PARIS – In a new study investigating how genetic factors determine taste, scientists think they know why some people prefer coffee and others prefer tea.
An article published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports showed that people who are genetically predisposed to a taste for more bitter tastes usually choose coffee because of the higher content of grated caffeine.
But, what's important for people who drink tea around the world, it does not fix them.
With the evolution of humans, we have developed the ability to detect bitterness as a natural alert system to protect the body from harmful substances.
In evolutionary terms, we should spit Americano straight into the sink.
However, study participants who were more sensitive to the taste of caffeine more often preferred coffee and tea and more often drank it.
"You can expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine will drink less coffee," said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
"The reverse results of our research suggest that coffee consumers acquire the taste or ability to detect caffeine thanks to the scientist's positive caffeine-boosted effect."
Therefore, people genetically programmed to like the bitterness of coffee, learn to associate "good things" with her – said Cornelis.
In a study of over 400,000 men and women in the UK, researchers also found that people who are sensitive to the bitter flavors of quinine and the flavor associated with plant compounds are more likely to avoid coffee for its sweeter counterpart, tea.
Liang-Dar Hwang of the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, who co-created the study, told AFP that the fact that some people prefer coffee shows that everyday experiences can override genetic tendencies when it comes to taste.
"The perception of bitter taste is shaped not only by genetics, but also by environmental factors," he said.
"Although people naturally do not like bitterness, we can learn to like or enjoy the bitter taste after exposure to environmental factors."
Although coffee lovers basically oppose evolution, there is another possible benefit to like your latte.
Hwang said that coffee drinkers are genetically less sensitive to bitterness than tea drinkers, which makes it "less likely to hate other bitter-tasting products," such as green vegetables.