Are you a self-confessed coffee addict or do you prefer a nice traditional English cuppa first thing in the morning? Well, it turns out your preference could have a lot to do with your genetic make up.
A new study published in Scientific Reports and conducted by scientists at Northwestern Medicine and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, has found a direct link between people’s DNA and the different ways in which they perceive the bitter tastes of coffee, tea and alcohol.
In order to get answers, the researchers analysed two large sets of data: one from a large Australian twin study – which analysed the perception of taste of 1,757 twins and their siblings, all of whom were of European descent – and another taken from the UK Biobank, which gave the scientists the relevant information regarding the number of different drinks that people across the country consume on a daily basis.
The first set of data demonstrated that genetics play an important part in determining how well people are able to perceive different tastes, including the bitterness of caffeine. While we may expect someone who is particularly sensitive to avoid bitter drinks such as coffee, the study actually shows that those individuals are more likely to have a penchant for the famous beverage.
With this in mind, the scientists came to the conclusion that those who are genetically predisposed to having a stronger perception of the bitter taste of caffeine are more likely to be or become regular coffee drinkers.
Speaking to the Medical Xpress, Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine, said: ‘You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee.
‘The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (ie stimulation) elicited by caffeine,’ she continued. ‘The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol.’