Each of us is born with a predisposed way of perceiving the bitterness of particular substances. Scientists believe this might nudge us toward one beverage or the other.
“The study adds to our understanding of factors determining beverage preferences – taste, in particular – and why, holding all other factors constant, we still see marked between-person differences in beverage preference as well as the amount we consume,” Dr Marilyn Cornelis, author of the research from Northwestern University in Illinois, explains.
The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, involved two sets of data. The team found people with a greater genetic predisposition to perceiving the bitterness of caffeine drank a little more coffee, but an increased perception of the bitterness of quinine and prop were linked to a small reduction in coffee drinking.
The reverse patterns were seen when the team looked at the genetic variants and how much tea participants drank.
Interestingly, the team also found that greater perception of the bitterness of prop was linked to a lower chance of being a heavy drinker of alcohol.