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Love Coffee? New Study Reveals You May Prefer The Feeling Over Flavor

Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
cup of coffee

When we think of why we like a particular drink or food, your mind probably goes to the taste of the thing. We either like the taste, or we don't, right? Not so fast. According to a new study published in Human Molecular Genetics, our preference for bitter drinks—think dark roast coffee, beer, or sweet beverages—has more to do with how these drinks make us feel.

To test this, the researchers analyzed data on people who drank bitter beverages like coffee, tea, and grapefruit juice. They did a genome-wide test, meaning a comprehensive analysis of the person's entire genome, and found that taste preference was not based on variations in taste genes. Instead, preferences were based on genes related to the psychoactive effects of the drinks.

"The genetics underlying our preferences are related to the psychoactive components of these drinks," said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. "People like the way coffee and alcohol make them feel. That's why they drink it. It's not the taste."

If our drink preferences are more about the way they make us feel, it's worth thinking about why we reach for that cup of joe. When it comes to coffee, people are typically looking for that caffeine-induced energy buzz, and with alcohol, researchers cited its calming effects.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying your go-to drink, but if you're trying to cut back on caffeine, for example, consider other options that may make you feel just as good. Get creative, and next time you're about to have a sip, think about whether you really like the taste or it's just the feeling.

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