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In a five star hotel, I ordered for a cup of coffee. When I was about to sip, I found a fly in the coffee. I complained. The manager apologized, took back the cup and brought another fresh hot one. But I realized that he bought the same coffee. I sued the hotel in a consumer court and won compensation. The question is not how I won the case. How could I recognize that the manager has bought the same coffee?

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closed as too broad by skv, Peter Taylor, Aza Nov 13 '14 at 20:32

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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    $\begingroup$ The same cup of coffee with milk $\endgroup$ – Debanjan Chakraborty Nov 13 '14 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ bought? brought? $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Nov 13 '14 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ There is a way too many correct answers to this one unless the person who wrote it wont accept anything that would obviously work $\endgroup$ – Legotruck Nov 13 '14 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Legotruck is right. Pretty much every one of the answers below is satisfactory. There is no definitive answer to this problem. It should be tagged [guessing-game]. $\endgroup$ – Eric Nov 13 '14 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see a Single perfect answer, if the OP has a really clever answer, better than all provided thus far, it could be a really good riddle. After that one could edit the question to narrow it down and exclude trivial answers. $\endgroup$ – Falco Nov 14 '14 at 8:50

18 Answers 18

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The cup has an unique IPv6 address?

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    $\begingroup$ This must be it! $\endgroup$ – Avigrail Nov 13 '14 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ Even with IPv4, could be a unique MAC address. I'm sure you're thinking along the right lines here! :) $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 13 '14 at 12:44
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Here is one possibility

You had already added the sugar before observing the fly. This time when you added the sugar again, it was extra sweet. You produced that cup of coffee with video recording that you added sugar just once still coffee contains double sugar.

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    $\begingroup$ That doesn't prove anything. Perhaps the second cup accidentally had sugar added to it before it was brought out to you. Won't hold up in court at all. $\endgroup$ – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 13 '14 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @LightnessRacesinOrbit Good hotels have good chefs which are known for consistent recipes. It is always possible to check the sugar level in chef's original coffee vs the one available (produced by this guy in court of law) in a lab. $\endgroup$ – Mohit Jain Nov 14 '14 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Mohit: "Oh, the chef would never have done that! This is a 'good hotel' with a 'good chef'! Therefore I must assume that he simply sent out the same coffee that used to have a fly in it." It's clearly contradictory! $\endgroup$ – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ @LightnessRacesinOrbit Thank you for your comments and igniting more thoughts. Let me explain this way: If probability of having a fly is 1 in 10 mn and probability of accidentally adding sugar is 1 in 100,000. Probability of both happening is 1e-12. Still as a judge if you want to give benefit of doubt, you may check other answers. This is the limit I can defend my answer :) because this is the only one that came to my mind. Possibly salt one is good. $\endgroup$ – Mohit Jain Nov 14 '14 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ The salt argument is essentially identical to the sugar argument. $\endgroup$ – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 12:26
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You put salt in it before you sent it back. That's a flavor that just doesn't belong in your coffee.

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You already added the milk/sugar?

The fly was still there?

The coffee had been in the cup long enough that the outside of the cup had had time to heat up?

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    $\begingroup$ Then he was a lazy manager, if the fly was still there $\endgroup$ – Debanjan Chakraborty Nov 13 '14 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ Remove the fly..... the rest is I think correct $\endgroup$ – Debanjan Chakraborty Nov 13 '14 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ I find it doesn't take very long for the outside of a coffee cup to heat up... it's on the order of seconds. $\endgroup$ – Psychemaster Nov 13 '14 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Psychemaster, depends on the thickness of the cup. We have some big thick coffee mugs in our house. ;) $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 13 '14 at 14:52
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You had not told the manager how you take your coffee (managers of 5 star hotels are rarely at ground level taking orders), so there is no way the manager knew how to make a new cup.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe the manager just checked with whoever took the original order? $\endgroup$ – Scimonster Nov 13 '14 at 17:27
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The customer in question is female, and there was lipstick on the cup.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't really work with the "When I was about to sip..." part of the story - that suggests to me that the OP's lips never touched the cup. $\endgroup$ – BiscuitBaker Nov 13 '14 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't hold up in court. The lipstick could have been on a mug taken from the kitchen. Not good of course, but doesn't say anything about the original cup of coffee. $\endgroup$ – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 13 '14 at 19:32
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What if:

the cup was chipped and so recognizable.

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I don't expect the waiter to be stupid enough to bring a coffee already mixed with milk again. There might have been some color on the cup from your lips (assuming you are a woman) but again he should have seen that.

You could have told from the temperature which decreases when the cup is carried around. Maybe there was no steam in the air, no smell. But you said he brought a "fresh hot one" which confused me. I also thought about the surface of the coffee that changes from a gleaming one to a dull, black one after some time. Plus, the fly or the object that picked the fly could have had influence on that.

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You could still taste the fly in the cup.

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The manager came back too fast. In a five star hotel, one can expect good, fresh made coffee - and such coffee needs >= 5 minutes in preparation and letting it steep.

This is because good coffee loses too much flavour when not grinded literally just seconds before brewing.

So if the manager came back in under five minutes, he could not bring a new cup of coffee.

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"But I realized that he bought the same coffee."

"How could I recognize that the manager has bought the same coffee?"

The receipt was left on your table. In plain text you saw: Medium Fly Coffee $2.99

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    $\begingroup$ At a Five Star joint? That's ridiculously cheap! $\endgroup$ – David Wilkins Nov 13 '14 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Obviously you're being up-charged. That's what Joe's Coffee across the street charges! $\endgroup$ – Kyle Nov 13 '14 at 20:07
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The ear of the cup was warm from being in the microwave?

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If the hotel had a system like Starbucks where you get your name on the coffee cup, you may have realized that it was the same cup.

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"The manager apologized, took back the cup and brought another fresh hot one."

He brought back another fresh, hot cup. The coffee in the cup was the same coffee, and still had the fly in it.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Rob It still had the fly in it. $\endgroup$ – Egghead99 Nov 13 '14 at 17:56
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the same batch and variety of coffee, just a different cup of it. The fly may not have been in the cup, but actually lay among the original source of the coffee.

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    $\begingroup$ seriously, he said it was a fresh cup of coffee. its a puzzle, its not trying to teach you how to spot poor service in a quality establishment. $\endgroup$ – fearless wonbat Nov 13 '14 at 16:53
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The cup was hot, but the coffee was lukewarm

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The fly was was a fly of a different sort...

spanish fly

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You did what everybody would do in these cases. You put the cup in a plastic bag and sent it to the lab for fingerprints. And the fly for autopsy.

If you find your own fingerprints, that means it is the same cup.

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