Caffeine addiction boosts ability to smell faint traces of coffee

People who regularly drink coffee are able to sniff out even the faintest whiffs of coffee aroma, according to a new study. The research found that regular coffee drinkers become more sensitive to the smell of the energizing beverage, and they're also able to identify it at a faster rate compared to non-coffee drinkers. The study follows recent research that found coffee drinkers get an energy boost just by thinking about coffee.

Coffee has a distinct aroma and, for many people who often consume the beverage, it is associated with an increase in energy levels. The stimulation effect has resulted in a large population that regularly drinks coffee, and a study described as the first of its kind found that these individuals eventually develop a heightened sensitivity to the product's smell.

The study, which comes out of the University of Portsmouth, also found that habitual coffee drinkers get better at sniffing out a nearby coffee beverage as their cravings increase. The university's Department of Psychology Dr. Lorenzo Stafford, who led the study, explained:

We found the higher the caffeine use, the quicker a person recognized the odour of coffee. We also found that those higher caffeine users were able to detect the odour of a heavily diluted coffee chemical at much lower concentrations, and this ability increased with their level of craving. So, the more they desired caffeine, the better their sense of smell for coffee.

Caffeine is only mildly addictive compared to substances like alcohol, but the study demonstrates that even these relatively mild habits can result in an associated scent being the trigger that results in cravings. The findings may prove useful for future drug treatments that may address issues like tobacco dependency.