Even something as ancient as coffee is getting a reboot. It’s been 15 years since the Keurig company came up with a product that transformed the current world of coffee consumption, but not for the better.
If you’ve never heard of the K-cup, then you’re probably one of the lucky ones who’s yet to be fooled by their convenient, but harmful product. The K cup is part of a convenient coffee machine that allows only for one cup to be brewed at a time. All you have to do is stick the cup in the compartment of the Keurig machine, then a hole is automatically made at the top and bottom of the cup, where hot water is then forced through the grounds and a filter inside the cup.
K cups so good you’ll never get rid of them?
Imagine drinking a K-cup everyday. Now, imagine a pile of 365 of those cups piled somewhere. That’s just the waste coming from ONE person, for one year, if they stick to just one brew a day. CNBC reported that K cups were filling up landfills, which is due to their manufacturing, since they contain various materials that are hard to sort through. The fact is that due to these various materials used in one K cup, they are not recyclable, nor are they degradable. The plastic used in K cups is #7, which is a mix of plastics, making it hard to be recycled. The other components of the cup include a filter and foil, all fused together. We are already starting to ban plastic bags in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland due their negative environmental impact. It only makes sense to spread the ban to other wasteful plastic products as well. One of the great things about coffee is that its waste can be used in composting. However, K cups don’t allow for the grounds to taken out easily, since the cups are too small, and the grounds are basically trapped inside.
Cheap and easy?
Unlike coffee packages where you usually get about 30 cups of coffee per 1lb bag, the K cups are individually wrapped. For a 1lb equivalent, the K cups would come out to $50. So now there’s an issue with not only environmental waste, but also money wasted. Since most people see the cost per cup when comparing, one cup brewed at home from a great roaster like Intelligentsia or Handsome Coffee, costs about $0.66 cents per cup, while K-cup brewed coffee costs $0.65 per cup. It would be even cheaper to buy from other roasters. Another factor to look at when comparing costs, is the price of the equipment used to brew your cup of morning joe. With the K cup, you need to buy their Keurig machine, which will leave a dent in your wallet of around $80-$200. It’s not a good buy when you realize that the K cup only has one function, while other coffee brewing systems are much more diverse and will cost less. A traditional drip coffee maker will cost less than $20, while there other brewing systems like the Chemex, Aeropress, french press, etc. These systems are not only cheaper, but they also produce a better quality coffee drink.
With K cups Quality isn’t first
Think about the K cup and how long the coffee inside that pod has been sitting there. Not only is the freshness compromised, but all K cups contain pre-ground coffee. So, instead of being able to grind your own beans so that you get the best quality cup of coffee worth your money, you’re stuck with sub par coffee that hasn’t even been properly extracted. All Keurig machines are set at dispensing water at 192 degrees F, while the National Coffee Association states a range between 195-205 degrees F to be the optimal temperature for a good cup.
Another factor to look at when considering these methods, is that there are only so many varieties to try with K cups. There are only a few companies that have partnered with the Keurig company to make the K cup product (Green Mountain Coffee and Starbucks), so you are really only going to get a limited experience.
I know that the main reason people purchase these single-serving pod machines is convenience. How long will it be until we don’t care about taste, quality, and variety? Not to mention, the environmental factors that come into play as well. If it’s something that is part of your everyday routine, don’t these things matter? Let us know your thoughts.