K-Cup Coffee Is Stupid

credit: Lloyd Alter

Individual pods of coffee are expensive, bad for the planet, and don't even taste good. Why does the madness go on?

I’m not here to regale you with the history of Keurig K-Cup coffee pods or bombard you with statistics about the plastic they waste. Other TreeHugger writers have already done that. They’ve even done actual research! (See related stories below.)

No, my children, I’m here just to gripe. Or really, I’m more confused than annoyed. I don’t understand why anyone would ever use those things.

“But they’re so quick,” people tell me. “And you don’t even need to clean anything.” To that I say, “Have you ever made coffee?” Because making regular coffee takes, like five minutes. At least, French pressed coffee does. I never did figure out how to use those contraptions that brew drip coffee; they’ve got too many parts considering that you’re just putting hot water on coffee grounds. But I digress.

And sure, you don’t have to clean the actual K-Cup (unless you want to recycle it, see photo above). But you still have to clean the machine. Which, again, just seems like a whole unnecessary thing. You know how you clean a French press? You rinse it. Soap it down for a minute if you’re feeling fancy. Man, I love French presses.

french press coffee

Don LaVange/CC BY 2.0

Now, these obvious flaws could be forgiven if you were getting some sort of superior coffee. But K-Cup coffee doesn’t actually taste good. I mean, sure. If you’re comparing it to instant coffee, or coffee that’s been sitting out all day, or lite beer (America, I love you, but your beer is embarrassing), then K-Cup coffee is fine. But it cannot hold its own to the regular stuff.

And after all that, the machines are expensive! Some go for over $200! And that’s before you pay for all the individually wrapped pods. But don’t take my word for it. In the words of the guy who actually invented K-cups: “I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use.”

Oh, and did I mention all the plastic? That stuff goes straight into landfills. I know I said I wasn’t going to do research, but I’m so stirred up (har har) at this point, I’m opening Google. I’m finding that the K-Cups in landfills could circle the globe over 10 times. And that stat is four years old.

You know what that K-Cup inventor said after he realized how much environmental damage his inventions were causing? “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.”

To make things even more annoying, the company keeps pretending to be green. They come out with "recyclable" versions that you may not actually be able to recycle. But even if you could, stop pretending a single use product is sustainable, Keurig. Just stop.