Humans are creatures of habit, and many of these habits are formed when we’re kids.
As kids, most people start out with a thirst for easy drinking and sweet drinks. We drink cordials and fruit juices, fizzy drinks for a treat, hot chocolate and so on. I know this isn’t ALL kids, but I think it probably describes a big percentage of us as youngsters. Most of us are brought up with a strong neural pathway to sweeter tasting substances, and we don’t tend to crave harsh and bitter tastes.
But as we get on a bit, our taste changes. I remember as a kid thinking that olives taste like crap, dark chocolate tasted like soap, and I remember tasting beer and wondering why so many people drank it, as there was just nothing enjoyable about it at all. I seem to remember tasting wine and scrunching my face up as if I’d just stuck my tongue on a battery. I also remember when I started liking olives, and thinking wow I now like olives, even black ones?? The same with dark chocolate, I tried it one day in my mid to late twenties and thought, oh, I like dark chocolate?
We change over the years in many ways of course, and that includes our taste. I won’t pretend to understand why, I’m sure there’s some biological explanation, there’s possibly a psychological explanation too, something to do with changing neural pathways? All I know is that my taste has changed over the years and most people I speak to find that they’re the same.
But the only reason I realised that I liked things I didn’t used to like, is that I have always been happy to try different things, and I’ve never been afraid to taste something that I didn’t think I like. I know adults who don’t eat particular things, who I’ve asked when they last tried them, to learn that they’ve not tried them since they were children. So, many people have an out of date opinion of what they do or don’t like the taste of due to an unwillingness to put themselves through the potential discomfort of tasting something unpleasant.
A friend of mine hates Cheese, can’t eat pizza, or anything which contains any cheese at all. I asked this person a while ago when the last time was that they actually tried it, and they couldn’t remember, it was as a young child. Well, they wouldn’t have liked wine at that age & they do now, they wouldn’t have liked beer at that age and they do now, and I could go on and on with other examples, the point is our taste changes.
Try Your Coffee Differently
My first suggestion would be to try coffee without any milk or sugar or any other sweetener, if you usually drink it with either or both – just try it as coffee with nothing else.
My second suggestion would be to try a different kind of coffee. If you usually only drink instant coffee, then grab a Hario V60 for instance for about a fiver, and get yourself some freshly roasted speciality coffee beans from an artisan roaster, ask them to grind for filter, and then try freshly brewed freshly roasted coffee without putting anything in it.
Once you have done this, try a different coffee, from a different origin, or with a different taste description, and see what you think.
I’m not saying you have to drink coffee black from now on, but just try it black and see what you think, you may be surprised. Drinking speciality coffee black isn’t the same as drinking instant coffee black, just give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
When a young person has coffee for the first time, what’s the one thing that is usually present? Milk. What’s the second thing that is usually present (especially if mum or dad isn’t looking)? Sugar. Many kids start out developing a taste for milky and sweet coffee. I know that was the case with me, I started out liking the taste of coffee, but it was bitter, and I didn’t like the taste of bitter stuff, so I wanted to put sugar in it. I grew up as a milk & 1 sugar kid, mainly because that was all I was allowed, it it was up to me it would have been three…
I used to love fishing, I spent hours sitting by canals or reservoirs staring at a float, and I always had coffee with me, in a flask. I would make my own coffee, and my hand would slip when putting in the sugar ;-), so my coffee when fishing was milky and quite sweet. If you’d have told me aged 12 or 13 that in my late thirties I would mainly drink coffee black, I would have not answered you as I was taught not to talk to strangers, in fact I was a cheeky little sod so I’d have probably said something abusive and then legged it, but I wouldn’t have believed you.
My other favourite drinks at that age were Coke, Lilt, Quatro (which I haven’t seen since the late 80s or early 90s, I don’t think it exists these days), Orangina (back when you had to shake it to wake it), hot chocolate, and milky tea. I was rarely allowed these drinks growing up, except for treats, or when I was round at my mate’s house who’s mum bought him 12 cans of coke a day at the weekend I seem to remember (how he has his own teeth still and doesn’t have diabetes, I’ll never know!) but they were what I craved.
When I first started drinking wine with my girlfriend, who then became my fiancee’ and then my wife (and is still my wife, we’ve been together since we were 16, I think she’s the most tolerant person on the planet ;-)) we both had a taste for sweet wines like Liebfraumilch, Hock, and sweeter red wines. As time went on we both developed a taste for deeper, bolder wines – and in fact neither of us are now keen on white wine, we both prefer red, and I think we would both prefer to drink water than to drink the kinds of wines we drank in our late teens and early twenties.
I think a lot of people are like this, they tend to start off with a preference for sweeter stuff, and their tasted tends to change over time. While it’s probably not the case with everyone, or not to the same degree, I think most people find that they don’t have exactly the same taste now that they did as youngsters.
Not Just Coffee
Why not challenge yourself to try other things which you don’t think you like, or to try things differently?
I grew up also drinking early grey tea. My great granny was posh, and whenever we went to her hers we would drink earl grey that she made from loose leaf tea, so I grew up liking the taste. But I always drank it with milk. A while back I heard about putting a slice of lemon in earl grey instead of milk, which seemed odd – but being someone who doesn’t at all mind trying new things, I tried it – and now on a sunny day, I always drink earl grey tea with lemon instead of milk, as it’s so much more refreshing.
Whiskey… I like it, but I used to drink blended scotch in coke, until I decided to try it neat, it tasted bad – but this was cheap blended whiskey. So I tried a single malt neat, and I’ve never drank a blend again, all I drink now if I fancy whisky, is neat single malt or Bourbon.
Rum, I didn’t think I liked it, until I tried dark spiced rum and found that I really enjoyed it particularly Cracken – which I also like neat.
I’m starting to sound like I have a drink problem ;-), and apart from having two hands and only one mouth, I don’t at all.
Avocado – think you don’t like it, try it and check.
Olives, if you think you hate them, are you sure about that? When was the last time you tried them? I was shocked when I discovered that I actually really like them.
Marmite… to be fair if you used to hate marmite you probably still do, but I love the stuff.
Sprouts, cabbage, parsnips, spinach, all these things are commonly disliked foods that you may be assuming you dislike based on your taste as a kid which may well have changed in the meantime.
There’s nothing wrong with not liking the taste of something, we’re all different, but many people just think they dislike something based on an out of date assumption, so it’s worth finding out.
Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.