Pouring the morning’s first cup of coffee presents a fundamental challenge—namely, that a mug full of hot liquid and a groggy person who just rolled out of bed don’t mix. The lack of caffeine in your system isn’t the only factor to blame for your frequent coffee spillage: The way you hold your mug also likely plays a part. In an effort to help clumsy coffee drinkers everywhere, a researcher calculated the most scientifically efficient way to hold your cup to avoid making a mess.

As Munchies reports, researcher Jiwon Han’s paper titled "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in Life Science [PDF], explains why coffee spills seem to happen so often. "Rarely do we manage to carry coffee around without spilling it once," he writes in the report. "In fact, due to the very commonness of the phenomenon, we tend to dismiss questioning it beyond simply exclaiming: 'Jenkins! You have too much coffee in your cup!'"

Through a series of calculations he concluded that it’s the design of the coffee mug that makes the liquid inside more prone to aggressive sloshing. If you’re not open to drinking your coffee from a wine glass, Han proposes an alternative solution: The "claw-hand" method. Instead of holding a mug by the handle, holding it from the top (with a strong grip) should reduce the amount of oscillations. He also posits that walking backwards may make drinkers less likely to spill as it forces our bodies to rely on a "sideways swinging motion" to stay balanced. But he also adds this caveat.

"A few trials will soon reveal that walking backwards, much more than suppressing resonance, drastically increases the chances of tripping on a stone or crashing into a passing by colleague who may also be walking backwards (this would most definitely lead to spillage)."

If you don’t trust yourself to rely on math that early in the morning, adult sippy cups are always an option.

[h/t Munchies]

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