Exploring Bitterness in Craft Beer, and how it relates to Coffee, Chocolate and other Foods

Some interesting preliminary research being done in the world of beer tasting and emotional responses. It seems bitter evokes unpleasant while sweet evokes pleasant. That sounds confusing. Isn’t chocolate bitter, and a girl's best friend? And coffee is supposed to be bitter and strong or it's not artisan good? At least that is what all the commercials say. Maybe those statements are just the Cliff Clavin version of marketing and advertising changing our perception with misleading and meaningless trivia?

If it wasn't for the confusion that marketing and advertising promotes, most coffee drinkers would not be so easily persuaded by the bitter cover words of strong bold and dark. Alas, they order a double double to fix the bitter coffee before drinking it which in some way actually confirms people want their coffee to be sweet.

It's a long shot, but it's possible that the Buckley's phenomena taught people to gravitate towards bitter tastes for the strong effect too, that in some way healing would occur through consumption. That you would feel better because of this horrible bitter drink. Just drink it. Then again, we often justify our reasons to do many things. After all coffee and alcohol are grown up drinks. Or is that another way we justify the over-bitter medicinal quality? Maybe they don't have to be bitter to be something an adult drinks.

We can safely assume this research is not being done to debunk the hoppy-bitter trajectory of craft beer because the authors are from storied Universities. It would be great if similar research would be done on coffee. Unfortunately we don’t have an organization to push this particular idea forward because it's interlinked with large corporations like Tim Hortons and Starbucks. Those corporations have a vested interest in bitterness and would push back against such research.

So, as we wait for more science labs and their researchers to replicate and confirm this experiment, we can safely extrapolate that this shows humans are not naturally inclined to drink bitter ashy woody burnt acrid tar-like coffee. We are more likely to prefer sweeter tasting coffees. That's a high-five for 3rd wave cafes!

Learn more and Download the full PDF of “Beer and Consumer Response Using Biometrics: Associations Assessment of Beer Compounds and Elicited Emotions

Craft Beer Research Paper
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