Let's Talk About those Plastic "Konvenience" Cups and the Earth!

Everybody makes coffee differently. If you’re a true connoisseur of coffee, you understand me when I say that two years ago I got rid of my Auto-Drip pot and decided to exclusively brew using Chemex and French Press methods. I decided that there are few things in life worth waiting for, but a good artistic brew of coffee was one of them. But I know that’s not for everybody. I will never succeed in convincing most people to abandon their auto-drip pots for more “artistic” methods of brewing and I am okay with that. For many people, coffee in the morning has to be a cost/benefit thing: auto-drip pots do offer the convenience of being able to press “start”, jump in the shower, and have your coffee ready for you when you are so fresh and so clean clean!

Enter “plastic coffee pods”: one of the most popular revolutions to the coffee industry and, perhaps, a revealing symbol of America’s continuous reliance on sacrificing quality for convenience, even at the expense of impacts that we can’t see!

Here are some facts about our precious “Konvenience-Cups”!

  • Over 13 million people have purchased one of the famous “plastic coffee-pod” machines. While the machines themselves are not that expensive, once they have you...they have you! And you’ll keep buying for no other reason than you have the machine and feel like you should! 
  • These cups are costly! You’re paying close to $40/pound! Now, as an artisan coffee roaster, we get plenty of people who balk and criticize us for the idea of a $10/bag of coffee (listen, people, we’re not getting rich off of doing this!). While people tend to know they’re paying more for the convenience of the machine, my guess is most people have no idea how much they’re paying for the convenience! It’s simply not economically sustainable if you’re paying up to 5 times as much as you would for even artisan roasted coffee!!
  • Every year, enough plastic pods are bought and used that if staked end-to-end they would circle the world 10.5 times.
  • Most of these cups are not recyclable! And even of those that are, how much of that decomposes?! Zero. Nilche. Nada. Which means that these plastic just goes into the ground! Most of us know this, of course. But most of us don’t care enough to have it actually alter our behaviors! Why is this?! 
  • The inventor of these cups (John Sylvan) regrets ever making them. If the inventor of something regrets his invention, it should give you a pause.

If we’re going to be people that talk about “environmental care”, “creation care,” and rail against global consumerism and politics that negatively impact the environment but we’re still going to develop personal habits that are unnecessarily putting stuff into the ground that doesn’t need to be there, we’re doing no more than practicing hypocrisy at worst and inconsistency at best.

Of course, we’re all hypocrites because...well...we’re all human. But the question is when the spotlight is shown on the ways in which we’re living inconsistently with our values, whether we truly feel the need to alter our behaviors. That is the greatest effect of the temptation of convenience, of course. It secretly whispers in our ears that “little inconsistencies” don’t matter all that much. And, of course, that is the appeal of these little cups! They're little! But imagine if you could combine all your cups for an entire year and actually see how muc you throw away? Would it change anything? We don't see the inconsistency in our values because these cups are meant to keep the problem invisible. 

So since we realize this kind of thing will only resonate with a small minority of people, we’re going to presume that most people will continue to rely on the convenience of the famous pods and machines, but we want to offer another approach that we think is at least a middle ground in which you can have the convenience of the machine but save economically and environmentally--oh, and improve the quality of your morning:

  1. Buy bagged coffee! Whole Bean Coffee, preferably as it is far fresher than anything else! But buy a bag that supports a local craft/artisan roaster. You’re supporting local community development and small businesses while, at the same time, getting coffee that is by pound five times cheaper than what you’re paying with your convenience machine.
  2. Buy a reusable “cup.” Seriously. Buy one. Don’t hesitate. Just do it! Yes, that means you might have to buy a $10 coffee grinder with it and you’re going to have to add an extra 30 seconds to your morning brew. Oh well! At least you’ll know that in your life you haven’t put five hundred pounds of plastic into the ground that will take hundreds of years to decompose. If you are still not buying one at this very moment, you need to spend some time reflecting on why you are not and ask yourself whether your reasons are truly justified. And then stop and go buy one!
  3. Buy a French-Press. Not only are you going to get far better coffee, but you’ll also be getting the benefit of convenience and single-serve. Yes, that’s right. French Presses take about as much work as refilling the water in your brewing machine: 1) Put some water on the kettle; 2) Put your grounds in 3) Put the water on; 4) Go get dressed for work; 5) Press down. That’s it.
  4. Watch this video. Your welcome!

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