OK. I confess. I own one of those one cup coffee makers that overload landfills and rob bank accounts. Here’s why: When I am snowed under with deadlines, pretending that my kitchen is an upscale coffee house lessens my stress.
In fact, I am not sure I could have made my book deadline last December without those quick, no-mess pre-packaged cuppa’s washing down microwave food and spurring me to the finish. Chances are, when my next deadline crunch comes, my kitchen may turn into an instant cafe again.
Still, unless I am pitted in a fight to the death with the clock, my pod eating coffee maker usually sits on the counter unused. I just can’t justify the waste of plastic or my cash using it every day. I’m not alone.
Even the inventor of the K-Cup thinks one cup coffee, tea, and hot chocolate pods are too expensive. In early March 2015, John Sylvan, inventor of the K-Cup, told Dr. James Hamblin, senior editor at The Atlantic, that he doesn’t own a pod coffee maker, thinks pre-packaged pods are too expensive, and wishes he never invented the landfill hogging K-cups. (Some estimates say that in 2014 enough Keurig pods landed in landfills to circle the globe more than 10 times. Add in pods from competitors, including Tassimo’s plastic T-discs or Nesspresso’s aluminum capsules, and an apocalypse in which we are buried in leftover coffee paraphernalia looks close at hand.)
That apocalypse won’t come cheap, either.
Just purchasing the coffee maker is likely to set you back more than $100. The lowest end models, using pre-packaged pods, normally retail for about $89.00, although you can find them on sale for as low as $63.00. But if you want a higher end pod coffee maker, be prepared to pay $200.00 to $300.00.
If you are cutting corners on costs, purchasing a one-cup electric coffee maker or French Press for about $25.00 instead of a pod coffee maker makes better financial sense. Want to go even cheaper? Purchase a one cup coffee dripper to hold over your cup for less than $10.00.
If you do decide that you want to put out the cash for a pod coffee maker, look for a model that allows you to use reusable or generic brand coffee pods. Otherwise, turning your kitchen into a gourmet coffee house could eat up your entire grocery budget.
Yesterday, I popped over to the grocery story to compare pricing between old style coffee and tea bags and the new-fangled pods. I found 100 bag boxes of tea averaging about $5.99; one pound coffee packages ranging from $3.99 to $13.99; and 10 serving boxes of instant hot chocolate for $4.99.
If you purchase pre-packaged beverage pods on sale for $7.99, you are looking at paying about $.57 cents for your perfect morning cuppa’. Compared with purchasing a daily coffee from your local restaurant drive through, which can set you back anywhere between $1.25 to $5.00 a cup, that’s a bargain. But, even if you are a moderate caffeinated beverage drinker who uses just $25.00 worth of pods – about 14 cups a week, if you purchase an economy package of T-discs – you will still spend $300.00 a year on caffeinated drinks. Most households will more than double that cost.
Fortunately, getting your gourmet cup of coffee or the perfect tea brew doesn’t have to mean filling up the land fill or robbing your wallet. Pressing a scoop of premium coffee in a 16 ounce coffee press will build a brew that’s at least as good as what comes out of pre-packaged pod using a similar quality of coffee. As for tea, you won’t get better flavour or value than steeping it in a crockery pot. Better yet, you’ll be able to afford a muffin to eat with it.
Jane Harris-Zsovan is the author of Eugenics and the Firewall: Why Alberta’s UFA/Social Credit Legacy Matters to 21st Century Canadians.