Time to stop and smell the coffee

Most of us would have a much harder time getting going in the morning without our first cup of coffee, and often the smell alone is enough to motivate us. That’s partly because research scientists believe that around 80 per cent of the flavour we get from food and drink actually comes from our sense of smell rather than our taste buds, so the delicious scent of freshly-roasted coffee beans is often the thing that really gets your mouth watering.

Now, a new study carried out by researchers from Oxford University and the University of Sussex suggests that we could lose much of the nuance of our sense of smell when we’re busy, a condition dubbed ‘inattentional smell blindness’.

Researchers hid coffee beans in a room, then divided a study group of 40 people into two teams. One team was set a complicated task involving computer screens, while the other team were assigned simple duties. Both teams were then asked to describe the room, including their impressions of any smell. Those set the complicated task were almost half (43 per cent) less likely to notice the smell of coffee beans.

This means that if you’re grabbing your first cup of coffee of the day on the go, even putting it in a vacuum cup as you dash out of the house, there’s a chance it’s not going to taste as good as it could do. Try getting up 10 minutes earlier and taking a few minutes to appreciate your first cuppa of the day quietly before going to work. Not only will the coffee itself taste better, but you’ll be in a better frame of mind to face the day.

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