Monday, March 14, 2016

The K-cup Coffee Phenomenon

Like most everyone I know, I have a Keurig single server coffee maker on my kitchen counter top.  It’s a must have status symbol and if you have one of those old low tech Mr. Coffee makers, well… you are behind the times and frankly, need to bump up your game.

The Keurig can make a cup of coffee in less than a minute, providing you leave it on all the time. I’m not sure how much electricity it uses setting there on the counter 23 hours and 59 minutes while it waits for you to zip by and place a 70 cent “pod” in it’s mouth and press a button or two, but how much can it be? Maybe 30 cents worth and that makes that one little cup about a buck.

Well, I kept my Mr. Coffee pot for about 2 years and enjoyed 3-4 cups a day of my peculiar brew of Joe. For reasons that I complied with, but did not thoroughly understand, my bride found the apparatus as unnecessary and “taking up too much space.” It started in subtle “suggestions” to remove it, to a rock in my shoe. After about 50 times, I dropped the machine in the recycle bin and gave myself over to the dazzling one cup phenomenon that took its place.

I didn’t buy into the pod action right away though, because I had about 2 pounds of French Market coffee with chicory that I refused to toss in the trash. My answer to the high price of the pods was to use the little plastic pod and hand load my own grounds. This produced a mediocre cup of coffee with some overflow coffee grounds in my cup and the next two cups made after that – and I heard about this too.

I tried regrinding the store bought coffee grounds in the store to make them finer and this seemed to work better, but something was clearly not the same. I finally gave in and just started using the pods. 3 to 4 cups a day and one for my bride now ran the coffee bill up to somewhere around the price of a pound of coffee a day.

Now, it’s not like I can’t afford this, I can, but the idea of this in my way of thinking is just wasteful and wrong. I’m the kind of person who only runs a water faucet as long or short as I can. I know what its like to have to walk to a well or a canvas bag 2 blocks away to get potable water. I don’t like to waste our resources either and every time I use a pod, it goes in a landfill somewhere, versus sending the coffee grounds down the garbage disposal.

For a company that started in 1998, they have turned the coffee pot industry on its ear. A month or so ago, they sold out to an investor group for 14 billion dollars. How in the world did they invade every kitchen in just a little over 18 years? We are on our second machine and there’s no telling how many we’ll have before we hang up our cups.

What I am about to write may just shock you. Recently, I experienced a phenomenon which caused me to forsake the Keurig. My coffee consumption had dropped to just one cup a day and I am a firm believer in the necessity of drinking 3-4 cups a day to get the anti-oxidants my colon craves. I do not believe anything that claims coffee is bad for me; I’ve seen just the opposite and I am verifiably healthy according to my blood tests. Coffee just didn’t taste like I remember it and that is why I wasn’t drinking as much of it

I have a Comet-brand aluminum percolator that I take camping and I got it out. I stoked it with 4 scoops of my hybrid coffee grounds, placed the basket inside with the cover on top, and popped on the lid. Adjusting the flame to high and reaching over to the oven, I set the timer for 22 minutes.

22 minutes? Are you crazy? No. I’m retired, but there’s more to this than meets the eye and I proved this morning. After it makes the pot of Joe, you remove the basket and the coffee stays good for 24 hours. You can refrigerate it if you like and pop a cup in the nuke machine and it tastes great. It passed the test this morning when my bride drank a cup of yesterday’s coffee and said it was “good”.

Now coffee once again tastes good; I’m saving about 4 bucks a day, and once again I am getting my daily dose of anti-oxidants. Life is good and although the Keurig will continue to grace our counter top, I will only use it when time is of the essence or to show people that visit that I don’t still wear bell bottom pants and listen to my music on an 8-track player.


Anonymous said...

KN: Last year 9 billion Keurig K-cups ended up in landfills. I applaud you for using your Comet-brand aluminum percolator! Go Bert! You should be on KBB!

Gordon Little said...

Well said. There is a time and place for everything. When the time allows, it's hard to beat a good old cup of fire brewed percolator coffee..... but in a crunch, and given the uncountable numerous choices in flavors and strengths of coffee pods, it's hard to beat that Keurig at crunch time.

Call me silly, but I get such a kick out of browsing all the different brands and names of coffee on Amazon. Can you believe, they even have one called "Three Peckered Billy Goat"?

The times, they are a'changing!

Anonymous said...

Barbora Cole: Leo and I enjoyed your column. He can relate since he got a Keurig for Christmas. Our daughter and her husband gifted him with the machine and two big boxes of coffee. So far, he hasn't run out since he's the only coffee drinker.

Anonymous said...

Dandy Don Cunningham: And a very good one, it was. Good to have you back, Bert! Like I've told you, I anticipate reading your column every Friday morning.

Anonymous said...

Ed Wisenbaler: You hit the nail on the head. Real coffee is way better than Keurig.

Patrick Newman said...

Call me a dinosaur, but I refuse to drink the Keurig cool aid. I also recently blogged about coffee, and prefer my "old fashioned" way of brewing it with a drip machine. I don't see the point of brewing just one cup of coffee at a time, and I agree that more pods in a landfill don't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Deb Hearn: I believe if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The best coffee ever was in an old corning-ware peculator. Now I cold brew & keep in fridge. Make about once week overnight and reheat in microwave. Lower acid that way if you have a problem like acid reflux.

HoustonControl said...

Larry Houston: We use our Keurig because we tend to drink random cups of coffee throughout the day. I'd hate to make a whole pot, then pour 3/4 of it out. And I like the taste! My favorite is the Tully's French Roast.

We don't leave the thing on all day, just turn it on as needed. I timed it this morning and it took 55 seconds to go from stone cold to ready to brew. The cup of coffee took another minute. If you can't wait 2 minutes for a cup of coffee, you must be a millennial! Also, I usually buy from Amazon Prime and get mine for less than 50 cents per pod. The HEB Cafe Ole' variety pack big box is also about 47 cents per serving. YMMV.

Claus Valca said...

I'm going though the Kay-cup pains myself. About every 6 months I consider just how silly it is to be paying up to $7.99 for a small box of coffee pods that might just last the week and decide to rage against the machine.

Protests in our home range from letting the wife hide the machine's stock pod holder so I have to use the one where I can put my own coffee grounds in. Upside = cheap bulk ground coffee that might last a month or more. Downside is cleaning that home-brew pod unit out each time after use & slightly gritty coffee as I don't use the type with the paper filter insert. Then there is the fantastic French-press unit my daughter gave me. Great coffee but I usually don't drink four cups at once as I end up getting a bit crazy productive with that much at once (I'm a 2-cup limit guy).

Currently the best solution is to turn a bit British and switch over to strong black tea. I like the jolt of caffeine provides and while I prefer loose leaf tea brewing, I don't have the time or patience in the morning. The local Kroger's store carries a Bigelow "American Breakfast" black tea blend that has almost the same caffeine level as coffee. However it seems to be a bit more bitter than I prefer my tea. I also like the Twinnings Irish Breakfast tea. It has almost the same kick but not quite the bitterness level.

Best thing about either of these that I get a box of 20 bags for just $3. that almost lasts a month and is < 1/2 the price of a box of k-pods that will last just over a week. seems more civilized.

And to avoid the guilt of not using the awesome K-machine that was gifted to me by loving family members, I can still use it brew the hot water for the tea bag. Nice balance.

Cheers! Claus V.

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