Jimmy Kimmel Thinks Like a Freak

Starbucks recently came out with an ultra-high end cup of coffee. Wondering whether that cup of coffee was really worth $7, Kimmel took to the streets and ran some experiments.  He didn’t however, do what you might expect.  Rather, he pulled a page out of the old wine tasting experiment I ran twenty years ago. It is definitely worth watching. 

(HT: Robb Stokar)

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  1. Falsum says:

    The choice to not include the expensive coffee in the experiment was a good choice for humour, but it means that this isn’t really a valid experiment. People prompted to choose between what they are told are two different cups of coffee will be biased towards finding a difference in one of them. Of course, this bias is likely to be exactly what Starbucks is trading on with its $7 cup of coffee, but it is possible that the taste of the more expensive blend is sufficiently noticeable that it would overcome the tasters’ preconceived notions.

    Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if this experiment had a similar result if the expensive coffee were actually included in it.

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    • Gary Lowe says:

      Actually, it seems like a totally valid experiment to test the thesis that “People prompted to choose between what they are told are two different cups of coffee will be biased towards finding a difference in one of them”

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      • Charles NyanGiti says:

        Sounds like valid experiment – looks like it’s all in the experience and not actual taste, and not actual taste. Starbucks charges a premium for the “Starbucks experience”. It’s great coffee actually

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  2. Eric M. Jones. says:

    These people aren’t fools:

    1) What about those roses in the vase? Don’t you think that makes a difference?
    2) Every cup of coffee poored from a pot tasted a little different. The top and the dregs?
    3) This test table and location and interviewer can affect everything.

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  3. David says:

    Now, the most important question: Which way is going to say that they had a cold and their taste buds were not working properly?

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  4. Vinay says:

    Wouldn’t there be an inherent bias in this test, when people take a few sips from one cup and immediately another few from the other cup? The tongue and taste buds already have a layer of the previous coffee, which might affect the taste of the next cup (although, in this case the two cups have identical copies). Ideally, there should be some neutraliser given before the person sips coffee from any cup

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  5. RGJ says:

    The best taste test I ever saw was Penn and Teller on their BS show testing organic foods in a frou-frou farmers market. Funny as hell.

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    • Sol says:

      Penn & Teller also had a great one with bottled water. The waiter would come out and explain to the guest which far flung preserve or waterfall the different bottle water came from. In reality, they all were filled from the tap in the kitchen. Yet, that did not stop people from telling the waiter that they tasted different flavors in the water and which ones were better than others.

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      • RGJ says:

        I like the recent line “….or would you like tap water?” I wonder how that raises sales of their bottled brands.

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    • Neil (SM) says:

      I remember that. The water was actually filled from an old garden hose out back!

      My favorite option was the bottled water with some big spider in it.

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  6. keith says:

    Fascinating! This is one of those tests I would to try on autistics to see if they’re susceptible to that kind of suggestion. I might even guess the last guy was autistic.

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  7. Steve Nations says:

    The last guy was awesome. A perfect way to finish the segment.

    I would love to know what percentage of people said the same thing he did. I would guess less than 20%.

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  8. Jen says:

    Disclaimer: I don’t drink coffee.

    Aren’t there lots of taste test type studies about which one you taste first having an effect?

    If they all drank in A B order, and several do seem to say that A seems stronger — which would make sense in terms of order — the first sip or two of coffee are going to taste “more” than the subsequent ones. So, whichever was sipped first would likely be called richer or stronger and the second described as, say, smoother — that is, less of a jolt to the taste buds.

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