Single-serve coffee pods are the rage, benefiting harried caffeine addicts, the major specialty-coffee companies and many small coffee farmers. But they also carry a hidden price tag and some environmental costs.
The way America drinks coffee is changing one cup at a time. But that doesn’t mean it’s changing slowly.
Sales of coffee made in single-serve brewing systems, barely noticeable five years ago, now account for more than a quarter of every dollar Americans spend on coffee to drink at home. By 2018, market-research firm Mintel expects consumers to spend nearly as much on coffee pods as they do on bulk coffee.
That’s the result of the unparalleled ease of use offered by the likes of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Keurig K-cups: Push a button, and a high-pressure jet of water pierces a small coffee capsule with a filter. Thirty seconds later, a cup of reasonably good coffee comes out.