Flavour optimization of beverages
Developing low calorie and/or functional beverages with superior flavour is of great interest for the beverage industry. Due to the very dilute nature of beverages, smart technologies have to be developed to produce stable formulations with great flavour. These technologies have been developed using multi-sensorial and –disciplinary approaches, combining principles from sensory and flavour sciences, ingredient technology and texture design. In this article, different technologies allowing sugar reduction and incorporation of functional ingredients are highlighted. Furthermore, opportunities for off-flavour masking in beverages are discussed.
FLAVOUR IS THE COMBINED SENSATION OF TASTE, AROMA AND MOUTHFEEL
The consumption of a beverage, or food, results in the simultaneous perception of taste and aroma coupled with tactile sensations, all of which contribute to the overall impression of flavour. Taste and smell are the two so called “chemical senses” as, unlike touch, they respond to chemical, not physical stimuli. The sense of smell creates perception in response to gaseous molecules that contact receptors in the nose, whereas the sense of taste creates perception in response to liquid molecules that contact receptors in the mouth. Besides aroma and taste, the tactile sensation a beverage produces in the mouth (mouth feel) is one of the major criteria which consumers use to judge its quality and hedonic value.
Taste, aroma and tactile stimuli are detected by specialized receptors in the mouth (1) and nose (2) to evoke an electrical signal encoding the quality and intensity of each stimulus. These signals are pre-processed in isolation, but brought together at higher brain levels (e.g. orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)) to form an overall sensation of the flavour of the product (3). It is ...