Prices are out of control these days.
Gasoline continues to flirt with all time highs, that 50 cent candy bar now costs a dollar, and the charge for a gallon of milk makes you think there’s gold in them there utters. And coffee is no exception. The price for a pound of bulk roasted beans is well over 10 dollars at this writing (that’s the cheap stuff) and the the more you process the coffee, the more expensive it becomes. Ground coffee costs more … oh, it might have the same price as a pound of bulk beans, but didja notice that its only 14 ounces of coffee, not a full pound? Uh-huh. And the slow rise doesn’t stop there. Instant coffee is really steep in price, with those pre-packaged paper “pods” not too far behind. Any coffee that requires grinding, forming, freeze-drying, ice-crystalling, bagging or boxing adds more pesos to the pound. And the creation of K-cups are no exception.
If you’ve got the feeling that those little plastic cups are expensive, you’d be right.
I’ve not actually put it on a scale or measure, but I think most coffee K-cups hold about a tablespoon to 1-1/2 tablespoons of coffee. Maybe about 14 grams by weight. Right now, I can get a 24 cup package of Caribou Blend for 16.99, or about .67 cents a cup. That means you’re dropping 67 cents for 14 grams of ground coffee. There’s 454 grams in a pound. Do some loose math and you’ll see you’re buying coffee at about the cost of 21 dollars a pound. Sure there’s the cup and the filter inside and the manufacturing cost, but still … you’re spending 21 dollars a POUND on coffee this way. That’s pretty steep. And beyond that, there’s the MORALITY of the K-cup versus Mother Earth.
Imagine a world that, when viewed from the cold, vast, emptiness of space seems to be nothing but a wide ocean of heaving gray and black. No land, no animals, simply little gray dots upon more gray dots, falling and rolling over one another. That is the future of earth if this K-Cup thing goes unchecked. Humanity will drown in plastic, lose its way in punctured foil. Billions upon billions of used K-Cups will overflow from the landfills like wrathful vengeance from heaven. And man will be snuffed out under an avalanche of little plastic cups with a hole in the bottom. Ugly picture, but one that is coming if we don’t find a better, more earth friendly way to conserve the resources our Keurig’s consume. And that brings us to the topic of this entry:
Save the mama, save your wallet: roll your own K-Cups!
There are several ways to get this done. Here are but a few:
First, Keurig has the “My K-Cup” system that you can buy for about 16 dollars at the time of this writing. It replaces the snap out cup holster in your machine, holds a mesh and plastic basket and has a screw on top that mimics the hole punctured in the foil. I’ll talk about the “My K-Cup” in a coming post, but a quick “pro” is you can isolate strongly flavored coffees (think hazelnut or holiday blends) from contaminating other coffees you make afterwords. A “con” is you have to snap in and out some parts to make the thing work.
Then there’s the ekobrew Cup, a direct replacement for the disposable K-cup. No special holster, it behaves and handles like a regular little cup. It has a permanent cup with an attached lid and wires mesh sides. About 10 dollars, but they’ve been spotted on ebay for much less. The upside is it requires no holster change, so its easy. The downside is it tends to coat the holster in fine grounds and requires a “blank shot” of water to rinse the system.
There’s the EZ-Cup, a truly roll-your-own K-cup that has disposable paper filters inserted into a solid, non-disposable plastic housing. About 14 dollars and you have to keep a supply of these little tiny paper filters. I haven’t used them, so it will have to wait for my full review. The itty-bitty paper filter does seem to be a hassle, but we’ll wait and see.
For the real recyclers among us, there’s the Kaps for K-Cups, which allow you to reuse the cup and built in filter by giving you a snap on cap that is snapped on once the punctured foil is pulled away. They even give you a little brush so you can brush the old grounds out of the filter! Yum! 3 Kaps for 10 dollars.
I have tried the Keurig and the ekobrew cups. I have plans to at least try as many alternative forms of “cups” as I can stand. But I get the impression that the the first two are the most popular, so I’ll be putting together my review of these little reusables in the next few days. They all should technically save the earth from ecological destruction and stretch your coffee-addiction dollar to the max. But how do they work, and more importantly, how do they TASTE?
I’ll let you know.