Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cinnamon Snot Ball

Today we conducted an experiment - please see report below for details.

Background Information (via Brandy):
Over the past two weeks I have been attempting to create my delicious breakfast coffee in a more "natural" manner...a.k.a. cut out the SUGAR! I remembered one time my mom putting cinnamon in her Starbucks coffee and it made it sweeter than mine. So, I decided cinnamon it is. Everything was going well. Coffee was sweet. I added more cinnamon every day until I started dumping about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon into the bottom of my coffee cup...but I was loving the outcome.

One day I came home from work and went to clean out my coffee cup only to find a GINORMOUS cinnamon snot ball in the bottom of the cup. I'm not joking here people. I am going to detail the scene for you - unscrew the white top of the travel mug; grasp the pink handle and tip it to the side thinking there is nothing in it (why would there be? I had drank all the coffee that morning); one hard shake (it's just my routine); suddenly a dark blob slowly creeps out and drops into the drain; wide eyes, blink multiple times to make sure I'm not seeing things, look between the cup and the sink multiple times, then set the cup down; gingerly pick up the drain stopper by the edge because the thing in the middle is covered by cinnamon slime; THE SLIME BALL DOES NOT SLIDE THROUGH THE DRAIN HOLES!!!; drop the stopper and turn on water...clogged sink from a cinnamon slime ball; dump cinnamon slime ball onto a paper towel and inspect it; throw out cinnamon slime ball.

After immediately deciding to not sweeten with cinnamon until this mystery was solved, sugar made a repeat appearance in my coffee. We (Brandy and I) decided to investigate the cinnamon snot ball phenomenon through the scientific process this weekend.

Dad's hypothesis: when large amounts of cinnamon are added to any hot drink, a cinnamon snot ball will occur.

John's hypothesis: when large amounts of cinnamon are added to any hot, acidic drink, such as coffee, a cinnamon snot ball will occur.

Other possible variables could be consistent drinking motion, sealed container, presence of milk and amount of cinnamon.

Keurig (star performer in this experiment)
2 K-cups
5 mugs

1 - after 4 mile run prepare 2 pumpkin spice coffees with the Keurig and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on the top of each
2 - place 2 tablespoons of cinnamon in the bottom of 3 cups
3 - use Keurig and one K-cup to put hot coffee in cup 1; use Keurig and no K-cup to put hot water in cup 2; use microwave to heat milk and add to cup 3

4 - allow all cups sit for a minimum of 2 hours and observe
5 - place 2 tablespoons of cinnamon in the bottom of 2 new cups
6 - use Keurig to make a coffee and cool with ice to match room temperature water
7 - put room temperature coffee in cup 4; put room temperature water in cup 5
8 - allow both cups to sit for a minimum of 2 hours and observe

Original morning pumpkin spice coffees did not result in a cinnamon snot ball, and thus the variable of amount of cinnamon was kept constant in all further experiments as it was a factor. Sprinkles of cinnamon do not seem to create snot balls.

Cup 1 (hot, coffee) resulted in a HUGE cinnamon snot ball. Cup 2 (hot water) resulted in HUGE cinnamon snot ball. Cup 3 (hot milk) did not result in snot ball. It was still clumped, but powder when broken apart.
Please note the drain clogging ability of the hot water cinnamon snot ball. This was not an action shot - this was being held there for an extended period of time (my cell phone is VERY slow at taking pictures, believe me)

Cup 4 (room temperature coffee) resulted in smaller snot ball. It was not as stretchy or viscous as warmer counterpart. Cup 5 (room temperature water) resulted in smaller snot ball. Same as room temperature coffee. Milk was not tested in the cold temperature experiment as it did not create a snot ball in the previous test.

Neither hypothesis was correct. As it turned out neither the heat, nor the acidity can completely explain the cinnamon snot ball phenomenon. Pure milk did not create a snot ball, indicating the extreme basic nature of milk did not allow it to form. Water, which should be neutral, did. One possible uncontrolled variable is the pH of the water. In the future an experiment should be run using both well and bottled water, preferable testing all water and other liquids with a pH test. Another uncontrolled variable is the actual cinnamon used. It is possible that Aldi's cinnamon needs to returned for it's promised refund. In the future an experiment should be run using different brands of cinnamon.

Throughout the experiment we kept questioning how Starbucks could create a cinnamon dulce latte without a cinnamon snot ball. To finalize our experiment we headed to Starbucks and engaged in a detailed conversation with a brand new employee as to the ingredients in a cinnamon dulce latte. No employee in the store was aware of the cinnamon snot ball phenomenon because Starbucks uses LIQUID cinnamon flavor. However, we believe that if the CEO of Starbucks was aware of this the cinnamon phenomenon the cinnamon shaker would be removed from the counter as a sweetening option. Do you know what's looming at the bottom of your Starbucks cup?

1 comment: