American Coffee Market Overrun By Pod People

When you make coffee in the morning, do you go for an intense, foodie-like sensory experience, or do you look for the quickest and easiest way to get caffeine into your digestive tract? More and more Americans are turning to pre-filled coffee cartridges for their caffeination needs.

It’s not like cartridges provide terrible coffee. It’s not a gourmet experience, but it’s not bad. “Unless you’re going to a well-trained barista you risk getting your coffee brewed incorrectly anyway,” a coffee consultant (which is an actual profession) pointed out to Marketwatch.

On the one hand, cartridges can get expensive and clog landfills: there are no recyclable options on the market yet. One place they’ve caught on outside of the home are places like offices, waiting rooms, and even apartment buildings. They do eliminate the ever-present office coffee machine problems of disagreements over who made the last pot, the best coffee strength, and the waste of tossing out cold leftovers. At fifty cents to a dollar per cup, is that worth it?

More than a third of American adults now have single-cup coffee makers like the Keurig, Nespresso, or Tassimo systems in their homes. Old-fashioned roasted coffee is now only 52% of the home coffee market.

Sales of single-serve coffee have tripled since 2011 [Marketwatch]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    It would be wasteful to buy a seal pod for each cup. They make reusable pods that you fill yourself. I thought that is what most people used.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      Most of my friends tried the reusable pods and decided it was too much effort. They went back to sealed.

      I think Keurig coffee tastes terrible anyhow and I usually just make two cups of regular coffee in the morning in my single person machine.

      • CommonC3nts says:

        They thought filling up a little pouch was too much trouble???
        Before the pods I can only imagine their coffee pot had green slim on it as they never washed it.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      That’s the main reason I haven’t gotten a Keurig, they add a lot of unnecessary trash to the landfill. The reusable pods look like they might be a hassle to clean, and I have heard some leak. Right now I just use one of these at work, and “cleanup” means dumping the grounds and filter in the compost bin. :)

  2. radioone says:

    I drink more coffee than I ever did now that we have a Keurig, I was never a drinker of hot coffee at all. But sometimes, I’d like a cup; but I don’t want to make a whole pot. The pod machines are perfect for this.

  3. Saelia says:

    I have a Nespresso machine. I only drink a cup a day, and I’m too lazy to deal with cleaning up afterward if I use a french press or other method. It costs more than making it with regular coffee, but less than going to Starbucks, which is what I ended up doing most mornings before I got the machine.

    Nespresso does recycle their pods, but you have to bring them into one of their participating retailers. I usually hold on to them and bring them by the mall once every few months. I don’t think it’s well publicized though.

  4. C0Y0TY says:

    I use an EkoBrew refillable K-cup, and don’t think it’s too much work. But then I like grinding the beans on my own and having much better coffee than the prepacks.

    There ARE biodegradable pods on the market. San Francisco Bay, for one. Other companies are adopting SFB’s technology for their products.

  5. ChicagoGeek84 says:

    Actually, the new keurig cups (vue cups) are partly recyclable

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Oooh, I really want one, since the main reason I never got a K-cup machine was the recycling issue….but $1 a cup? >:|

  6. mzmoose says:

    I have an older Senseo, which uses actual pods. The pods are made of some cloth material and are completely recyclable – as a matter of fact, they break down pretty dang quickly just in the garbage can!

    However finding pods has become harder. You can no longer find them in the grocery stores, I can only find them online. Everything is k-cup, k-cup, k-cup, and there are fewer companies making the Senseo-fitting pods. I may have to break down and get a Keurig.

  7. BikerGeek79 says:

    Some house-brand K cups are made with a sort of gauze filter material instead of the plastic shell, so in theory they’re recyclable. I believe Safeway at least uses this style of cups.

    People try to dis the K cup. Personal tastes aside, I like them. We buy Tim Horton’s and have them shipped. They’re not cheap but I’ll get to that in a minute. The coffee tastes identical to the Tim’s I make in my coffee maker from grind. Perhaps the people who complain about the taste are stuck drinking Newman’s Own or Green Mountain swill. In that case my heart goes out to you. If you’re in the mid-atlantic US, and you’re not buying Wawa K-Cups, you’re doing it wrong.

    On Price: Well, that’s a combination of factors. One of them being the actual exchange of money for product. But another is the cost in time and resources. It costs more in electricity to heat a whole pot of coffee versus the 8-12oz for a K cup. It costs time and energy assembling the coffee grounds and filter, and cleaning them up afterwards. I haven’t done the math, but personally, my time is worth more to me than whatever differential savings there might be between brewed grounds and a K cup.

  8. OliverPickles says:

    I don’t drink a lot of coffee at home during the week, so my Keurig is perfect. On the weekends though, we haul out the old Mr Coffee and brew up a few pots. The k-cups do cost more, but the convenience is worth it. I am disturbed that they are not recyclable though, that needs to change.

  9. 12AngryPies says:

    Am I the only one who uses an Aeropress? Cheap, easy to use, easy to clean, and no endless plastic waste!