Single Serve Coffee’s High Price

Oliver Strand over at the New York Times has taken on the issue of the high price of single cup convenience.

This is not an issue about the price of coffee per pound in a bag versus in a K-Cup.  Why?  Because a person buying the K-Cup is buying convenience, not just the coffee.  It’s the same reason why a soda in a vending machine costs more than at the grocery store—convenience.  Sure, the vending machine has broken bulk for you, a fancy way of saying that you can get one bottle of soda versus a six pack or more, but the difference in cost is a direct result of the convenience of the vending machine.

The K-Cup does this for a coffee drinker.  Strand hits it on the head by asking the question of the user: is coffee something you make or something you drink?  Do you think about the price of coffee in terms of the ground beans in a bag or a piping hot cup from Starbucks?

Even if I was a person who thought about coffee purely in terms of cost per cup, would I find it acceptable that Folger’s was charging $50 a pound equivalent.  Huh?  $50 a pound for Folger’s?  The same Folger’s in the red can that was a prime reason I avoided drinking coffee until college when I realized it tasted like something besides burnt socks.

I own a Keurig brewer and I like the convenience for work because my workplace totally lacks decent options for coffee.  The cafeteria serves a brown liquid they claim is coffee, but I am convinced is some kind of burnt transmission fluid.  Facilities will tag you for having a coffee maker, but the Keurig seems to fit into some gray area because it does not have an exposed heating element or any glass pot to break.

At home?  No way.  When I am home, coffee is something that I make.  It is ritual.  Putting a little plastic cup into a machine and pressing a button takes away all of the romance of making coffee in the morning.  It would not taste as good.  Besides, there are no single origin 100% Hawaiian coffees available in K-Cups yet.  Once someone puts Kona or Ka’u coffee in a K-Cup I will be in trouble.

I guess that’s why I refill my own K-Cup substitute.

The one thing about K-Cups that kind of blows me away is that schawg coffee like Folger’s is being sold at a markup that would make cocaine dealers jealous.  Over $0.50 per K-Cup for Folger’s?  Really?  I do not even know if I can call Folger’s real coffee.  It’s brown, contains caffeine, has a vague coffee aroma, and is hot…


One response to “Single Serve Coffee’s High Price

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