In last Sunday’s Seattle Times Health Q&A series, a concerned reader asked columnists Joe and Teresa Graedon if the ceramic cup wears at their neighborhood cafe could transmit nasty diseases, like the common cold, the seasonal flu, and what-have-you. This reader’s cause for concern comes from this unfortunate cafe experience: “I was shocked to see the barista at the coffee shop grab my cup by the edge and then press the lid on with her palm.”

Joe and Teresa referred to a 1982 study from the University of Virginia to answer the reader’s question:

It is relatively easy to transmit microbes via coffee cups. A study conducted at the University of Virginia demonstrated that half of the volunteers touching contaminated coffee-cup handles caught colds.

In light of this shocking feature in the SeaTimes, we present to you six wrong ways (and one right way) to properly handle a demitasse (or any cup, really).


1. The Lip Grip

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2. The Finger Dip


3. The All-In


4. The Open Palm


5. The Tender Touch


6. The Pinch


7. The Teacher’s Pet

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