How does cup shape affect flavour?

I’m sure we have all been frustrated lately having to drink coffee out of paper takeaway cups when visiting cafes during Covid restrictions. The truth is, there is just something better about the taste of a coffee when you dine in. As baristas we are always trying to squeeze more value into our coffee experiences. We control almost every aspect of roasting and brewing to guarantee quality for our customers but usually, at the time of serving we all use relatively similar cups to serve our coffee, regardless of quality. This got me thinking; Perhaps there is more room for us to add value post brew here?

Originally this idea was developed for the 2019 Australian Brewers Cup Finals which I was competing in and had partnered up with an amazing local artist, Janah James who specialises in ceramics. I had been cycling through 8-10 different cups to use for serving but found that each one had such a significant influence of the taste of the coffee when I met Janah, so we began work on designing a cup with a particular flavour profile in mind. We set about designing a cup that would amplify certain flavour and tactile qualities of the coffee I had chosen to use for the final, which had complex acidity, floral aroma, fruit forward notes and a wine like mouthfeel. The idea was to have a positive influence on the taste of the cup post brew just by the shape and feel of the cup..

The wine and spirit industry use the vessel to express different characteristics of the beverage very well, but it was an area with limited options made directly for coffee but something I wanted to explore. The goal was to make a cup that would suit a specific style of coffee and improve the experience for the guest.

The final design we worked towards had 3 main features. Firstly, the wine glass shape helped enhance aromatics which was one of my favourite qualities about the coffee I was using, an Anerobic process Gesha Varietal, the La Palma y El Tucan from Colombia. Secondly, we worked on the angle of the lip which helps direct the delivery angle of the beverage and allows for a wider spread across the palate that gave a clearer perception of the complex acidity in the cup. Thirdly, the material used was also extremely influential in the expectation of quality. The heavier, thicker ceramic and the fit in the hand created a sense of comfort and quality. We worked with a drip glaze and red colouration inside that helped indicate the flavour expectation as a colour cue - red representing red fruits.  

Designed by Veneziano South Australia Barista Trainer Mike Wells in collaboration with local ceramic artist Janah James this range of cups focuses on how shape, colour and texture amplify flavour and aroma for filter coffee.