Single-serve coffee trend creating more waste




A single bodum. A kettle. Your favourite blend of coffee. And 4 minutes. That’s all it takes.


I had no idea these were more than a novelty (I’m oblivious to some things but I don’t think they’re that popular where I am). That’s one hell of a lot of waste and more than a little disturbing. I agree with putting the onus back on the producers in general but in this case, I’m more inclined to support their removal from the market.


Heck even a simple pour over cone that fits over a mug is better than those things.


I work at a large university and pretty much every department is replacing the old style drip coffee pots with Keurigs. It’s bizarre. Also, the coffee is terrible. Like seriously the worst. They all think you can recycle the kcups. I gave up arguing. Also seniors love them and everyone seems to be buying them for their grandparents.


I bought a bigger version of one of those pour-overs for my cold brewing rig back before I realized a bright future of too much caffeine would not be a good thing for me. Considering how reusable they are, I’d say they’re fairly much saintly in comparison. Unless I’ve misunderstood what you meant (I’m talking about the plastic things with mesh for the liquid to filter out of).


I received one as a gift a while back. I had the same concern about throwing those cups away, day after day. I got a basket to go with it so I can use my own grind, but honestly, it’s not less trouble than just using a French press.

I would suggest that the Keurig is handy when guests are staying over. I don’t think the coffee is that bad – not as good as I can make with a French press, but better than canned grounds off the shelf using a drip maker.


But the marketing makes the single-serving kind special!


Well mine is a plastic thing that a filter fits into. Compostable paper ones in my case as it only gets used on the odd day that I or my spouse want the extra cup after the normal dose of the french press has run out and making a whole new pot is way way too much.


Is waste from ordinary household trash actually a serious environmental problem, as seen by scientists? (as opposed to activists like the ones quoted in the article) Does it contribute in any significant way to the really serious environmental problems like global warming, mass extinction, deforestation, ocean acidification etc.? I remember when Bjorn Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist” came out I saw a lot of good debunkings of his claims about global warming and such, but I never really saw much in the way of a debunking of the claim that “waste” is a pretty minor issue (leaving aside special types like radioactive waste), that for example all of the trash in U.S. landfills could fit in a square region only 18 miles on each side (there’s a similar analysis here). I know Lomborg is not to be trusted on any environmental issue, but it’s also true that when I read stories about scientists pointing to environmental problems, I never come across any discussions of household waste as a major issue. I’d be happy to be shown otherwise if anyone has any links though (preferably to a science story that does some quantitative analysis of the impact).


Like others I’m mystified by the popularity of these things. Wasteful and orders of magnitude more expensive. It’s also seems to feed into some kind of collectors instinct, people hunting down and debating what hard to find k-cup is the best.


I’m a big fan of the Aeropress for making a single cup of coffee. It’s a little more work, but the results are usually pretty good and they are very easy to clean up.

The Aeropress does use a small disc paper filter, but honestly I think that the paper waste is negligible, and the filter and grounds are compostable if you’re into that. You can buy a permanent metal filter for it if you want.


They don’t make good coffee, certainly, but they make better coffee than is typically made by those 1950s-style industrial drip pots that they are replacing – that’s why they are getting popular in universities and other institutions. People aren’t comparing it against freshly ground gourmet beans brewed in a french press. Not that this necessarily justifies the waste, but it explains their popularity.


Ink jet printer economics, applied to coffee.


Yeah, it is analogous to ink cartridges. Although I haven’t seen a pod system that was quite so evil as to bundle several types of coffee in one pod and then make you discard the pod if you want more Sumatran even if you have plenty of Columbian left.


I’m a coffee snob and my Dolce Gusto 15 bat pod machines make stellar cups of lungo.

Heat + pressure is what Keurig is missing.


My University department has an actual espresso machine. So there.


I love my Keurig because it is clean, quick, and convenient, but I was thinking recently about how much waste it generates when looking at a tiny pile of spent k-cups destined for a landfill.

It comes with an attachment that allows you to use your own ground coffee or loose tea leaves, so that would seem to mitigate the issue of waste and also reduce the level of condescension from coffee snobs.


Yeah I see the reusable pods (or whatever you call them) everywhere now but I love the french press I have. I imagine even mediocre but fresh ground beans in one of those comes out tastier than any of the disposable cups.


AeroPress FTW! Haven’t used my French Press since getting one.