None of us were born liking coffee or craving it. In fact, there’s a high chance you thought coffee was disgusting when you were younger!
But now you love a dark, bitter coffee. Why is that?
It’s because coffee is an acquired taste and, if you enjoy coffee today, it is a taste that you’ve learned to love over time.
What Is an Acquired Taste?
An acquired taste is something that most people do not enjoy when they first try it but will start to like it the more they get to know it.
Coffee is an acquired taste because most people don’t like its bitter taste when they first try it. However, as one of the most popular drinks in the world, it’s clearly possible to learn to love coffee.
If you acquire a taste then you have managed to ignore the negative qualities – whether that’s the taste, texture, or smell – and you have slowly started to appreciate and enjoy it.
Is Coffee an Acquired Taste?
You might love coffee now, but you probably weren’t exactly blown away the first time you tried it. You may have even been disgusted by the bitter taste.
At first, most people are attracted to the idea or ritual of drinking coffee, rather than the taste. They like the idea of having coffee with their breakfast, or with colleagues, and they want to benefit from the caffeine boost.
Drinking coffee doesn’t come easy and most people start by adding a fair amount of milk and sugar to make it taste better.
But as time goes on, coffee drinkers learn to enjoy coffee. They often stop adding sweeteners or move away from milkier types of coffees to start drinking their coffee black.
So what happened?
As you aged and kept drinking coffee, you got used to the taste and didn’t need to add so many flavors to sweeten it up.
Far from being disgusted, you have likely come to enjoy the bitter taste of coffee.
Coffee is strong and tastes bitter, it is no surprise that most of us don’t enjoy the taste at first, but after drinking it a few times, people tend to develop more of a taste for it.
Why Do We Have Acquired Tastes?
Acquired tastes are mostly a psychological phenomenon. We are not predisposed to enjoy certain bitter, spicy, and intense flavors, but we learn to like them.
It is believed that one’s tastes evolve during adolescence and peer pressure can be an important factor – we start to like something because people we know like it.
The process of acquiring a taste is gradual and is influenced by many things, one being exposure. If you are exposed to something regularly, you will start to enjoy it and get used to it as it becomes familiar.
Another reason we have acquired tastes may be due to conditioning and what we associate with the particular flavor. If you drink coffee on occasions when you are happy, you will start to associate coffee with happiness. Eventually, the coffee itself may make you feel happy.
What are Some Other Acquired Tastes?
Coffee is not the only acquired taste; another common one is alcohol.
People often dislike alcohol at first, but they continue to drink it due to peer pressure or because they like the buzz or high that it gives them.
Eventually, they actually start to like alcohol. It’s the exact same process as drinking coffee for caffeine.
Both alcohol and coffee are therefore acquired tastes.
Examples of other acquired tastes
- Raw oysters – you either love or hate their taste and slimy texture.
- Kimchi – as it has a pickled taste and does not smell very good.
- Olives – since they taste salty or bitter.
- Anchovies – as they have a robust salty flavor.
- Lutsfik – a Norwegian dish of dried cod with a terrible smell!
- Blue cheese – which is covered in mold and is certainly not something we are born to enjoy!
- Vegemite – a rather salty yeast extract
Coffee is bitter and it’s rare for someone to enjoy their first sip, but eventually, people learn to love it.
The idea of coffee might even have been disgusting when you were younger, but now you probably can’t imagine life without your morning coffee.
The reason for this is that coffee is a classic example of an acquired taste.
We should dislike the bitterness of coffee, but because we want the caffeine, and because other people drink it too, we persevere until we learn to love it!