You Already Know That Coffee Affects Your Brain, But Your Taste Buds?
Everyone who drinks coffee knows why they drink it – either they love the taste, they love the way it helps keep them alert and gets them through the day, or both, right? But why does coffee have the properties it does, and what makes it taste so good? Read on to learn more about this magical beverage.
How Coffee Affects Your Brain
We all know that coffee helps wake you up, or keep you awake and alert, because of caffeine. But what does caffeine actually do? It has to do with a neurotransmitter in your brain called adenosine.
When adenosine binds to receptors in your brain, it slows everything down and creates the right conditions in your body for sleep. Caffeine is an adenosine receptor antagonist. What this means is that it blocks your adenosine receptors so that the adenosine can’t get through and alert your brain to slow down and get sleepy. The result is greater wakefulness and alertness.
An added benefit is that your brain may make up for its lack of adenosine by introducing more glutamate and dopamine into your system, chemicals that make your brain happy. So, there’s a chemical reason why coffee can put you in a better mood.
How Coffee Affects Your Taste Buds
You love the taste of coffee, but you probably realize that in many instances, it is an acquired taste. To the uninitiated, coffee may taste bitter and unpalatable, while veterans can find it delicious even without added milk or sugar. But do you realize that drinking coffee can affect your taste buds?
It’s true. The blocking of adenosine in your brain also makes it harder for you to taste sweetness. It’s not a permanent effect, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re considering which donut to enjoy with your java.
Do You Really Need the Caffeine?
You may appreciate the caffeine in your coffee, but do you really need it? One study showed that people who were drinking decaffeinated coffee but believed it had caffeine enjoyed the same feelings of wakefulness and alertness from the aroma and taste as those who drink caffeinated coffee. That’s right, the aroma. Even just the smell of coffee can change your brain and start waking you up.
Of course, if you know you’re drinking decaf, or smelling decaf, it may not have the same effect, but if all you have left in the cupboard is the decaffeinated stuff, you probably can get away with feeding it to your friends or family and passing it off as their caffeine-rich favorite. Further, if you are in an environment where you need alert people, having the smell of fresh coffee floating through the halls probably couldn’t hurt.
Learning More About Coffee Chemistry
Most of the time, when you’re drinking coffee, you’re probably just thinking that you like coffee, or that you need it as a pick me up. However, knowing a little bit about the chemistry of coffee can demystify this amazing beverage and help you make the best choices for yourself when it comes to your coffee drinking habits.