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"Keurig" is Dutch for "Lazy" - Mark's Journal
"Keurig" is Dutch for "Lazy"
A couple of weeks ago, CIT's facilities guy let us know that they'd be adding single-cup Keurig coffee brewers to the three main buildings. We're responsible for buying our own K-Cups, the plastic-heavy pods you put in the brewer for each cup of coffee you want. They're not replacing, but supplementing, the existing coffee service that CIT pays for.

I suspect this is partly in reaction to growing complaints with the limited selection CIT stripped down to about two years ago: crappy caffeinated coffee or crappy decaf, and cheap tea. There had been a third coffee that I considered quite drinkable, but it was a little more expensive than the "Classic Colombian," so it got the axe as a cost-cutting measure. (Not really interested in discussing the economic sense or "luxury" of providing free coffee to staff. It's been done.)

For about the last year and a half, I've been buying Community Coffee to share, but I'll be honest that the real frustration there isn't with shouldering most of the expense, it's with the laziness of our coworkers. The office coffee compact is simple: you're gonna drink it, you've gotta brew it. If you find an empty pot, or especially if you empty a pot, it's your responsibility to brew a pot. Far too often I try to pour a cup mid-morning only to discover a cold half-pot of yesterday's coffee. You know I'm not the first to try it, but everyone before me put the pot back down, too lazy to brew a fresh pot, or at least empty the old stuff.

The Keurig machines address that issue in a sad, solitary-focused way. If you want a cup, you make a cup. The person after you gets nothing from this. It solves the problem of people not being cooperative about making the next pot of coffee by eliminating many pots of coffee a day. Unfortunately, it also penalizes those who'll still prefer to drink a free cup of coffee, because many of us who can afford to will just be buying our own and ignoring the free stuff. Will this eventually mean phasing out the free coffee as fewer and fewer people use it, making it harder to sustain the cost? (And, if so, is that really bad?)

Yesterday, getting back to work and finding all of the free sample K-Cups gone, I simply ordered my own, deciding to try the Emeril's Big Easy Bold Coffee K-Cups. They arrived a little while ago, while I was in the middle of typing this, and they're delicious! Definitely bold. Also ordered the Solofill refillable K-Cup, a plastic and stainless steel contraption that lets you use your own ground coffee. I have lots of bags of coffee I hardly ever touch, including a bunch I buy from fundraising groups, so it'll be good to start using some for cup-at-a-time brewing at work.

Yes, the Keurig brewer is nice for those of us who want to be able to make ourselves a nice cup of coffee without waiting for a whole pot to brew, and without worrying about whether others will carry their weight. But who does it benefit most? The local corporate coffee service company, who suddenly gets to sell us individually boxes of coffee that average 50 cents a cup, instead of selling Cornell boxes of coffee that average 20 cents a pot.
17 comments or Leave a comment
ubiquitous_a From: ubiquitous_a Date: April 13th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
We have one of these machines where I work, except it's coin-operated. Which means I can't just buy my own stuff. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I know there are k-cups for hot cider and hot chocolate, and I would love to have those available. Unfortunately, since they're seasonal, the vendor can't offer those. I could buy my own, but then I'd be paying for it twice. :(

mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, what a pain. :-( Tell them they should offer you the K-Cups you want or take off the damn coin-op gizmo so you can use your own!
aregulardyke From: aregulardyke Date: April 13th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I keep hearing that the price of coffee ( on the comodities market ) keeps going up, and that growers have had a bad season, meaning not very good harvest yield. Add in the price of transport ... well, the same thing's still going on in food world ( tomatoes, wheat, etc etc ).

If I had to rely on other people making a pot of * anything *, and no one did it, I think I'd very very glad for the do-it-yerself single cup system. At least you get to choose your flavor ( I think you like more bold flavors than I do ! ) and can make your own refills.

Can you put something like a Mr.Coffee on your desk, and make your own a pot at a time, or is that forbidden ?

mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

I could make my own pot of coffee at my desk, and some people do, either for themselves or to share -- but that would be more trouble (too far from a sink, for example) and would mean I can't just walk in in the morning and pour myself a cup of coffee.

It also feels as though anything I did right at my desk would be distracting to my officemates, who put up with enough of my idiosyncrasies. :-)
jccohen From: jccohen Date: April 13th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
This made me wonder how much a Keurig is for home use, and it ranges from 80 to 250 dollars. I wonder if the price difference in the units makes a real difference...
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think they mostly vary in terms of customizability (how many choices of cup size, etc.), automatability (can it dispose of the K-Cup for you), and life cycle (is it designed for one a day for five years, or fifty a day for twenty years).
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mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yup, I have a Senseo at home, too. Decent variety of pods available, and a lower cost per cup along with the lower waste.
lovecat10036 From: lovecat10036 Date: April 13th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Keurig machines address that issue in a sad, solitary-focused way. If you want a cup, you make a cup. The person after you gets nothing from this.

Except the "pleasure" of removing the previous person's used K-cup from the machine...because people will always find a way to be inconsiderate. [Unless of course you have one of those fancy ones that clears the used K-cup and deposits it in a chamber in the machine...in which case getting a cup of coffee turns into some sort of demented roulette game to see who gets stuck emptying the chamber. Betcha the "put the cold coffee back" crew will just walk away from that one, too!]

Edited at 2011-04-13 09:02 pm (UTC)
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

*sigh* You're probably right. At least pulling out a used K-Cup isn't that onerous. They're much tidier than a traditional filter full of grounds.
sskipstress From: sskipstress Date: April 13th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
How tidy is the re-usable doohickey? I'm wondering if a reusable doohicky and a bag of ground coffee could become the new free coffee or if it would be too messy or too much hassle. Assuming people didn't throw it away or abscond with it. There's money to be made in black market doohickeys, you know.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 13th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

The grounds have to be dumped out and the filter rinsed. Not hard, but I'm not confident it would be treated reasonably.
retrev From: retrev Date: April 14th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC) (Link)
That happens all the time at my office...if someone gets caught doing it they often make the excuse that "my old office had a machine that automatically emptied it for you"...whatever
mama0807 From: mama0807 Date: April 14th, 2011 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I would actually like to have a Keurig, or something similar, for home.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: April 14th, 2011 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)

It's really nice to be able to make a single cup of coffee with no fuss. The Keurig approach is more expensive per cup than most, but the coffee is kept nice and fresh inside the sealed K-Cups. Of course, it also means extra waste that has to be thrown away. In theory, you could compost the grounds and recycle the plastic cup, but in practice that's never gonna happen.

The Senseo is a pretty good compromise, with filter-paper pods that don't stay as fresh (unless you get individually sealed ones) but are way cheaper per cup.

Or use a pourover brewer and regular filters and ordinary ground coffee. There's no expensive single-cup brewer; you just have to heat the water some other way, such as a kettle.
mama0807 From: mama0807 Date: April 14th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked the Senseo. I'd keep my regular pot for brewing coffee if we have company over, though.

I'm the only one who drinks coffee at home so I'd be the only one worrying about clean up. I'm not a fan of drinking coffee out of the work machine because I don't think it gets cleaned very much during the week and it's just gross.
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