I am a former barista who has encountered this phenomena many times, but could never consistently re-produce the effect.

1 Answer 1


Heavy cream should be lightly whipped, still in a somewhat pourable state. If it is over-whipped, it will have more of a tendency to sink.

The beverage should be at least slightly sweetened with white sugar or brown sugar. The dissolved sugar in the beverage will help to keep the cream afloat.

So, the problem could be over-whipped cream, no sugar, or both. Inconsistencies in either of those areas may be why your results varied.

Lastly, I have always been told that unwhipped or whipped heavy cream should be poured gently over the back of a warm spoon. That is supposed to ensure a gentle addition of the cream around the sides of the cup/glass that will make it float. (It's a useful technique for adding the cream.) I have seen many people do this, but I have always been successful without using a spoon.

  • 2
    Why would overwhipped cream sink? Surely it should be less dense with more air incorporated
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:36
  • @ChrisH I don't know the science behind it. This is what I was taught many years ago by several different bartenders when I was learning how to properly make Irish coffee. Researching online in more recent years, the information I've found agrees with this.
    – Cindy
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:44
  • @ChrisH You’re right. Whipped cream contains fat, which floats on water, and is whipped, having lots of air incorporated, which means it’s less dense than water. When people say it “sinks”, my guess is they’ve never actually seen it sitting there on the bottom, and in reality it has only melted. The only way for whipped cream to sink is for it to contain substances more dense than water, which seems unlikely. Even solid butter floats.
    – chharvey
    Commented Jan 15 at 0:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.