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Foam or No Foam? New Study Says Which Coffee Drinks Are Less Likely to Spill

Would you like extra foam on that latte?

Researchers discover why foam makes lattes less likely to spill than coffee. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

In the latest round of coffee versus lattes, lattes win.

A new study published Tuesday has discovered how the foam on lattes makes them less likely to spill than regular coffee, the Washington Post reported.

Researchers discover why foam makes lattes less likely to spill than coffee. (Photo credit: Shutterstock) Researchers discover why foam makes lattes less likely to spill than coffee. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The study came to fruition as a Starbucks employee told Emilie Dressaire, an assistant professor at New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering, she didn't need a stopper lid to keep her latte from spilling. Dressaire's colleague at the at the French National Center for Scientific Research, Alban Sauret, had noticed the same effect in beer.

It just so happened that both drinks contained foam on the top, leading them both to wonder how it could keep liquid from sloshing over the rim of the cup.

So they began to experiment by filling a glass container with water, dish soap and glycerol. They shook the container as the bubbles were still light, as they expanded and then as they got extra heavy. What they concluded is that, indeed, bubbles (or foam) acts as a virtual lid for the liquids beneath it, according to the Post.

In fact, the researchers noticed that in cases when there were about five layers of bubbles, the height by which the liquid could splash was 10 times lower than if it had less foam. But be careful. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing as the study also found there to be little effect in examples where there were more than five layers of foam.

Remember that the next time you're in line at your favorite coffee shop, in anguish over whether the extra buzz from a latte might be worth a couple extra dollars.

You might be getting more for your money than you originally thought.

(H/T: Washington Post)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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