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Sound and Music in a Cafe: How Does It Affect Our Taste Senses?

We describe sounds and tastes with similar words. This is light coffee. This is light music. This coffee has a dense, heavy body. This is experimental fermentation coffee. How would it sound? In this article, we talk about the connection between sounds and tastes and different music in cafes.

What is cross-pattern perception?

Everything we see, hear and feel affects how we smell and taste food and drink. This phenomenon has been scientifically proven and is called multisensory or cross-model perception. Cross-modality occurs when we associate a stimulus from one sensory system with a stimulus from another sensory system. For example, it is a sound with a certain color or a certain taste.

How are gastrophysics and music linked in an institution?

One of the well-known researchers of cross-modal taste perception is Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford. It examines how our taste "interacts" with the external environment. The external environment is, for example, the design of the dishes, the shape of the table, the material of the upholstery of the chair, lighting, music. Spence is the author of the book "Gastrophysics". The New Nutrition Science. So gastrophysics studies how our senses and our environment change our sense of taste.

According to Spence, sound is the most unexpected and interesting element that affects the perception of taste. The scientist calls the sound "a forgotten sense of taste that we are not aware of, but that our brain remembers." According to Spence, the right melody can increase our perception of sweet, sour, or bitterness by 10%.

Spence writes that the background music in an establishment can influence our choices, even if we are not aware of it. In turn, we can transfer our emotional and ideological associations with music to our experience of pleasure and how we evaluate it. The more we love music, the more likely we are to say we love the taste we associate with it.

Noise, environment and creativity.

Complete silence sharpens attention and inhibits creative thinking. Conversely, the average noise level helps to come up with non-standard, original work ideas and encourages creativity in general. A study on this topic was published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The abstract of the article stated that if you need to think about a creative task, an average noise level of around 70 decibels improves performance compared to the lower 50 decibels. On the other hand, noise from 85 decibels reduces the amount of information processing and, accordingly, the ability to think creatively. The authors also conclude that complete silence is not bad, but for other tasks. It will help if you need to focus on the details.

Noise levels of around 70 decibels, or white noise, are typical for many cafes where customers have quiet conversations and background music is played at medium volume. Noise from 85 decibels is a working mixer or very loud music that you have to shout.

How does the sound environment affect the taste of coffee?

Multisensory perception of coffee taste is a new and interesting area for research and experimentation. The Coffee Sensorium project, led by Brazilian scientist Fabiana Carvalho, is dedicated to him. Thus, Fabiana investigated how the shape, color, and material of cups affect the perception of coffee's taste. And in her latest work, Fabiana explores the relationship between taste and sounds, among other things.

We taste coffee in different ways and make different choices at different sound states. Our taste experience is affected by changing pitch sounds and background noise from an espresso machine.

In seminars on multi-sensory taste perception, Fabiana conducted an experiment that allowed her to see how taste sensations change in different sounds. The scientist asked the participants to taste the coffee and listen to two different pitches at the same time. When the participants heard the undertone, they perceived the coffee as more bitter and intense. When a louder tone was played through the headphones, the coffee felt sweeter and lighter.

There is also something curious about espresso machines. High levels of background noise can affect our ability to taste sweet and salty foods. This problem can be exacerbated by the design of a modern coffee shop: hard furniture and reflective surfaces that do not absorb sound well. In her article, Fabiana talks about a work she has done with coffee machines. Participants turned up the volume of a working machine and were asked to rate the coffee. When the sound was sharp and very loud, participants described the coffee as less pleasant. When the high frequencies were turned off, the taste of the drink increased. Therefore, it is not surprising that some manufacturers today are trying to put the "correct" sounds in their espresso machines.

Fabiana also suggests that different coffees can be associated with different styles of music. And accordingly, our perception of the taste of coffee can also change according to different music genres. Scientist, style of music He cites a scientific paper examining its effect on ap selection.

Fabiana Carvalho has been collaborating with the Russian education project Roasters' Village for the past few years. This year, together with Valentina Moksunova, Fabiana conducted another experiment in the field of multisensory taste perception - about the relationship between coffee taste, shape, color and music. Participants were required to taste several coffee samples, draw flavors, and choose one of the suggested tunes for each. We are waiting for the results, still processing.

Champions manipulate pleasure.

The relationship between sound and taste was demonstrated by Swedish barista Matt Winton at the 2018 World Barista Championships. His experiment is based on the results of research by Charles Spence and Fabiana Carvalho. Vinton's signature drink was served in different glasses and accompanied by different music.

Seven years before Winton, Rasmus Heldebostad experimented with sound and taste. At the 2011 Norwegian Barista Championship, Rasmus mixed a specialty drink based on coffee and apple juice. Although the sound-taste combination was not very successful, the idea itself was very accurate and innovative for coffee.

What playlist is available at your favorite cafe?

A good playlist should support the brand concept, the atmosphere in the organization and appeal to the audience. These are basic tips for choosing music for cafes and cafes from one of the major music streaming services. Also, the service recommends setting a comfortable volume, not forgetting about copyrights and listening to the opinions of guests.


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