If you take your coffee with cream and sugar, which ingredient do you add to your cup first? Coffee, then milk or cream, then sugar? Or perhaps cream, then coffee, then sugar?
The order makes a difference, according to Claire Lower, who pleaded her case in an article for Skillet after catching her boyfriend pouring cold half and half into his mug before adding the sugar. “My boyfriend was doing it wrong, and I had to tell him,” she wrote.
Her boyfriend’s approach is ill-advised, Lower explains, because of basic physics. Sugar dissolves more easily in piping hot liquids, and cream lowers the overall temperature of your coffee or tea. As a result, you might end up with a heap of raw sugar at the bottom of your mug, depending on how sweet you like your beverage to be.
Lower even backed up her argument with an experiment: “In an effort to quantify, I did a comparison where I added a sugar cube to an ounce of coffee and another sugar cube to a mixture of 3/4 ounces of coffee and 1/4 ounce of cold half & half; the sugar cube in the creamy coffee took 26 more seconds of stirring to dissolve than the sugar cube in black coffee,” she writes.
Half a minute can make all the difference when it stands between a non-morning person and their first cup of joe. There are a few ways to make sugar dissolve faster, though. Breaking up clumps of sugar, stirring your beverage, and yes, heating it up are all scientifically sound methods of ensuring your coffee reaches its peak before you take your first sip.