Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keurig Rant

DAY 98 (Year Two)

Disclaimer: Apologies to my family and friends who have a Keurig...

The search for quick, easy fixes to our daily tasks ends for many with the purchase of a "Keurig" - the instant coffee and tea machine. I had a Keurig in my hotel room on my last road trip and used one of the little plastic cups to make a cup of tea thinking I would be able recycle or reuse the container. Turns out the small shot glass type cup filled with coffee or tea is not recyclable and the reuse is limited by the hole that gets punched in the bottom. I took the thing apart and found a tiny filter glued to the inside of the cup under the foil lid which makes sense as to how it "brews" the tea or coffee.

But isn't that exactly how a coffee maker or tea bag works anyway? So why the need for this mini-filter, one cup thing? Isn't that exactly what a single tea bag or a coffee "pod" would do? The premise is that it is gourmet, fresh and always ready...but how fresh can something in a tiny plastic thing actually be? Shipped from somewhere and stored on a shelf then in a box under a sink in an office??? OK, maybe some people keep the "K-Cups", as they are fondly referred to, in a cupboard or in a glamourous display on a counter...I just don't get it...

Overall, I am not sure the K-tea took any less effort or time than it would to heat water in a what's the attraction? I still had to get water from the tap, pour it into the machine and press a button to make it start...I suppose I saved time and effort by not having to rip open the tea bag...really? Hmmmmm...really, I dont' get it!

This inspirational blurb is from their website:

Brewing excellence, one cup at a time.

We strive for excellence. It's literally a part of who we are as a company. You see, "keurig" is actually derived from the Dutch word for excellence, and it's also our promise to you. From start to finish, it's our benchmark. Be it our patented single cup brewing technology, our gourmet brands of beverages or our customer service, it's simply something you'll come to expect.

Today, we're the leading single cup brewing system in North America, and we couldn't be happier to provide gourmet coffee drinkers with the perfect cup, day in and day out.

Why do we think the single cup brewing technology is so great?

We believe that coffee should always be served fresh, just like a gourmet coffee house, wherever you are. Period. So why brew coffee a pot at a time when we drink it a cup at a time? It was from this question that our revolutionary concept of a K-Cup® Portion Pack was born.

Introduced in 1998, Keurig's innovative single cup brewing system lets people brew the perfect cup of gourmet coffee in less than a minute, without having to grind beans, measure coffee, handle filters or clean up. It's as simple as it gets.

Choose. Brew. Enjoy.®

Simple? Once again, I don't get it. Simplifying an already fairly easy process seems absurd to me. Gosh, I mean is it REALLY that much work to mak coffee? Well, I guess I do have to go all the way to the pantry to get the coffee, work up a sweat to open the bag and pour the beans into the grinder. THEN I have to take a break to work up enough energy to push the grinder down and hold it for hours to grind the beans...then rest again to be able to turn on the water and transport it to the coffee maker. When I have rested enough, I am then able to hoist the coffee filter out of the drawer to lift it up into the coffee maker with both hands. And when I am finally able to recover from the strain of these steps, I push it the start button and hope for the best. Yes. Sarcasm present and accounted for!

The simplified simple process produces a trash item that is not at all "green" or sustainable...Please reconsider this purchase if it was on your list. Your coffee pot and any of your appliances that heat water work just fine. Resist the quick, easy way out that puts more petroleum based plastic into our landfills!!!! This is the K-Response to their non-sustainable product - my comments in (-) for your reading pleasure :)

Sustainable Packaging (not sustainable at all!)

K-Cup® Portion Pack Packaging is an area of major environmental concern for all consumer product companies. As the single cup coffee market and our Keurig brewing systems grow in popularity, we understand that the impact of the K-Cup® Portion Pack waste stream is one of our most significant environmental challenges. The K-Cup package is made up of three main (non-recyclable) elements -- the cup itself, a filter and an aluminum foil top. The polyethylene coating of the foil - as well as the process of heat-sealing the various elements - makes recycling difficult (impossible).

However, this packaging approach prevents oxygen, light and moisture from degrading the coffee. Without the barrier the packaging materials provide, we could not maintain the quality and freshness of the coffee, which means that all the resources and effort put into growing and roasting great coffee would be wasted (so then just get fresh coffee and grind it yourself for Peet's sake!). Finding a more environmentally-friendly approach to this packaging challenge is a big priority for us (but not that much, eh?). We are working on a few different fronts to improve the environmental characteristics of the K-Cup® system, as well as to mitigate its impact (should have done this before In My Humble Opinion).

Here's what we are doing:

* We are actively researching alternatives to the K-Cup® Portion Pack's petroleum–based materials (meanwhile thousands of K-Kups are going into the waste stream!)

* We are conducting a Life Cycle Analysis (so?) to help us understand the overall environmental impact of the K-Cup® Portion Pack as compared to the use of a typical drip- brewer (again, should have done this before...). There are environmental considerations at every step on the road from "tree to cup". By studying the K-Cup over its entire life cycle, we can more clearly understand how and where we can reduce its footprint (yes, stop making plastic junk).

* We are working to identify the right definition of "environmentally friendly" for all our packaging, including the K-Cup Portion Pack. For example it could (should?) mean carbon-neutral, made with renewable materials, recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, petroleum-free, all of the above, or something entirely different (what does that mean?). We are researching what is possible today and tomorrow, taking into account the current state of packaging technology, consumer preferences, community infrastructure, performance requirements, and the demands of the marketplace. (was there really a demand? are we getting that lazy/busy/

overwhelmed with life that we can no longer make coffee????)
* We also continue to offer the My K-Cup, a reusable filter cartridge assembly that can be refilled by the consumer, is easily cleaned, and is compatible with all Keurig home brewers sold today
(you mean like a coffee filter????)

OK, I'm done...going to go make some coffee but I need to rest first...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin


  1. Hear, hear. and I totally smiled. A lot.
    Peace and love.

  2. OMG, I've been moaning over Keurig waste-cups since the first time I saw them. My espresso maker with washable /reuseable filter is the way to go, and go, and go go go...