How to Walk Without Spilling Your Coffee

It has inevitably happened to all coffee drinkers: You fill your mug just a little too full and struggle to carefully walk back to your desk or table without some drops of coffee spilling over the edge …

Walking with coffee

An interesting study shows that the combination of the mug, your legs and coffee works against your best attempts and actually causes spills to occur somewhere between your seventh and tenth step. Who would have guessed that our walking stride is just the right frequency to oscillate the coffee when it’s in a normal size mug?

Worse yet, the researchers out of the University of California at Santa Barbara say that when you stumble or change your pace (which happens to me when I’m low on caffeine or trying extra hard not to spill my coffee) it causes even greater chaos in the mug – just waiting to pick up enough motion to spill over the edge.

Here are some practical tips from the research project to keep your cup full of coffee and your floors clean:

  • Walk slowly – rather than rush to your preferred destination in hopes to beat the spill walk slower to prevent the natural sloshing.
  • Keep your eyes on the cup – rather than looking down at your feet focus on the cup. The researchers found that people who watched the cup were able to take more steps before spilling.
  • Don’t accelerate – any sudden movement with a hot cup of coffee in your hand just asks for a spill.

While these three tips are common sense it’s still fun to read a physicist’s point of view on coffee. You can read the full article Why is it so hard to walk and not spill your coffee for all the details.

Let’s just hope you don’t spill a cup made from our gourmet coffee beans!


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