What is the Difference between Sour and Bitter?

Difference between Sour and Bitter
Difference between Sour and Bitter

The basic difference between Sour and Bitter is that The sour taste is the one that comes from the acidity that the foods we consume have and is pleasant to the taste, it can come from citrus fruits and yogurt; While bitter is one of the most unpleasant flavors that we can experience and comes from a defense mechanism of our body, as it is usually an indicator of toxicity, you can find it in coffee, beer, and cocoa.

What is Sour?

This word comes from the Greek “Ἅγριος” a term that can be translated as “Wild” and from the Latin “Acres” which means “sharp or stabbing”. This word is attributed to aggressive flavors to the taste and therefore it is usually attributed to acidic flavors such as lemon or vinegar.

The sour or sour taste is detected by the tongue through the taste buds, which alert the brain to this taste. Not all acidic foods are beneficial to health, it is also found in poisonous substances or in spoiled food.

Sour foods have a pH of less than 7.

It is one of the five basic flavors that taste buds detect, these have sensors that detect hydronium ions (H3O +) that are formed when there are acids in the presence of water.

The sensors in our tongue that detect these flavors are known as TAS2R.

Some acidic foods are citrus fruits, apples, passion fruit, plums, kiwi, fermented dairy, tamarind, pineapple, grapes, stewed tomato, cream cheese, and vinegar.


It is one of the five basic flavors and it is the one that requires the most work when it comes to acquiring its taste, as it is the most unpleasant of the five.

According to some evolutionary theories, this is due to the fact that taste is interpreted as unpleasant in many cultures and in our brain as a defense mechanism to avoid poisoning since the taste of poisons is usually bitter.

The sensors of our tongue in charge of detecting the bitter taste are the sensors called T2R. We even have genes that code for proteins in order to receive bitter tastes.

The substances that provide this flavor are high molecular weight inorganic salts.

Bitter flavors are found in medications such as aspirin and most antibiotics. It is also typical in inorganic salts such as magnesium, tungsten, and copper salts.

Bitter foods include unsweetened pure coffee, unsweetened chocolate, beer, bitter melon, citrus peel, dandelions, very ripe lemon juice, and quinine, the main ingredient in tonic waters.

The bitter taste is used deliberately in some cocktails, in which ingredients such as Bitter Angostura are used. The most famous drinks due to their bitter taste are Disaronno Amaretto, Campari, and Fernet Branca.

This flavor is also used in desserts to enhance the sweet flavor, such as the case of amaretto liqueur that is poured over ice cream.

Difference between sour and bitter

  • The bitter taste is unpleasant for our brain and some cultures, as it is associated with poisons.
  • The sour or acid taste is also associated with poisons or decaying substances, but it is better accepted by our bodies.
  • The bitter taste can be found in foods like unsweetened coffee, beer, or unsweetened dark chocolate.
  • The acidic taste can be found in lemons, plums, grapefruits, and any food with a pH lower than 7.

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