quoted from and originally published in the Toronto Star April 20, 2004

Everyday inventors
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that every person 'is or should be an inventor'

RACHEL ROSS

A cool, Clever Cup for hot drinks

Coffee lovers know the hot-hand dance. Perhaps not by name, but they've probably done it before.

Wrapped around a fresh cup of coffee, fingers dance to avoid constant contact with the incredibly hot disposable paper cup. Sometimes this results in an unfortunate spill of the beverage, right into an unsuspecting lap. Even with a paper sleeve, the heat can get you especially when the sleeve slips and you wind up grabbing the exposed cup by accident.

But "Customers should expect safety with their coffee and tea," believes Toronto inventor Conrad Martin.

Martin's Clever Cup provides safety using clever engineering. The surface of his cup is convoluted: the paper is bent back and forth creating a series of pleats and folds. The hand only touches the outer edge of those folds, making the cup cool to the touch, even with a boiling hot beverage inside.

He demonstrates by boiling up water in a kitchen kettle. He pours some into a standard Tim Horton's cup and some of it into his prototype.

The Tim Horton's cup can be held only for a second or two before the fingers feel the sharp burning sensation. The outside of the Clever Cup barely gets warm.

Martin estimates the cost is roughly the same as for the typical cups now used about eight cents each. Retailers pay up to 5 cents more for an insulating sleeve, he says, so the inventor thinks Clever Cup offers potentially significant savings. Moreover, the Clever Cup, he said, uses approximately the same amount of paper as a cup plus a sleeve. So there's no added environmental impact.

Martin said he's still in the early stages of acquiring venture capital and is hopeful he'll be able to strike a licensing agreement with a major coffee chain.

As with all inventions, the Clever Cup does have some hurdles to overcome. Companies, Martin said, aren't keen on having their logo folded up on the cup. Martin said he questions their priorities.

"What is more important: the look of the brand or public safety?"

**For the original article in its entirety click here


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