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.