Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Finally, Science is Doing Something Useful!

April 5, 2011 1 comment

Photo Credit: Aaron Logan

I love coffee. It has lots of flavour nuance (yes, I actually said nuance) and my brain loves stimulants.

But here’s the problem. I come into work in the morning, and I get a coffee. It is too hot to drink at first, so I let it sit for a few minutes.

However, after reading a few emails I get distracted and forget about my poor coffee. By the time I remember it, which is usually about an hour later, it is far too cold.

So I take it to the microwave to heat it up. However, it gets too hot, so I have to let it sit for a few minutes.

And the cycle goes on. It is definitely one of our #firstworldproblems, but it annoys me nonetheless.

But behold! The Coffee Temperature Regulating Thing-a-ma-jig!

The Coffee Joulie

Actually they are called Coffee Joulies, and they even have a Kickstarter page to raise some money to get the business up and running.

So how do they actually work? Each stainless steel “joulie” contains a material which melts at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). If the coffee is hotter than this, the material absorbs thermal energy by undergoing a phase change (melting). This helps cool the coffee down faster. Once the temperature of the coffee dips below 140, the material remains slightly hotter than that until it solidifies, which keeps the coffee hotter, longer.

And no, I am in no way affiliated with these two guys who started this company, and I have no financial interest in the product. I just think it is an interesting solution to a common problem, and the solution is elegant in its simplicity.

The Physics of Coffee Rings

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

In keeping with the abstract on the physics of jump rope, the 63rd meeting of the American Physical Society has yielded yet another fascinating study.

63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics

Volume 55, Number 16 

Abstract: RU.00007 : Coffee ring deposition in bands


  Shreyas Mandre
    (Brown University)

  Ning Wu
    (Colorado School of Mines)

  Joanna Aizenberg
    (Harvard University)

  Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan
    (Harvard University)

Microscopic particles suspended in a liquid are transported and deposited at a contact line, as the contact line recedes due to evaporation. A particle layer of uniform thickness is deposited if the particle concentration is above a threshold; below this threshold the deposit forms periodic bands oriented parallel to the contact line. We present a model for the formation of these bands based on evaporation leading to the breakup of the thin liquid film near the contact line. The threshold results from a competition between evaporation speed and deposition speed. Using this model, we predict the thickness and length of the bands, making the control of patterned deposition possible.

[My comments: The authors used glass particles in a liquid to mathematically model how rings form. They can make these predictions using parameters such as evaporation rate and surface tension of the liquid. Aside from just being interesting, this study may have some practical implications for working at small scales.

Controlling the ring deposition process would be useful for creating such things as new microphysics tools operating at a scale where pliers or other traditional tools for moving particles cannot operate,” notes Mandre. (From]

Are You Nerd Enough? A Periodic Coffee Table

July 18, 2010 Leave a comment

If your bookshelf full of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein doesn’t convey enough “nerd vibe” for your apartment, perhaps you should pick up this so-amazing-I-can’t-believe-it coffee table.

I came across this one through one of my frequent forays into Gizmodo.

This coffee table not only has a periodic table of the elements engraved into the glass, but also has pieces of the elements themselves embedded into the glass as well!

For a mere $8550 US, you could be the nerdiest guy on the block.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, why you can even option to have your school or corporate logo engraved into the table as well.

So, Seriously, is Coffee Good or Bad for Me?

June 21, 2010 1 comment

Mmmm… I love that first cup in the morning don’t you?

Coffee has had a busy couple of weeks in the science community.

Two studies have recently been released testing the health benefits/detriments of our dear bitter and delicious friend. And one FDA warning about coffee…but first the studies.

The first was not good news, though it was also not really surprising. It seems that, for regular coffee drinkers, coffee acts like any other stimulant. Basically, after repeated use, the “crash” you get after the caffeine wears off tends to last for quite awhile. Consuming more coffee, say, the next day, only acts to bring you back up to baseline; how you would feel had you never drank any coffee in the first place.

Again, not great news, but also not really surprising. It seems we are a huge culture of drug addicts.

The other study was a bit more uplifting. It seems that regular coffee consumption, roughly a few cups per day, could actually decrease your risk of heart disease by as much as one third. Alright!

Seems that a couple times a year a new study is released saying how bad/good coffee is for you. My advice? Everything in moderation. Coffee is not gonna hurt you too much if you just have a cup a day.

And as if that weren’t enough, the FDA has just released a warning against consuming a product called Magic Power Coffee. It seems this brand of instant coffee is being marketed as a sexual enhancer.

The FDA has asked the public to stop using this product, as it may cause dangerously low blood pressure if used with other blood pressure control drugs, or sexual enhancement drugs, like Viagara.

Wow. Ridiculous. People, if you are having trouble in the bedroom, go to the doctor. Not an internet based coffee company.

And don’t be one of those coffee tweakers who constantly has a cup on the go. You know who you are…