Ok. I’m going to go out on a limb here. If you are a K Cup user, please don’t stop reading if you come across something that upsets you. That’s not the goal. The goal is to provide some information about K Cups, and why they are not only incredibly bad for the environment, but how I think I can show you why it’s not very fresh coffee. And I might add something about the high cost of using them as well. Just in case you weren’t already convinced how bad they are.
I’ll begin with what I think I can actually show you about how K Cups are not even remotely close to being fresh roasted coffee. The picture of the bag is one of my 2 oz stocking stuffers that we offer for the Christmas season. The reason it is all puffy like a pillow is that after roasting, coffee has gas. Yes, gas. CO2 gas actually. It’s part of a number of reactions that take place as a result of the roasting process. And the CO2 helps protect the coffee from it’s number one enemy, air. As the coffee degasses, the CO2 pushes air away from the beans to help keep them fresh. However, this process doesn’t go on for ever. Depending on what you read, coffee can degas for up to 30 days, but the process is much more effective at preserving freshness for the first 15-20 days. Which is when the coffee is at it’s peak freshness and best flavor. Once it’s done degassing, it’s losing flavor quickly.
So, how does that relate to the pillow picture. Imagine if the coffee in your Kcup was fresh roasted. You would think that the packaging would blow up like a pillow as well. Sadly, it doesn’t. Because the coffee is so old it has no gas left to protect it from going stale. But it does have other “stuff” added to help it smell like coffee. Which is a whole other chemical reaction discussion. In case you were wondering why coffee bags don’t blow up like a pillow, it’s because they have a valve in them that allows the CO2 to escape but keep oxygen out.
As for the environmental impact, that’s a whole other very troubling story. It’s estimated that in 2013, enough Kcups went into landfills to circle the equator 10.5 times. How many is that, you ask? Approximately 966 million pounds of waste. In 2013 alone, 8.3 billion Kcups were produced. And they are not recyclable, or compostable. So you use them and throw them away. Or, if they don’t sell, they are disposed of in the local landfill. The plan is to make them more environmentally friendly by 2020. If you do the math, without accounting for increasing sales, that’s over 40 billion more produced and ending up in landfills somewhere, (and as you can see by my math, that’s a conservative number) So the question I ask is, is the convenience worth the overall impact. For me, it is not.
And finally, on a simple money note. I sell fresh roasted coffee from around the world for between $14 and $25 per lb, depending on where it is from and it’s availability. Other coffees sell for more, but I top out at around $40 per lb for the Jamaica Blue Mountain premium coffee that I bring in periodically. And this is for top quality, fresh roasted coffee that I purchase, roast, bag and hand deliver myself. If you went out and bought a package of Folgers (yes, I said Folgers) K cups, you would be paying over $50 per lb for a coffee you have no idea where it is from, how it was processed or roasted, and if anything was added to it. (Chances are good something was!)
So, you as the consumer get to decide. Is the convenience of the K cup system worth the environmental impact? Is it worth paying $50 per pound for low quality coffee that you know nothing about?
And finally, here’s a link to a video that was produced in 2014 about the world takeover by K cups. It’s a fun watch. Some adult language (even I was surprised).