The Cost of K-Cups

From The NY Times:

SOMETIMES it’s hard to tell how much coffee costs, even if you know what you spent. At least that’s the case with many of the single-serve brewing machines that are soaring in popularity.

For example, the Nespresso Arpeggio costs $5.70 for 10 espresso capsules, while the Folgers Black Silk blend for a K-Cup brewed-coffee machine is $10.69 for 12 pods. But that Nespresso capsule contains 5 grams of coffee, so it costs about $51 a pound. And the Folgers, with 8 grams per capsule, works out to more than $50 a pound.

That’s even more expensive than all but the priciest coffees sold by artisanal roasters, the stuff of coffee snobs.

An exclusive single-origin espresso like the Ethiopia, Gedeo Single Origin Espresso from Sightglass Coffee costs $19 for a 12-ounce bag, or about $25 a pound. La Cima beans for brewed coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Grand Cru selection grown at Finca el Injerto, a renowned farm in Guatemala, is $28.50 for a 12-ounce bag, or $38 a pound.

In fact, most high-end coffees cost less than $20 a pound, and the coffees you find on supermarket shelves are substantially cheaper. A bag of Dark Espresso Roast beans at Starbucks is $12.95 a pound, and a bag of Eight O’Clock beans for brewed coffee at the Food Emporium is $10.72 a pound.

  • FlamingAtheist

    Biggest problem I have with the K cup aside from this inflated cost is they are not recycleable. After all the years they haven’t come up with a solution they likely aren’t. I know they sell K cup filters that you can pack your own in, but that is just as fussy as me using my espresso maker to brew up a quick Americano.

    • JoeK

      They have, actually, and they’ll be available very soon.
      Go into a Bed Bath and Beyond (starting 7 days from today’s date), and you’ll see their latest model. The recycling issue has finally been addressed.

  • Team_Moral_Minority

    I guess I’m failing to see how the cost/pound is even relevant. So what if it worked out to be $100/pound. 12 pods still makes 12 cups
    12 pods @ $10.69 = 12 cups @ ~$0.90 each.

    I guess what I’m reading really tells me that I should be more wasteful and demand that my coffee is made with at least 32 grams of ground coffee in a K-cup, so the cost/pound would calculate to ~$12.50/pound. Making it with 8 grams doesn’t give me my moneys worth when I use a BS calculation to determine the cost of what I’m using. The cost is the end cost to the user….. $0.90 per cup

    I can only drive my Motorcycle 200 miles on a tank of gas. I can drive my Hummer 450 miles on a tank of gas. Obviously I’m spending way too much to fill the tank on my motorcycle and it’s more cost effective to drive a Hummer. Tank size and MPG are irrelevant.

    • Ben

      Cheap burr grinder (I have the Bodum Bistro): 80 bucks
      Cheap pump espresso machine: 150 bucks
      Awesome single source locally roasted beans: 25 bucks a pound

      Sure there is a bit of start up cost, but not much more than a k-cup machine.

      But: I use about 7 g per shot. There are 450 grams in a pound. That’s 64 cups of coffee, or about 40 cents per cup, and I can rock out a complete coffee drink, from grinding, packing, pulling, cleanup, and boiling a bit of water for my ristretto americano in less than two minutes.

      And considering I can find pretty damn good beans at the local Italian Center for around 12 bucks a pound, the cost is halved (most of the time really, I hardly ever splurge on the “good stuff”.

      The whole coffee-in-a-pod thing is just another shameless Nestle money grab.

  • PoliticalHack

    Anybody that has a coffee maker that uses k-cups knows that the per cup cost is relatively high for brewing at home. I could easily make a dozen pots of coffee using Starbucks coffee for the price of a dozen cups using the Starbucks k-cups. However, in the morning when I am at my laziest, popping one of the k-cups into the coffee maker, hitting one button, and getting the nirvanic brew is worth the extra cost.

    Sure, I could set a standard coffee maker to start at a specific time so that it is ready for me when I get into the kitchen, but then I have to
    – hope I do not take too long or else the brewed coffee may burn while sitting on the heated surface;
    – set the pot up each evening – not a big deal, but a bummer the morning following forgetful evenings;
    – clean the pot/maker each evening.

    But most importantly – it is my choice to use the k-cup method of making coffee. Yes – I am paying for the convenience, but it is worth it to me. The day I decide that convenience is too costly I’ll pull out my old coffee maker and go back to the old way.

    PS: To the makers of Jet Fuel, Black Tiger, Wake Up Call, and Starbucks Cafe Verona – thank you thank you thank you thank you.

  • Cornjob

    This whole Keurig thing is worse than crack cocaine!

    I don’t personally drink the stuff myself, but I bought Mrs. Cornjob one recently. My pantry is now overflowing with the darned things. I do all the cooking in our home and EACH AND EVERY TIME I open the pantry door, I’m bombarded by Ziploc bags filled with those little plastic cups of insanity. 😉

    • Rampage_Rick

      First world problem, my friend…

      I remember when I first saw the commercial for the Tassimo Brewbot. I was thoroughly disappointed that it didn’t transform into a robot in real life. I would have bought one despite the fact that I don’t drink coffee.

      • What you want is a wafflebot.

      • Rampage_Rick

        Oh yes! God yes! A thousand times yes!

        Although I might settle for a Portal gun

        And somehow Google associated me with Tassimo, so now I’m seeing suggestions for their product recall site:

      • Rampage_Rick

        Wanted to add that I saw a Keurig in the waiting room of my dentists office yesterday. Had all the K cups on a little wire carousel. How much are you inflating my bill to afford luxuries like that???

  • Grant

    I end up making less coffee with the K-cups over a traditional method. I used to make a pot of coffee every morning and actually finish it maybe 1 or 2 days a week. The rest of the week I would drink some portion less than that. I don’t make a K-cup unless I know I want to drink another cup.

    It is still more expensive obviously but it is convenient. The article also uses fairly expensive K-Cups. I buy them at Costco for closer to 45 cents each in packs of 80 rather than the close to 60 cents mentioned in the article. If i was a better online bargain hunter you can find them cheaper than that.

    You can also use reusable K-cups that you can load your own coffee into. Though that takes away most of the convenience factor.

    I also love it for making Cup of Noodles. It is perfect for making hot water in smallish amounts.

  • passerby

    Aside from instant coffee (bleagh) it’s the cheapest easiest way to have a cup of coffee in the morning.

  • clairedammit

    Am I the only person who uses one of these and a tea kettle when I want a single cup of coffee? Can you even get chicory coffee in those K-cup thingies?

  • dang

    From the title, I was worried this would be an exposé on the problems of extreme breast enhancement.

  • We have the Keurig and I always use the load your own. If I want a single cup, it’s still easier than firing up the last century coffee maker. I’m not sure what bothers me more about the pre-loaded cups, the price or the waste.

    • Piri

      mine always comes out weak. how do you fix that?

      • I get about 2 scoops of Gevalia Traditional Roast into the K-cup. Our model has three size choices. The middle size works well for my taste. You can always pull out early (if you know what I mean). If you grind your own, make it fine.

  • Bacopa

    What’s a K cup?

    • FlamingAtheist

      It is Chrysler and Lee Iococa’s attempt at budget coffee, start your day with Reliant K!

      I could be confusing decades and products though…

  • AVX

    Just yesterday I turned in an assignment on the Keurig coffee maker. The case study on that company is classic. The founders/inventors got screwed/fired and got nothing while the VC’s and Green Mountain swallowed the whole company.
    It was nice to see the comments on this thread.

  • LL

    My wife got one of these as a gift a few years ago. The only good thing I can say for it is that it’s convenient. The coffee is weak and expensive. Loading your own K-cup works Ok, but takes as much effort as just making a cup of espesso, or using the AeroPress.

  • Julia S.

    All the Kcup and pouch systems taste like crap to me. They are only “convenient” – I love my Mr. Coffee. I love my teapot. I love my leftovers – the coffee I make into coffee milk and keep it in the fridge (yum yum) and the tea becomes iced tea. By the end of the day I am a caffienated crazy biotch but MAN I am SAVING the ENVIRONMENT (twitch twitch twitch) 😉
    Honestly I just can’t bring myself to buy one though everyone I know has one. You’ve all helped me justify buying the good stuff though! Thanks a bunch!

  • covenofovens

    This is why I ditched coffee years ago. 5 tea bags in an insulated 26oz mug with honey and milk means that I have something to sip on all day (a tip I learned from Chinese taxi drivers). Hot tea when it is cold, iced in the heat. BTW 5 tea bags costs me $0.25 ($0.60 when I really want to splurge.)