By Jack Franks
Have you ever found yourself standing at the end of the queue in Starbucks, patiently awaiting the arrival of your finely crafted coffee in the designated waiting zone, and thought, “Why?”.
No, we are not getting too deep here, so I don’t think the existence of the human race is the topic of conversation. Instead, why are we drawn to certain types of coffee products on the menu?
What does it say about us, and is there a link between what you decide to spend $4 plus and your internal physic and personality?
Our survey says…
In scientific terms, no.
But, the story does not abruptly end there. A study conducted by clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvaula, in which she tested 1,000 people on various personality traits – including warmth, perfectionism and extroversion – and asked them what coffee they’d usually order, offers some tenable evidence.
Participants in the study responded to common scenarios in everyday life, such as how they would feel planning dinner parties, what their typical weekend looked like and how they would respond to having to wait in a big queue.
This information was blended with their individual and personal coffee habits and preferences. The findings were fully detailed in Durvaula’s 2013 book, You Are WHY You Eat: Change YOUR Food Attitude, Change Your Life.
Similarities were found, but Durvaula also stressed that “our coffee orders no more define us than by our astrological signs.” Not precisely concrete evidence, but further studies have contributed and attempted to connect the dots further.
New research reported by People in 2021 revealed and highlighted some new trends and connections between behavior and whether they preferred hot or cold coffee. Cold-brew orders soared by 27%, and iced coffee requests rose by 11% in 2022, signaling a new wave of Gen Z customers within the coffee landscape.
Unsurprisingly then, the study found that those who prefer a colder hit to their coffee are more likely to be part of the Gen Z crowd (40%), and also prefer sunny weather (40%). This is in stark contrast to the 94% of people over the age of 56 who prefer a warm cup of caw-fee.
Other interesting findings from the survey, which was commissioned by Califa Farms and conducted by OnePoll, was that hot coffee drinkers were more likely to be extroverts (40%) and love to blast Taylor Swift (24%). I knew the boomers were in trouble when they walked in.
Analyzing the information and statistics, combined with the findings from Durvaula, can we definitively say there is genuine psychology behind a coffee order?
While the results and surveys piqued interest and offered value to coffee drinkers, the correlation must be taken with a pinch of salt. Or a spoonful of sugar, in this instance.
As much as we would love to declare concrete evidence that your latte order truly tells you all you need to know about your personality, character and profile, it doesn’t.
This is because personality is anything but linear and isn’t immutable and unchanging. People aren’t born with certain patterns and traits, with individual development spanning years and decades. Personality can be influenced by biology, genes, life experiences and raising styles.
Some studies also jump to radical and, at times, over-the-top conclusions. An example of this can be found in a 2015 study conducted in Austria. It found that people who prefer bitter tastes were more likely to exhibit behaviors consistent with psychopathy.
Don’t worry if you’ve just spat out your Americano. Taken from a small study sample and with psychologists skeptical of the correlation, it’s not exactly hitting all the right notes.
What coffee you get may be decided for you because of your current financial situation. Perhaps it’s an emotionally driven decision, given your current circumstances. You may just like to change your order and be spontaneous occasionally.
In fact, there is no universally accepted way to measure personality accurately. So trying to judge your coffee preferences is way off the mark.
While there may be no overriding evidence to pour into our mugs here, it would be rude not to look at what the research studies suggested regarding what coffee types represent based on Durvasula’s research and findings.
To get a wider overview and opinion on each drink, the views of human behavioral expert Darren Stanton, who boasts over 25 years of experience analyzing deception detection and emotional signs, are also in the mix.
Old-school, traditional and simple. You are set in your ways and are highly driven to achieve big things. You see things as they are. Black and white. Well, mostly black on this occasion.
You could also be someone with love for health and fitness, wanting to lower your calorie intake and experience the various health benefits that black coffee offers.
According to Stanton, you could be a person who looks after yourself, making you self-sufficient and empowered, but also bordering on having a selfish mentality. Ouch.
For average. Middle of the road. Beige? If Latte is your choice, then Stanton thinks you might consider yourself a bit of a coffee connoisseur, but in reality, you’re happy to go with the flow and stick to hot milk and a bit of coffee.
Durvasula found that latte drinkers were likely to be open, helpful and generous, but they were likely to be people pleasers who neglected their own needs.
The evolution from the latte type, those who opt for a Cappuccino are, according to Stanton, slightly more adventurous and could be considered more fun.
You are more likely to push yourself into unknown territory, try learning a new skill or visiting a new place. In a nutshell, you’re open-minded. And up for a laugh. Well done you.
As previously mentioned, if you’re sipping a cold coffee beverage through a straw, you will likely be part of the Gen-Z brigade.
Durvasula believes personality traits for iced coffee lovers include boldness and spontaneity, childlike and imaginativeness. Also reckless, though. And a maker of unhealthy decisions. Gen Z then!
Stanton agrees, believing people who go against the grain and play by their own rules are the culprits. As he puts it, you would happily sit out in the rain while everyone else is clambering to find shelter.
You’re strong, quite adventurous and know what you want. Stanton also thinks you’re the type who would walk, not a bar and order a shot of whiskey or rum. Go you.
Stanton believes Espresso drinkers to be no-nonsense, straight-talking and shoot-from-the-hip types of people.
Small, strong, efficient and precise are the keywords associated with cortado drinkers, along with a tendency to enjoy sticking to rules and structure and dislike the concept of change.
You are intelligent. Well, you think you are intelligent (these are not the views of Muscle and Health). Stanton also believes a cortado drinker is a true extrovert.
Put your pinky in the air. The flat white is a coffee designed for those who think they are a bit more sophisticated than the rest of us, given that the taste is much stronger and an acquired taste.
I’m sorry flat white drinkers, but Stanton thinks you’re a loner, quite single-minded, fairly outspoken and almost arrogant in some cases…
You dabble in social media regularly, searching for the perfect shot of your coffee for your dedicated Instagram followers.
Stanton thinks you’re likely to be extroverted, outgoing, flamboyant, and potentially quite loud if this is your drink of preference.
You’re the life and soul of the party and like to stand out from the crowd. Sound familiar?
Espress Yourself: The past, present and future of caffeine