddit also discussed another interesting theory. “Plastics and metals will react somewhat tastefully/chemically with the coffee,” u/CMDA said. He continued:

“I know, I know, people say that stainless steel has no effect on taste and whatever, but that’s not true in my experience. Now, I have a stainless steel thermos mug that I use Used to do which was mostly fine (as in, didn’t affect the taste much, but sometimes after washing it), but eventually gave up using it and just use plain ol’ glass/ceramic cups without the adulteration (Plus I can taste the flavor notes better when the coffee is cold than hot I prefer it to the loss of hot coffee).

“Plus, the mug started to get some color that wouldn’t wash off with all the coffee I drank from it, which clearly tells me it’s not as completely neutral as some say.”

There’s some science behind why your favorite sip varies in taste from time to time. Stay on top of the latest coffee and food news by sign up for Eat This, Not That! News bulletin.

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