I am a coffee lover. Everyone in my extended family knows that I start my day with a cup of coffee and enjoy more during the rest of the day. I am one of those people who drinks coffee, sometimes decaf and sometimes regular, in the evenings. Therefore, my mother-in-law though a great idea for a Christmas present would be a Keurig single serve coffee brewer.
In theory, this is a great idea. On demand coffee in an amount that is easily consumed before getting cold or stale. In reality, there are some definite drawbacks.
None of the drawbacks are with the machine or its use. The B-30 Mini is easy to use and it fits into my desk drawer at work so the compliance police do not hit me for having an unapproved electronic device. How come they never seem to tag the people with the small space heaters that turn our building into a sweltering mess in the winter? I digress. The brewer makes a decent cup of coffee and it takes little time or effort to keep the good times brewing.
All of the downsides relate to the K-Cups. These little plastic bullets of doom and fiscal irresponsibility haunt me.
First, you are paying for convenience. Beyond the dozen “sampler” K-Cups included with my machine—only eight of which I actually used because flavored coffees rank with Four Loko on the list of things I like to drink—I was forced to venture into the world of refills. For those of you unfamiliar with the razor business, let me reacquaint you through the K-Cup business model: Get the machine in the hands of people, even at a loss, and make a killing on the refills. If it works for Gillette, it will probably work for Green Mountain Coffee.
How expensive? An 18-pack of Newman’s Own Organic Special Blend K-Cups cost me about $10 at a local store. This works out to approximately $0.55 per serving. Currently, I spend about $9 on 12 ounces of locally roasted coffee beans that are organic, shade grown, and fair trade—one has to get all the buzz words when possible. To compare on an ounce for ounce basis, the box of 18 K-Cups has a net weight of In order compare on an ounce for ounce basis, the box of 18 K-Cups has a net weight of 7.3 ounces. Therefore, the K-Cups are more expensive purely in an ounce for ounce comparison and, I believe, come out further behind when considering just how much coffee I actually use per cup. Granted, I think I use less than recommended.
Second, the cups are wasteful. Here is my first day’s worth of K-Cups:
The commonly accepted practice is to brew a cup of coffee and throw out the used K-Cup when you brew the next cup. It’s the worst kind of disposable—single use! Green Mountain Coffee is obviously concerned about this fact because they try to tout the environmental record of the company on their website, annual report, and slick sheets but the fact remains that there money maker is a single use disposable. Sure, the foil top is recyclable. Here is a K-Cup deconstructed:
Heck, the coffee grounds are going to waste as well. I performed minor surgery on my used K-Cups to extract the grounds because that was just a little too wasteful and I was not that lazy. How many people would even go to that trouble.
Compare this with what I do at home. Most mornings I would take a vacuum bottle of coffee to the office made with a French press. The grounds get put in a container and used directly in my landscaping to increase the acidity of the soil for acid loving plants like blueberries. No filter is used because it is a French press. A little water and soap to wash it out is all that goes down the drain.
What is a guy to do? I like the convenience of the brewer, but I hate the waste…to the Internet!
Apparently, Keurig makes an insert for some models of their brewers, but it also makes a bad cup of coffee and can be messy to use. Big shocker. The company that makes their profit off the sale of disposable refills makes an inadequate reusable solution. The challenge I discovered trolling Amazon reviews was that my brewer—the B-30 Mini—was not compatible with many of the reusable cups on the market, which was disheartening since I liked the looks of the ekobrew Cup.
Enter the Solofill. From the reviews the product seemed to work well and at the rate the stock levels were going down there was obviously demand. So, I put a single Solofill cup into my cart and checked out. Okay, it’s Amazon so I had a couple of other things in my cart. The place is evil like that. The solution to my problem should arrive before the beginning of the next work week. A report will follow.