With the help of the Coffee Science Foundation and through sponsorship by Savor Brands, Dr. Fabiana Carvalho was able to conduct a research last year (2022) to study how a consumer's perception of the coffee inside can be affected by its packaging color. This research was conducted in two parts:
- The first experiment was conducted online and the 238 participants were asked to report on their expectations of several sensory, hedonic, symbolic, and utilitarian attributes of the coffee based on their packaging color.
- The second experience had a total of 226 consumers for the in-person tasting session of blind coffee samples. These participants were asked about how they liked the coffee, how much they were willing to pay for 12oz of that coffee, and to report based on the coffee's packaging, what they expected the coffee's sensory attributes to be.
Packaging and Flavor Perception
Based on the study, certain colors had significant association with certain flavor notes and profiles. For example, yellow was often associated with citrus while as green as herbal. For Dr. Fabiana's research, she utilized 2 hues of pink and brown with both high and low saturations. The participants expected the coffee in pink packaging to have higher sweetness and acidity, and lower bitterness, flavor, body, and roast than that of it's brown packaging counterpart. Dr. Fabiana observed that many of the expectations based off of the packaging also carried over and influenced the participants overall perception of the coffee sample. Dr. Fabiana was able to conclude based off of the results of both experiments that packaging color does in fact play a sustantial part of a consumer's purchasing decision and when consuming specialty coffee.
Not Just Fresh: Expanding Our Concept of Functional Packaging
We hope this study provides some additional insight on how to pick the best color that not only authentically represents your brand but also have the color be able to steer your customer's purchasing decision and expectations to the flavor perception of your coffee. To learn more, check out the latest issue (no. 20) of 25 an biannual publication of the Specialty Coffee Association A full academic paper on this research is currently in preparation for publication. Many thanks to the volunteers who participated in this study and special thanks to the following for their contributions to this research:
- Peter Giuliano, Chief Research Officer & Executive Director at the Coffee Science Foundation
- Mary Basco, Research & Knowledge Development Programs Manager at the Specialty Coffee Association
- Dr. Fabiana Carvalho, Founder of The Coffee Sensorium
- Renata Shimizu Forner, R&D/QA Food Service Engineer at Memo Eating
- Lem Butler, Owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters
- Andrew Phillips, Owner of Rose Park Coffee Roasters
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