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Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
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Kafeman
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Posted Thu Sep 27, 2012, 10:15am
Subject: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Just a question that is always nagging me and hoping for some opinions.

Why does coffee seem to taste so, so much better and satisfying (IMO) if I drink it before eating breakfast vs. eating and then sometime afterwards preparing my coffee?

Note: This is for filtered coffee, and just one decent sized cup (mine is a bit over 9 ounces on the strong upper side of the SCAA chart space that's 'good').  Many people have problems, especially if they overdo it, with espresso on an empty stomach to the point of getting nauseous or irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux and there are very good scientific explanations for that due to the oils and caffeine but they are a subject (please) of another thread.

For my question it just seems way more than psychological and I've mulled over it for a long time without really concluding anything for sure except I want my first coffee before eating breakfast due to a more enjoyable experience.  Could it be that the fasting body grabs the caffeine and uptakes it more rapidly in the absence of other food, giving a combination appetite supressing (the body craves and which is satisfied by eating regular food)  to a body which has the senses tuned and especially enhanced due to the hunger from fasting where the fantastic aroma capitalizes on these tuned 'hunting and scavanging' senses?

Or could it be that if food is eaten beforehand interferes with the sensual [or is that sensory ;-)] experience and corrupts the flavor/aroma combination of the coffee to something else whose purity to the senses just can't compete?

Or maybe you don't agree that the coffee experience is better after a fast?
Cheers!
Dave

I'd love to hear others' opinions on this puzzle (to me at least)!
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__________
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Posted Thu Sep 27, 2012, 11:01am
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

In the middle....

Drink my first coffee starting along with a boiled egg, then finishing it with toast and marmalade.  I am a person of routine at that time of the day.

It's probably just because I've got the breakfast making thing down to a mindless process that doesn't demand too much thought, and part of that is starting the coffee (just after the egg goes in, and about a minute before the toast ;o)  If I'm feeling a bit more awake, may break this routine and make syphon coffee, or even (gasp !) percolator just for fun.  Generally filter though, and never espresso at that time.

I know that coffee first thing on an empty stomach isn't something that suits my system, but as the OP requests, that would be for a different thread.
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VernS
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Posted Thu Sep 27, 2012, 7:32pm
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

That first coffee of the day, before breakfast, is almost always the best for me as well.
I think that both your theories regarding why this is true for you hold a lot merit. French press first think in the morning is definitely my favourite and I do that 98% of the time.

For me focusing on the aroma and flavour of a good coffee is essential for maximum enjoyment. I take my coffee in a double walled ceramic mug to my recliner where I can prop one elbow on a arm of the chair and the other on a cushion in order to easily hold the coffee near my nose during most of the 15 or 20 minutes it takes me finish it. I'm sure that the aromas of breakfast would definitely interfere with that enjoyment.
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jpender
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Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012, 10:46am
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

There is something called "sensory-specific satiety". If you eat a particular food -- or even just chew it for a while and then spit it out -- your enjoyment of that food via smell or taste diminishes. I'm not suggesting that your corn flakes or whatever you eat tastes like coffee. But maybe there is some cross-over effect. That is, perhaps there are smell/taste components in the foods you eat that are similar enough to those that are in coffee to affect your coffee-specific satiety.

Then again it could have something to do with your blood sugar.

If you're in the mood to experiment you could try a few things. Chew your breakfast and spit it out and then have coffee. Or try eating something very different for breakfast. Or have decaf, then breakfast, then regular coffee. Or drink two cups in succession without eating.


I'm also in the middle. I eat some fruit, have two small cups of coffee in succession, and then eat the main part of my breakfast. I find that the first cup is usually more enjoyable.
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CoffeeRoastersClub
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Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012, 7:30pm
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Personally I refrain from having coffee prior to eating breakfast.  It twists my stomach.  

Len

 
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Kafeman
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Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012, 7:55pm
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Hi all, and thanks for your thoughts - hope more people can give opinions since it seems like the only way to prove the "first cup" -after a fast in my case- is by get input from a lot of savvy coffee drinkers.  The 'middles' in our little sample are more common that I could have guessed.  KeepitSimple makes me wonder, since you have routines you are pleased by as do I - Is another psychological component of this is our brains just adapting to a relaxing routine and the very fact of having a set and predictable routine and the expectation of peace that comes with it, influencing the interpretation of the flavor/aroma experience? (Same as it has the ability to fill in the spaces on a minimalist sketch with a voluptuous woman that is all embellished somewhere between the eye and mind.  

Hard to draw parallels with that other more forum discussion taboo pleasure in life, though so I don't want to over complicate the simple fact that that first cup on an empty stomach is for me so much better than anything for the rest of the day, at any time and even tweaking the ambience doesn't get it there for me.  Seems to me something more is at work.

Vern, my coffee could never last me 15 minutes (I wish!), it is so delicious.  But what you mention about the ceramic mug we probably have much in common.  The hot vapors, in my case I sip it at about 175 F (79 C) with my nose all the way inside my mug as if I were a drug addict of sorts ;-).  I wonder if the vapors of all the good stuff cause any sensitization of the olfactory center... this sounds similar to jpender's line of thinking.

It is really great to get the thoughts of you all.  I checked out the Illy and Viani book and this subject isn't really covered though it comes close in several places.  Part of this may be because it is user specific rather than product specific, so R&D is more basic as opposed to making a better commercializable roast.  That is, the supplier or barista has no control over our personal psychology or 'sensory state', if in fact, our sensory state drifts for personal conditions throughout the day/night.

As for jpender's tests, I agree, and I thought of substituting decaf in the morning just to try and isolate whether the caffeine seems to be the morning trigger.  Trigger for in the sense of influencing the taste so positively, not in the sense of a stimulant since a stimulant is unlikely to affect our taste, unless ... we need to consider conditioned reflexes ... which may just be a harsh way to describe the routine already mentioned.  But for the rest of the tests, like spitting out the coffee, honestly I'd love to do some control tests like that but the craving is so strong and the pleasure so much from that cup - undoubtedly the high point of my day - that I just don't want to lose even one morning experience!

Hope more people can reply to this as more opinions from those who have strong opinions and awareness are valuable to see how similar or different we are.  On Monday I'll see if I can get a hold of a coffee "sense professional" and whatever I learn I'll be happy to share here.

Cheers!
-Dave
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jbviau
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Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012, 7:55pm
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Dave (OP), do you brush your teeth in the morning before making and enjoying that first cup?

I usually don't have my first coffee until well after breakfast, at around 10 a.m. Tastes great to me! Contra what you've experienced, I find my taste buds need time to wake up.
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Kafeman
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Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012, 8:03pm
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Thanks Len and jbviau, I saw your new posts after I just posted - thanks for the wide range of input.  As for brushing, I brush after breakfast, but that would be after coffee/breakfast or breakfast/coffee.  I don't have anything like reflux thankfully, nor am I usually in breathing distance on anyone before that first cup, so I get more bang out of brushing if I clean up after putting food in my mouth (though I do immediately before going to bed ... hmmm, that's something to think about too).  I'm sure brushing soon before the coffee would unfavorably influence my coffee though.

Thanks for these replies and I hope others find it as interesting a subject!
-Dave
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cerridwyn
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cerridwyn
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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 7:02am
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

So much of what we call taste is related to smell. I would wonder if it is that it is the first distinct aroma you had in the morning and you also really want and enjoy it?

I usually eat breakfast out so coffee is after, when I get to work and can make it my way. I could do it at home, but I'm lazy in the morning and don't want to have to clean up after myself.

Weekends may be the opposite and I don't find any difference really in what I do.

We all here enjoy coffee, but each of us will have a unique experience. And our rituals change over time. I can still remember 34 years ago when I became pregnant and even the smell of my beloved coffee (yes, I was already addicted) made my stomach churn. I couldn't go near it. And after my daughter was born, having that first cup (of the sludge we called coffee back then) was, at the time, the best thing I had ever had.

Now, I think that cup I sometimes have before bed (yep, I'm one of the lucky ones, can have a cup of leaded coffee and go right to sleep) is the best of the day. Its smooth, relaxing and peaceful.

 
The world needs more outstanding coffee.

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barkingburro
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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 7:04am
Subject: Re: Coffee before breakfast (breaking the fast)
 

Kafeman, you left out a description of what you typically eat for breakfast and how you prefer your coffee (espresso?).

I find that my coffee, which runs on the chocolatey sweet side because I add cream and sugar, goes especially well with a buttery, savory breakfast.  The flavors seem to complement each other.  Conversely, if I drink coffee with a chocolatey dessert, I'm usually not as happy with the taste.  Again, I've found that butter cookies really bring out the best in my coffee, dessert-wise, but not nearly as well as a savory meal.

 
- Michael
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