I Hate K-Cups

The insta-cup mania that has taken hold of the coffee world has finally convinced Starbucks to join the crowd. While Peet’s hasn’t succumbed just yet, how long can it be? There is no doubt that the idea of a quick, fresh one-cup shot of joe with no muss or fuss is appealing. You know what isn’t appealing though? The cup of coffee.

For me, it is possible to brew a passable cup if I use a dark roast and make the smallest cup the machine will allow, which often means using two capsules for a decent amount. But using a simple manual drip cup and ground coffee takes only a bit more time, and yields a much better product.

That is just part of my objection to the K-cupafication of America. Even when purchased wholesale, the cost of each capsule is at least 50 cents, and is often more than a buck.

I am not going to argue that a nine dollar pound of coffee is enough to make 100 cups of coffee in a coffee maker. Yes, often a few cups of each pot goes to waste, and the pot gets stale quickly sitting on a burner for a few hours, but it is still half the cost of the K cups.

But here’s more of a direct comparison. A 24 pack of Green Mountain Coffee costs about 15 dollars, but a pound of coffee will easily yield 40 strong two-tablespoon cups for nine dollars. And in the end, you toss biodegradable grounds and paper instead of a plastic cup.

Still, most of the people in my office who lobbied for the Keurig are perfectly happy with the coffee it brews and thrilled with the ability to choose a brew a cup at a time.  For me, though, a K cup is the MP3 file of coffee. Just like music that has been compressed, filtered and billed as a more compact but equivalent version of the original recording, in reality it is a trade-off of quality for convenience, and most listeners have no aural skills to tell the difference. Moreover, they have almost a contempt for people who bemoan the loss of quality, as if someone shouldn’t bother to improve the good-enough format.

I love the idea of the instant single cup coffee maker; there are some espresso machines that do a great job of delivering a single shot from a capsule. But is it too much to long for a Blu-ray equivalent of a K cup to come along?