I am pleased to share with you the wonderful and fascinating world of two of our most enjoyable senses: taste and smell. You can surely identify the multitude of experiences we undergo on a daily basis thanks to these two senses, which drastically affect the quality of our life.
Few people are familiar with the complexities of these two senses. As the person responsible for the analytical laboratory of the coffee company, I devote most of my time to researching the coffee components that activate the taste and smell senses. Althought most research is conducted analytically, such as with the use of scientific instruments, the research cannot be completed without a tight link to our natural senses, which are then expressed in scientific terms.
Why is it important to know our senses?
Coffee is one of the most complex food products in terms of its aroma. The aroma of coffee is made up of about 1000 different molecules identified today. Strauss’s unique labaratory was founded in order to deal with the complexities of coffee in achieving the richest aroma, maintaining maximum freshness, and insuring quality and consistency to our clients. A state of the art laboratory in the Israeli food industry, it is equipped with the best analytical instruments available on the market today. Expertise, knowledge, and passion are a standard ‘prerequisite’ for research and development in our analytical labaroties, which are dedicated to maintaining the quality and betterment of Strauss’s coffee products.
Sense of taste
The sense of taste is actually quite limited in range and experiences four major tastes; sweet, sour, salty and bitter. A fifth taste was recently announced: “Umami” (Japanese for ” delicious and pleasant taste”) which can be described as a combination of salty and sweet. It results from amino glutamate acid, which is found naturally in most foods, but some foods are particularly richer in it, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, fish , meat, and soy sauce. For example, Ketchup is naturally rich in Umami, and enhances the taste of meat. There are other sensations in the mouth, such as hot and cold, but they are associated with the sense of touch because they have no receptors. Spiciness is a sensation caused by the substance Capsaicin in the pepper family, which acts directly on the nerve cells on the tongue and the oral cavity. The ‘spiciness’ can be felt in other sensitive tissues such as the eyes and nose.
Sense of smell
In my opinion, the sense of smell is more fascinating, due to the endless variety of aromas we can experience. When eating, we feel the smell and aroma through the nose (inhalation) and through the mouth (chewing releases odor molecules). Most of our food eating enjoyment can be attributed to aroma.
Aroma is defined as the stimulation caused in the nose by evaporating substances. Aroma differentiates between various foods. Anyone can try a test in which they closes their eyes and nose with their fingers and ask someone to give them some foods to identify on the basis of taste and texture only. In most cases, it will be very difficult to make a correct guess without aroma.
Most smells we feel derive from mixing a large number of simultaneous signals to the brain, which, in turn, translates them into something resembling a unique “fingerprint” for each smell. Unlike humans, animals have a much more sensitive sense of smell, but despite conventional wisdom, our ability to distinguish and recognize a wide variety of odors is higher and more developed than animals.