The untold truth of Keurig

One undeniable truth about people is that as a whole, we love coffee. Many of us rely on the stuff to get going in the morning, to fight post-lunch nap cravings, or as an accessory to dessert and conversation at the end of a dinner party — coffee is king for us. 

Not all coffee is created equally, though. Keurig is taking the coffee world on with convenience and disposable cups as their weapon. Keurig's parent company sold $11 billion worth of its product last year, and is currently the 7th largest food and beverage company in the United States (via Keurig).

Their brand has obviously gained some fans, but many are saying that Keurig might not be as wonderful as we may think. Environmentalists are warning that the waste from K-cups is contributing greatly to the excess of trash that's already plaguing our planet. A Berkeley environmental group claims, "The amount of K-Cups that have been trashed in landfills could wrap around the planet 10 times" (via The Story of Stuff).

Keurig's environmental impact

That's a pretty shocking amount of waste being created in the name of convenience. Apparently, dumping some coffee grounds in a coffee maker and waiting five minutes is too inconvenient for us. However, Keurig is responding to their environmental impact. The company claims that recycling is a big deal to them, so they plan to have all of their pods switched to recyclable materials by the end of 2020 (via Keurig).

So Keurig is trying to make their footprint smaller, but how well does the coffee hold its own in the flavor department when compared to traditional brewing methods? By design, Keurig pods are filled with pre-ground coffee which limits the possibilities for a fresh flavor in a cup from their machine. It will be difficult for the K-cups to ever taste quite as fresh and delicious as a traditionally brewed cup of coffee made from freshly-ground beans. While the machine is convenient and quick, it seems as though it's achieved by sacrificing the planet as well as the flavor complex in each Keurig cup of Joe (via Business Insider).

Keurig is more expensive than you might think

Alright, so it's at least cheaper than brewing a pot of coffee right? Actually, it might not be. When you do the math, K-cup coffee costs about $50 per pound on average, and most high-end 1-pound bags of beans from artisan roasters are under $20. The average American drinks a little more than two cups of coffee a day so a coffee consumer who goes with a coffee pot method would spend about $190 per year on their caffeine fix — but the Keurig consumer is looking at a bill closer to $800 a year (via Business Insider).

So, it's looking like Keurig currently isn't very cheap, environmentally friendly, or tasty — but it is convenient, as it takes anywhere from six to 12 minutes to brew a pot of coffee (via Top Off My Coffee). A cup of joe from a handy-dandy Keurig is ready in under a minute so it cuts the prep time substantially (via Keurig).

If a quick fix of caffeine is the only thing your after, Keurig's for you. As for the rest of us, traditional home brewing methods may make a bit more sense.