We all recognize coffee when we smell it. The scent of coffee is a profoundly distinguishable smell. But what images do you see when you smell coffee? Does it trigger a happy or negative memory? Oftentimes, coffee is associated with calm settings and enjoyable memories.
This is at the center of why simply even the aroma of coffee can actually have a positive impact on a person’s mood. The sale of coffee is one of the most booming and profitable businesses in the entire world. Many people drink it every single day, and some of those drink it multiple times per day.
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Coffee plays a vital role in our every day lives. It’s one of the first things people tend to every single morning. Without this drink, some people will experience heavy withdrawals and mood swings.
Coffee’s Effect on the Human Brain
Largely, people drink coffee for its caffeine content, relying on the energy boost to propel them through a day at work. However, the start of the effect from coffee comes from its scent.
Despite the scientific properties of aromatic effects on the brain, although those are certainly important, the benefits of the coffee’s scent begin in a person’s memories.
One might smell coffee and begin to feel awake yet calm. Perhaps a person grew up with their parents having coffee every morning, while reading the paper before work.
If they had a pleasant relationship with their parents and liked thinking about their family, the scent of coffee has the potential to trigger the same feel-good brain proteins that were present in those long-gone days.
No taste is needed. The smell alone can act as a stimulus to the brain. The pleasant memories that a person might associate with coffee do not even have to come front and center to a person’s thoughts, and still the effects will take place.
Of course, literally drinking and having a cup of coffee will have a higher impact on a person, but taste begins with smell. If a person is not capable of smelling something, they will not taste it; and this is why the benefits begin with coffee’s scent.
How Coffee Scents Triggers Memory
However, it should be noted that in hopefully rare circumstances, coffee, among other smells, might have a negative effect on a person’s psyche. Perhaps the person actually had a terrible and abusive relationship with their coffee-frequenting father, and the smell only triggers those negative feelings. In that case, the memory aspect is void, and this can apply to any scents that one pairs with specific emotions.
Beyond the feel-good benefits of pleasant aromas, coffee’s most sought-after stimulus is its caffeine, and even that in fact begins with smell. Because taste begins with smell, a person starts to anticipate and salivate over the item they are preparing to consume. With coffee, a person can begin to feel alert before they even have a sip, simply based out of anticipation.
The aroma literally triggers the feel-good proteins in the brain, but the caffeine content can actually be used as a placebo. If you tell a person that you have provided them with a normal, caffeinated cup of coffee, they could exhibit an energy boost, even if in reality you have given them decaf.
With the expectation of an energy boost, paired with the pleasant, calming memories associated with coffee, it is easy to see why even just the aroma of coffee can have a profound effect on a person’s mood.