Why Donuts with Coffee?
Like many mornings I walk into Wawa to get my morning fix of coffee. I fill my cup up with hazelnut coffee and make sure to leave some room for milk and sugar. As per usual as I make my way up the register, something catches my eye. The donut rack, they look so delicious. My brain is telling me I need one at this moment. Why do I crave one so badly at this moment, I think to myself. Why do I also associate donuts with coffee? And why does this craving only ever occur in the morning?
Coffee and donuts, possibly a match made in heaven, is an extremely common food combination in the U.S. A study conducted by the NPD group found that 41-42% of all United States breakfasts include coffee and 14.2% of all United States breakfasts include a donut. Nearly every coffee shop across the U.S menu will include doughnuts. It’s hard to find the two apart. Why is this combination so popular though? Why not coffee and bagel or bacon?
Scientist Robin Dando states, “When you drink caffeinated coffee, it will change how you perceive taste – for however long that effect lasts”. Due to the fact that caffeine suppresses the sweet taste in the mouth, you crave something sweet more so than you normally would. More specifically caffeine suppresses adenosine receptors which promote sleepiness and relaxation. The blockage of these receptors decreases your ability to taste sweetness resulting in a heightened craving for something sugary. Another reason that we so desire donuts with our coffee in the morning is due to the basic needs of the brain. Our brains need sugar to function normally. Overnight our blood level of sugar decreases with the passage of time. Therefore in the morning, the neurons in our brain crave sugar to maintain their ability to produce energy and communicate with other neurons. Sugar in the brain is also used to produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays a important role in learning and memory as well as regulating your mood. Next time you get a donut with your cup of coffee don’t feel so bad, your brain needs it.