Saturday, September 19, 2015

K-Cup Conundrum

A couple of years ago, my wife expressed an interest in getting a Keurig.  I was less than excited, since I knew how pricey that made the coffee.  However, her mom kindly gifted one to use for Christmas.  I insisted that we needed to get the reusable filter that would allow us to use our own grounds instead of the pricey K-cups.  So, we purchased the filter and would get around to using it after we finished with the sample cups and some of the other ones that we had purchased.

**years pass**

The filter remained in its packaging, unused.  The convenience gained by the K-cups was worth the price paid.

Recently, there has been a "workplace improvement" initiative going on at my job.  After painting the breakroom nicer colors than the simple dirty white, a new Keurig was purchased and added.  After the initial free cups, it is up to us to provide our own when using it.  I was very excited about this, since I had stopped drinking coffee at work due to how awful it was.  Now I'd be able to bring in my own cups and enjoy them at work, whenever I wanted, not just in the morning and after lunch, when I'd bring my coffee made at home.

All was going well until a number of people started complaining about how wasteful the K-cups are.  I would just roll my eyes to myself and end the conversation by jokingly explaining how "wastefulness makes the coffee taste better."  Clearly, not being interested in engaging them in the conversation, they'd leave to go do work or whatever, maybe going off to find someone else who was more sympathetic to their cause.

However, enough people had made comments about it being wasteful that I decided that I needed to research this to see if it was really as big a deal as they were trying to make it.  What I found was a bit discouraging.  The K-cups, in a majority of places, are not recyclable, meaning that they directly contribute to landfills.  This isn't that important, though, right?  How much space can these little things really take up? According the what I've found, plenty.  According to this article, the K-cups sold in one year would circle the earth over 10 times when laid end to end.  So, it seems that maybe this is a bigger deal than I initially thought it was.

I opened the reusable filter today and prepared it for use. Reading the instructions, it seems simple enough to duplicate the ease of the K-cup without much additional effort.  Being later in the day, I'm not inclined to have any more coffee right now, but intend to give it a shot tomorrow morning. Assuming that it works as well as it seems it should, I'll probably stop using the K-cups at home.

That only leaves the question of what to do about the work Keurig.  It is the 2.0 which has ridiculous DRM to prevent "non-approved" K-cups from being used. That hasn't been much of a problem until now, and when it was, we simply used a lid from another K-cup to fool it into working. But, after reading about how to install the filter, I am doubtful that the filter would even fit. Even so, the convenience quickly disappears when you are left trying to manage your private filter and ground coffee at the workplace.

For now, I think I'll use the rest of my K-cups exclusively at work and the filter at home. When I run out, I guess I'll either go back to much more limited coffee intake (which might not be a bad idea, actually) or find another solution at that time. I know that there are alternative, more bio-friendly K-cups available, but even those seem like there is a lot of waste. Still, it is a step in the right direction. I will have plenty of time to consider other alternatives as I am finishing up my current supply, anyhow.