A little while ago I had an encounter with a K-Cup machine in a waiting room. It was pretty snazzy, I had to admit: it made me a delicious cup of coffee in just a few minutes, with no muss or fuss. Impressive! I began flirting with the idea of buying myself one. But I had to ask, how much do K-Cups really cost, versus making coffee "the regular way?"
The True Price of K-Cups: $51/lb!
Compared to $10-15 per pound of normal coffee!
For me, "the regular way" means buying coffee - usually Starbucks - either whole bean (which I grind myself in my burr grinder) or pre-ground from the grocery store.
(Speaking of costs, I am very price-conscious when it comes to these bags of ground Starbucks at the grocery store. The savvy shopper will note that the bags ARE NOT ONE POUND BAGS. Instead, they are 12 ounce bags. Be sure to compare the price per pound correctly! Unless they are on sale, it is always cheaper to buy a pound of coffee at a Starbucks café. They will grind it for you for free, if you like.)
I am willing to pay a certain amount of premium cost for added convenience. But I was shocked when I learned that the price of K-Cups amounts to $51 per pound of coffee! Even the extra-fancy coffee blends at Starbucks rarely cost more than $20 per pound, and that's for the limited edition and seasonal blends. Your average every day Espresso or Italian blend is usually around $12 per pound.
I can't bring myself to pay THAT much more for coffee!
This New York Times article makes the point that most younger coffee buyers these days are thinking about the per-cup price. If you are accustomed to paying $3.25 per cup of latte, then paying about $1 for a cup of K-Cup coffee is definitely a bargain. It probably saves you time, too, versus parking, waiting in line, and waiting to have your drink made.
However, there is an additional cost that the New York Times overlooks: the added waste of all those discarded K-Cups. They can't be recycled, and the coffee grounds inside them can't be composted. The last thing our planet needs is more plastic waste!
This is the extra cost overhead for me. I compost my coffee grounds. Whereas I live in a rural area and have to pay dump fees whenever I haul my trash to the dump. So if I went to K-Cups I would be paying an extra fee to dispose of the cups that I don't pay for coffee.
I think I will keep making coffee "the regular way" for now!