A Cuppa … What?

imageI’m not sure I’m so crazy this time. I just went shopping because I needed a new coffeemaker. Have you shopped for one lately? The market seems to be about half and half right now between drip and Keurig style. And about half the drip makers are higher end.  In fact, the coffee aisle seems to share that same division.

Okay, here’s a secret about me … I used to sell high end coffee. I really did. I was a barista too. It taught me that coffee can be an expensive pursuit but in the long run it doesn’t matter much. A good clean pot with some decent mainstream coffee can do just fine. Believe me. It can. Don’t get me wrong, I like really good coffee but I do just fine with standard coffee most of the time. Those expensive drinks? That is what they are, expensive drinks. Most are also calorie bombs. Splurge, if you want, but let’s get down to brass tacks … when y ou want coffee, what you really NEED  is some caffeine.  That’s why I like to go regular and if you are interested in saving money, all the better. What we all seem to need in the long run is convenience and CAFFEINE.

Okay, to clarify, I was shopping for a new drip-style. We still have a Keurig we got a couple of years ago. It makes great coffee. I also have one of those little single cup jobs to fill with my own coffee … it makes good coffee although I don’t think it is better than a good pot of drip.  But most people love the pods.  They are convenient, and the coffeemaker is fast. It should be, since a low end Keurig  costs as much as a high end drip coffeemaker.

But the coffee is gonna cost you.    Okay, I bought a big container of loose coffee that “says” 240 cups. Those are five ounce cups (another measurement that should go out the window IMHO). So figure 120 real cups of coffee (your mileage may vary). Divide that by 18 – most boxes contain 18 pods (but some boxes in the grocery stores carry 12 or even 10 – best to check what you buy, it will increase the resulting calculation). That gives us 6.667 boxes of Keurig style coffee. The “240 cup” container cost me $6.99 on sale. Boxes of 18 cup pods usually cost $9 to $13 so for theoretical purposes, let’s say $10.  Use some simple math:  for the same number of cups you are spending $66.67!

I shop around for pods and the absolute best price for them I’ve found is about 34 cents each, and that is if you are lucky … most standard brands hover around the 50-60 cent per cup mark. That same coffee I make with the drip maker comes out to 17 cents a cup. I figure using that same coffee in the little reusable pod is just a little more … using maybe one or two cents added, so that does save some money. But some of those are a pain to clean so right away, to save a little money, and you lose the convenience factor.

People used to do a major freak out if coffee went up at the store. That’s why you almost can’t buy a pound anymore … In the seventies manufacturers started skimping the size to reduce the sticker shock. They started by going down to 14 oz. Then the wholesale price of coffee went up again and they dropped it to 13oz. Now, that “formerly known as a pound of coffee” container is 11.5 oz. Sometimes 10.5!  I’m pretty sure that in the 1970s that 240 cup container was a  THREE pound container!  Now it is about a pound and a half.
So I would love to ask the manufacturers, why keep reducing the sizes if people are willing to shell out almost seventy bucks for seven bucks worth of coffee?  I propose the following promotion:  NEW, we now sell coffee in one pound cans?  Hey, we could make Coffee Can bread and cakes again.
I know, some people will say they prefer the pods because they want a choice, they want variety. Having sold gourmet coffee I say BEANS to that.  In my experience, ultimately most people tend to find something they like and stick with it.

One last word about convenience … it is all in your perception. Yeah, rinsing the pot and making a fresh pot takes a little effort. Usually one or two minutes. After that, the next several cups are MORE CONVENIENT than any Keurig. Just point and pour.

I did see one lonely percolator on the shelf when I was shopping. When I was a kid, THAT was pretty much your home option. You know what? Don’t let anybody fool you … they still make good coffee.  My mother still uses one and when I went to stay with them when my dad was still alive … gotta admit that first morning, the coffee was pretty awful. I took a look in the pot and it was disgusting … well, I’m not blaming them, they both are legally blind. I cleaned the heck out of that pot. Next batch: good coffee. Scratch that. Great coffee.
That’s the key, get that old crappy coffee residue out of anything, including drip baskets, drip pots, or even the Keurig funnel. The worst thing people can do is just rinse out the drip pot and use that to refill the reservoir.  All that yucky burned oil residue gets recycled into the innards of the machine.  Blech.  Use something else to pour your water.

Hey, I haven’t even touched on the issue of waste but I will say this: the next time you hear someone complaining about rising costs or the dangers of environmental disasters … ask to see a picture of their coffeemaker.  That will tell you something about the value of their viewpoints.

(A note on the picture … it just one I happened to have in my gallery.  You want gourmet coffee in 1880’s Houston?  I think that was your place.  Likely it was, uh, er, just coffee, but you can bet it was freshly roasted.  That was from an ad in a vintage Houston cookbook I reviewed a while back)




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