photo credit: Andres Nieto Porras/CC BY 2.0
by Lloyd Alter - Design / Sustainable Product Design
We never tire of complaining about single serve coffee pods that are claimed to be "recyclable" but are just a waste of aluminum and plastic, and are piling up in landfills across America. That is the environmental cost, but Smart Planet notes that there is a real financial cost too. The price of convenience of the pod coffee is as much as fifty dollars a pound. The New York Times did the math:
For example, the Nespresso Arpeggio costs $5.70 for 10 espresso capsules, while the Folgers Black Silk blend for a K-Cup brewed-coffee machine is $10.69 for 12 pods. But that Nespresso capsule contains 5 grams of coffee, so it costs about $51 a pound. And the Folgers, with 8 grams per capsule, works out to more than $50 a pound. That’s even more expensive than all but the priciest coffees sold by artisanal roasters, the stuff of coffee snobs.
Cheap coffee can be found for about eight bucks a pound; the Fair Trade shade grown stuff I buy is about sixteen bucks. Paying over three times that is just ridiculous. But apparently people under 40 don't notice because they think about coffee pricing differently than their parents; from Oliver Strand's article in the Times:
“Americans under the age of 40 are thinking about coffee pricing in cups,” said Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. “If you asked my mother how much coffee cost, she would have told you that the red can was $5.25 a pound and the blue can was $4.25. If you ask people in their 20s and 30s, they’ll say coffee is $1.75 to $3.75 a cup.”
Next to Tasmanian ice cubes, coffee pods are about the most wasteful product I can think of, costing four times as much to make lousy coffee. Yet their sales are growing like mad, almost doubling in the last year to 7% of all the coffee made in America. Go figure.