Foam art is a lovely last touch to your latte -- that is, before you destroy it with a big slurp. But is it worth paying more for such a fleeting craft?
Apparently the answer is yes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies. Researchers found that people expect to pay -- and were willing to pay -- more for a latte or milk-based coffee drink when it sported foam art, even though there was no discernible difference in taste compared to a boring art-less latte. Beyond that, though, the shape and symbolism of the foamy art further affected perception of the latte's taste, quality, and cost.
"If coffee producers want to manipulate people's expectations of their products, adding a star-like shape to a cappuccino will likely increase expected bitterness, likability and quality," the researchers concluded, "although rounded and angular shapes influence the perception of cost and quality."