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.


  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 😉

    1. 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.

      1. 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???

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.)

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