This Riddle Asking ‘Who Gets The Coffee First’ Is Leaving People Completely Stumped

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

If you love a good riddle, you probably consider yourself pretty clever.

Here at LittleThings, we love them all: brainteasers, riddles, optical illusions, and hidden messages.

A while ago, we wrote about this tricky chalkboard-sign riddle, and we’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for other good ones ever since.

The one I’m about to tell you doesn’t involve sneaky wordplay or hidden images. It’s actually a lot more straightforward than that.

All this puzzle involves is a single picture. The photo shows coffee being poured into a maze of pipes and containers. At the bottom of all the pipes, there are four coffee cups, labeled with numbers.

On November 9, 2017, Twitter user @_herbeautyxo shared the picture online, writing, “Let’s see who’s [sic] brain works [crying emoji]. who gets coffee first?”

Think you can figure out the answer? Keep scrolling to see if you’re really clever enough to outsmart this riddle!

coffee riddle

Here’s @herbeautyxo’s original tweet. As you can see, it got a lot of attention.

Within just a few days, the post had over 1,900 retweets, 4,400 likes, and 2,000 comments.

coffee puzzle

So let’s take a closer look at the puzzle itself.

Assuming you were to pour coffee into the first “bucket” at a constant rate, which cup would get coffee first?


One of the most common answers to the riddle is “4, 9, 7, 5.”

In fact, 529 people liked the comment that said that was the answer. But is it?

same time

Another popular answer was that they’d all get coffee at the exact same time. If that’s what you originally thought, you’re definitely not alone.

Unfortunately, that’s also not right.

annoyed face

If you’re getting frustrated, don’t worry, I promise I’ll tell you the answer at the end.

But just take one more look.

coffee answers

This time, really study the pipes. Take note of their locations and lengths.

Try to imagine a liquid pouring through the pipes. Where would it go first?

pay attention

If you’re still stumped, that’s OK.

Want a hint? What if I told you only one of the cups gets coffee?

coffee pour

Now that you know only one cup gets coffee, take a final look.

Think you know which cup it is?

cup 5

It’s cup 5!

You were paying so much attention to the way the pipes attach and turn that you didn’t notice that almost all the pipes are actually blocked.

coffee puzzle answer

There you have it!

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