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I have a friend who likes to drink coffee every morning - one of the few luxuries he allows himself throughout the day.

One day, I notice that he drinks his coffee without any type of protection for his hand - no coffee sleeve, no second cup, nothing between the paper and his own skin.

Now, his hand is a normal, perfectly functioning hand, he is holding a perfectly normal disposable coffee cup with it, I can tell it has no insulation material of any kind, and I know that he doesn't ask for cream or sugar, so this has me slightly alarmed.

Nevertheless, he assures me that he is in no danger of burning his hand.

I'm skeptical, but I've never noticed him flinch when grabbing his cup - how is he so safe to drink his coffee freely?

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closed as too broad by A E, Engineer Toast, Alconja, Deusovi Aug 11 '16 at 2:19

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps hes not a coward? $\endgroup$ – marsh Jul 25 '16 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ @marsh Even brave men can suffer a burn - just ask firefighters. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ As someone who only drinks iced coffee, this puzzle was very confusing! $\endgroup$ – user1717828 Jul 25 '16 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a downvoter. No hard feelings, but here's my take on it. I like these kinds of questions, but I find this broad. I often drink coffee out of a paper cup in this manner, as do many in my office -- hot, warm, tepid -- and our hands are just fine. However, I also drink iced coffee every day, and never in my life have I seen someone drink iced coffee from a paper cup (not sure why, I've just only seen paper cups used for fresh hot coffee). $\endgroup$ – Roland Jul 25 '16 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ not much of a riddle when the answer is the first thing i think of $\endgroup$ – Keltari Jul 25 '16 at 21:43
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Perhaps

he only drinks iced coffee

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  • $\begingroup$ Dang you beat me by a few seconds $\endgroup$ – clintperry Jul 25 '16 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ Somehow, I mixed up the "x minutes ago" notification, and thought that the other answer arrived first - my mistake! I'll award you the checkmark in 10 minutes. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't even have to be iced coffee - it could just be "hot" coffee that isn't hot enough to burn. $\endgroup$ – mbeckish Jul 25 '16 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @mbeckish He'd have to be pretty confident to do that every day... $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 17:08
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This is because he is

Drinking iced coffee

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  • $\begingroup$ Well that was quick. :( Thought it might trip people up a bit more. Oh well. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 14:45
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He lets it cool down to a manageable temperature before he drinks it.
That's how I do it all the time.

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    $\begingroup$ Not a bad answer in itself - and it would definitely work, since I never said he drank it right away. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 14:56
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I see there is an accepted answer already, but the one I thought of was that your friend drinks his coffee from one of these:

Paper cup with a handle

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He drinks it as hot as his mouth can handle but doesn't hold it for long each sip. To carry it, one hand underneath (typical paper cups have a rims on the bottom which doesn't get hot) and the edge of the lid/rim held with fingertips.

The takeaway place at my local station used to regularly run out of sleeves so I've done this quite a lot.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to say no to this one - He specifically said he is in no danger of burning his hand - while a special holding technique would prevent any burning of fingers if done right, there's still a danger that his fingers could slip, especially holding the cup in such a precarious way. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Zibbobz It's not at all precarious. Either hand could vanish into thin air and the cup wouldn't fall. In fact the coffee is probably less likely to slop than holding it in one hand. I'm not saying it's the answer, but it makes the class of valid answers rather large. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Jul 25 '16 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ Also: "he assures [you]" leaves some room for him to underestimate the risks $\endgroup$ – Chris H Jul 25 '16 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ Being a coffee drinker, and having attempted this holding position in the past, I'm going to say it's still fairly precarious, and while it is true that he might underestimate his own risk, the argument for this is pretty weak. Not unsustainable mind you - but not as strong as the other answers. Though maybe I should add a line to this riddle - that I myself believe he's perfectly safe after he explains his reasoning. Or just that he holds it with one hand in a perfectly ordinary way. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jul 25 '16 at 16:32
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Whilst I got iced coffee immediately, too obvious as you'd put too much emphasis into the relationship of 'too hot' between coffee and hand. Reinforcing other comments about being too broad, another solution:

Cup is larger than the drink requires.

i.e. Large cup for medium drink, the extra cup not in contact with coffee fails to absorb large amounts of heat from the liquid below whilst radiating enough to maintain roughly the same low temperature.

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He's worked in a kitchen, or anywhere similar that leads to a similar result. Here he has touched hot things a lot of the time and so his hand has developed a robustness to the heat.

I have a "perfectly normal hand" and I can hold normal boiling hot drinks in paper cups because I used to handle hot plates all the time.

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