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How to Fill a Mug

How to Fill a Mug

Here on planet Earth, mug filling is a basic skill that you will use frequently. So, it is worth the effort to understand mug-filling basics and achieve mastery of this vital expertise.

1. Orientation

Before attempting to fill any mug, make sure the mug is oriented with the open side up. Mugs that are oriented with the open side down are extremely difficult to fill and the contents will seldom remain in the mug. 

If you have difficulty remembering which direction is "up," it is always away from the source of gravitational pull...the center of the planet—what we call "down."

A correctly oriented mug should look like this.


The importance of this step is captured in the traditional rhyme...
   You better stop.
   Locate the top.
   Or you'll need a mop.

2. Pre-pouring

There are two pre-pouring steps. First, make sure the mug is empty. Attempting to add content to a mug that is already full or partially full can result in a condition called "over fill." This term refers to the case when the contents of the mug exceeds the capacity of the mug to contain contents. Very messy.


Worse, attempting to fill a mug that is already full or partially full can result in the mixing of contents that should never be combined, such as coffee + tea, cocoa + beer, lint + margarita, hot toddy + pencils, etc. These obnoxious combinations can range from aesthetically revolting to explosive.


The second pre-pouring step is to locate the substance that you intend to pour into the mug. A popular choice is coffee, but some prefer tea, milk, juice, brandy, water, or a kryptonite shake.

No pouring can begin until that filling substance is available. Caution: obtaining the substance you intend to pour can require "shopping," "cooking," and "mixing" steps. The scope of these activities is too complex to cover in these instructions. But be aware that some of these efforts can be extremely time consuming. So plan ahead.

3. Fill

Finally, you are ready to pour. Assuming the substance you are pouring is liquid or semi-liquid, you can let gravity do most of the work. Position the container with the filling content over the open end of the mug and gradually allow the substance to descend into the mug. In some situations a funnel can help.


Important! Stop pouring before the mug is fully full. In most situations, you can consider the mug to be nominally "full" when it is at 90 percent of the mug's capacity. This technique allows a precautionary margin that will help reduce inconvenient spills caused by jiggling, high winds, earthquakes, and so forth. A mug that is filled to its absolute capacity is vulnerable to irksome sloshing. Overfilling a mug is a sure sign of inexperience that differentiates novice fillers from seasoned veterans.


Tip: If you are working in conditions of zero gravity, it will be necessary to make adjustments to your mug-filling techniques. These will be covered in a future lesson (How to Fill Your Mug in Zero Gravity).

Please let me know if you found these instructions to be useful.

Frequent practice of your mug-filling skills will soon lead to mastery. You’ll undoubtedly find this capability useful every day.

Don—Pittsburgh, February 17, 2022


Imagine my surprise...I thought I was going to use the word "indubitably" in this blog, but things just didn't work out that way. 

Comments on this post (46)

  • May 02, 2022

    Now I know what I was doing wrong!! Thanks for the extremely informative instructions. You learn something new every day

    — Rikki

  • Apr 25, 2022

    Overconfidence upon successful pouring leads to overfill. I am currently battling this step. Filling a mug to 100% capacity leads to a situation of needing to place your mouth at the mug rim level and slurp while your mouth hovers over the liquid. This produces slop and annoying burns and dribbles down your chin. Practice makes perfect! I am hopeful.

    — Laurie

  • Apr 03, 2022

    I’m really hopeful the legislation to ban Kryptonite shakes won’t pass. Kansas, you do not rule us all!

    — Hexin Hoosier 67

  • Mar 14, 2022

    Wait, what? Oh……now I sea…..

    — Linda Holloway

  • Feb 23, 2022

    So NOW I know what I’ve been doing wrong!!

    — Beano

  • Feb 22, 2022

    Finally!! Clear instructions on a task many of us find challenging. Many thanks!

    — Joan

  • Feb 21, 2022

    Very detailed instructions which is important for successful mug filling. Can’t wait for the zero gravity post. A future topic might be matching the mug with the contents you intend to pour into it – indubitably!

    — CG Phillips

  • Feb 21, 2022

    Please make t-shirts utilyzing these wonderful mug shots, especially the final one. I do so love it!

    — Betty Shropshire

  • Feb 21, 2022

    I can see someone is putting their SixSigma Green Belt skills to good use!

    — PJ

  • Feb 21, 2022

    Great, clear illustrated instructions. Could you possibly add instructions on what to do once the mug is full?

    — Karen Dannenbaum

  • Feb 21, 2022

    I’m torn between two poles – grateful for a mirthful morning and angry because my smile lines just got deeper! Thank you for the invaluable lesson! (And great illustrations too!)

    — Posy

  • Feb 19, 2022

    I love this post! Glad you remembered to slip the word in there.

    — Catherine Witherell

  • Feb 19, 2022

    I really appreciate this blog! Following these instructions made my morning so much better! Thank you!
    P.S. Am looking forward to the shopping, cooking blog and the one I’m sure is to come: making a decision on what to put in your mug!

    — Ginnie

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Thank you. This was very helpful for me from the third planet of Altair. Our gravity is quite different. We do not have the concept of “full” because our resources are limited. I am afraid that if I stay here too long I will resemble a sphere.

    — Marie Listopad

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Wonderful! Thank you for this most excellent course on the theory of fillability.

    — Natalie

  • Feb 19, 2022

    But the explanation was indubitably accurate!!
    Will there be an explanation of how to walk with a filled mug?
    Many people seem to have troubles with this, especially when the mug is filled with beer or wine or other alcoholic substances.

    — Dana

  • Feb 19, 2022

    …very helpful information.

    — Lisa

  • Feb 19, 2022

    I found the accompanying images both delightful and quite helpful for instructional purposes. Thanks!

    — Deanna

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Glad I finally got around to reading your blog. It is indubitably the happiest thing I’ve read today – and the most useful. The pre-pouring step has often been challenging for me. So, Thanks -s

    — Sarah

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Not over filling the cup is key. I’ve overfilled my cups a few times, and I had to dump it all out in the sink, and start over.

    — Marie Sullivan

  • Feb 19, 2022

    I’ve overfilled my mug many times, plus sloshed many a time, knocked it over many times, and used instant coffe. Thank you for these tips. Indubitably..

    — M.

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Laughing so hard! Thank you for my morning laugher exercise this morning.

    I have definitely been practicing filling my Calamityware 20 ounce mug on a daily basis. My current favorite fill substance is MycoBrew Cocoa by Fungi Perfecti. Nothing like a little fungi to get the day going. Seems fitting for the Calamityware mug.

    — Maggie S

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Being from the burg myself, I’m sure you wrote gov. tech manuals for Westinghouse in a past life.

    — Carin Weichler

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Yes, 90% full!! Don’t give me a partial cup of coffee. My biggest pet peeve.

    — Sue

  • Feb 19, 2022

    Thank you so much! Great tips! I will put this on the refrigerator so we don’t forget. 👾👹👿🦖🦕

    — Susan

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