Why People Enjoy Coffee

Nicole Gilbert

A major sign of the winter season approaching is when Starbucks changes their traditional cup to a holiday-themed one and introduces special winter flavors. Whether that be the red reusable cup or ones that mimic the appearance of presents, people flock to this corporation to order the Peppermint Mocha or Eggnog Latte. Yet picture this: those dreadfully long lines much shorter, because the coffeehouse no longer serves coffee; it now only serves some tea and snacks. Based on evolutionary logic, major corporations like Starbucks should not exist. The bitterness in drinks was originally supposed to serve as a warning sign for your body that alerts harmful substances. Humans should despise the taste of coffee, yet the opposite occurs.


Why do humans like the taste of coffee?

The bitterness of caffeine in coffee can be a distinct taste. A new study from Northwestern Medicine along with QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute says that the more sensitive you are to the bitter taste the more you will want to drink coffee. Rather than those people despising the drink, as expected, the opposite occurs. These people can detect the caffeine in the drink, and then attribute good qualities to coffee. Hence, people continually drink coffee leading to the success of selling coffee globally.


How the bitter taste in coffee compares to other bitter tastes

In addition to the study regarding coffee, the scientists studied people who were sensitive to bitterness in quinine and PROP, “a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables” (Northwestern University). Their research revealed that these people often avoided drinking coffee. This information leads Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor at Northwestern University, to believe that how much a person likes a specific bitter taste contributes to their want to drink coffee.



Ultimately, the study aimed to help scientists understand the sense of taste. Scientists do not have a full understanding of taste, but this research provides valuable insight biologically. As a result of testing people’s liking of the bitter taste to how much of that product they drink, scientists understand that the sensitivity sprouts from a genetic variant.


Alyssa Schwertfeger ‘20


Northwestern University. (2018, November 15). Why we shouldn’t like coffee, but we do: Weirdly, people with a higher sensitivity to bitter caffeine taste drink more coffee. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181115104603.htm

Leave your thought