What’s With Them K-Cups?

Keurig K-Cup machineThe premise is tantalizing — a hot, fresh single cup of coffee every time you press a button. No cleaning porta filters, no disposing messy coffee/espresso grounds, no hassles with espresso pumps and steam nozzles. And the machine doesn’t look half bad. Just lift the latch, pop in a special K-cup, lower the latch and press the appropriate button. In about a minute you have a single steaming cup of coffee (or tea or hot cocoa). Especially in an office, this is as far away from the usual sludge as you can get without a pump espresso.

So how does it work?

The machine works with special K-cups — double-walled, self-contained coffee containers that have a filter built in. The coffee rests inside the filter. If you hold a K-cup up to the light you’ll see the filter ends about halfway into the outer plastic cup. When you place the K-cup in the machine and close the lid, a fat hypodermic pierces the top foil of the K-cup and lets in just enough pressurized hot water to fill the whole cup. The coffee brews, and is released by another needle down below that pierces the bottom of the cup. The process repeats for a few more cycles till the required volume is dispensed.

What’s Good?

  • The coffee is ground, but is sealed inside the K-cup till brewing time. There is no air exposure unlike coffee pods. This also makes storage easier.
  • When done, just toss the spent K-cup. No muss, no fuss, no filters to handle.
  • A very large variety of K-cup blends already available from a variety of sources. Keurig also runs a coffee delivery program for offices and homes.
  • Since you’re brewing one cup at a time, there’s no waste compared to standard drip coffeemakers.

Where’s the Catch?

This is a classic razor-and-blade situation. You can only use K-cups in your somewhat expensive Keurig brewer.

  • Keurig sells you one of these machines for $99 and way up, and provides you with a taste assortment of K-cups to get you started. Thereafter, K-cups average to about 50 cents apiece, less if you buy in bulk. So if you’re looking to save money on coffee, K-cups may seem a little pricey.
  • K-cups are not biodegradable — yet. Every cup you toss presents a recycling dilemma since it has (a) coffee, (b) paper filter, and (c) plastic in it.
  • The coffee tastes good, but isn’t nearly as fresh as good quality freshly ground coffee.

Bottom Line

Great convenience if you can devote the money, but limits you to only prepackaged commercially available coffee and tea selections.

Have/use a Keurig brewer? Let’s hear about it!

One Response to “ “What’s With Them K-Cups?”

  1. ChicagoJett says:

    I enjoy my Keurig and save money by using one of the refillable filters you can buy. I ground my beans, pack as much or as little coffee as I want, then hit the button and go. It takes some of the spontaneity out of the process but it shaves the per cup cost down to the 12-18 cents range.

    Love the blog!