Cup of coffee and coffee beans. Released by Marcus Brewster on behalf of Nestle. Supplied to Verve, The Star.

London - Smoking spoils the taste of a cup of coffee – even after quitting, say scientists.

The strong, bitter taste of caffeine is usually easily detected, even in tiny amounts – but not for those who light up. It seems their ability to taste is harmed by the toxic chemicals found in tobacco.

To find out whether taste is still affected even after people stop smoking, scientists tested how well 451 volunteers could recognise the four basic flavours of sweet, sour, bitter and salty, as well as the intensity of each taste.

The study, published in the journal Chemosensory Perception, found that whether the volunteers smoked or not did not affect whether they could recognise salty, sweet or sour tastes – but it did have an effect on the bitter taste of caffeine.

One in five smokers and one in four ex-smokers could not correctly recognise the taste. However, a mere 13 percent of non-smokers failed the taste test.

Researchers believe the build-up of tobacco in the body could stop taste buds renewing themselves and so harm a person’s ability to recognise certain tastes, even after they have stopped smoking.

Dr Nelly Jacob, of Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, where the experiment was conducted, said that this ability to taste bitter foods and drinks ‘:should be examined more closely” in order to help people stop smoking, as well preventing people from taking up the habit. - Daily Mail