A Cold Cup of Joe

Mom believes that her coffee gets colder faster in the living room than in the kitchen.  She claims it’s because the air conditioner runs cooler in the living room than anywhere else in the house.  She proves this by complaining each time it kicks on that it’s blowing directly on her so she needs to wear a sweater even in the heat of summer.  The fact that the temperature is set to 78 and the AC vent is at least 25 feet away from her and blowing out at ceiling level doesn’t sway her argument.  And, even though Bill bought an airflow diverter and positioned it over the vent, which causes the air to blow straight down, not out, hasn’t altered her complaints.  Her argument falls apart completely in the winter, but she chooses to ignore this.  The sweater remains and the coffee continues to cool with unprecedented speed.

To help keep the heat in the cup, I found a small container cover and I place it over the top of her mug every morning, Monday through Saturday, before I bring her coffee to her.  For a while she claimed that this seemed to help because it kept the frigid air off of the hot liquid.  But, after a few weeks, she reverted back to her original claim that her coffee got colder faster in the living room than it did in the kitchen during Sunday breakfast.

Now Bill and I aren’t physicists but we understand that if you consume a cup of coffee during, say Sunday breakfast, and it only takes you 20 minutes or so to drain the cup, it probably will remain relatively hot during that short amount of time.  As opposed to sipping it off and on throughout the entire one hour broadcast of The Price Is Right, during which time the coffee will cool exponentially as the minutes tick by.  But I gave up a long time ago trying to explain the rationale of time versus heat retention.  Now I’m dealing with a new phenomenon.

This morning, after I loaded Bill’s and my empty coffee mugs into the dishwasher, I peeked into the living room and asked Mom if she was done with her coffee, even though it had only been a half an hour since I’d brought it to her.  At first she shook her head no, then quickly reversed her decision.

“Never mind,” she called out.  “Come and get it.”

“Are you done drinking it?” I asked, walking into the living room.

“Not quite, but almost, so you can take it away,” she instructed, waving her hand in a shooing motion over the top of the cup.

I lifted the small plastic lid and peeked inside.  There was at least half a cup remaining.  “Mom, this is half full.”

“I know, but it’s cold,” she replied.

I picked up the mug and felt the remaining warmth as it seeped through the pottery and into my fingers.  “It isn’t anywhere near cold,” I said.

“Well not yet it isn’t,” she sniffed.  “But it’s getting cold.”

“Well it’s always ‘getting’ cold,” I argued.  “From the minute I pour it out of the pot, it’s getting cold.”

“Well it’s getting too cold too fast, so take it away,” she ordered.

As I turned to leave, she shot a parting remark at my back.  “Besides, if I was drinking it in the kitchen it would still be hot!”

“If you were drinking it in the kitchen,” I shot back, “it would be gone!”

“Exactly!” she call out.  “Hot and gone.”

Moms coffee cup


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