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Cost of Single-Serve Coffee (K-Cups) at Home

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Yesterday, I covered the cost of brewing coffee at home vs. buying at a coffee shop. I was a little surprised to learn that the savings was around $1.17 a day... $1.75 vs. $0.58 for 16 ounces. (Note: many assumptions were made to get to that number.) While that savings can add up over time, I expected it to be more. I'm inclined to give a decisive edge to those who bring their lunch vs. buy it as that can be a $5+ a day difference.

However, I purposely left out one other option of coffee... brewing at home with the super convenient single serve machines. As I said yesterday, I'm the furthest thing from a coffee expert (as I can't stuff the stuff), but I think this area is dominated by Kerig's K-Cups.

The first thing to talk about with K-Cups is the initial cost of the machine. It isn't trivial as it is typically a $100 or more. Since it is a one-time cost, I'd prefer to move on from it and focus on the bigger cost... the coffee itself.

My research from many different sites says that K-Cups make either 8 or 9 ounces. While I'm sure that you can find a bargain on K-Cups (I've seen some good prices at Staples show up on SlickDeals.net), it seems like the average price is around $0.67 per K-Cup. I'm basing this on Daily Finance, Squawfox, and Coffee Detective coming up with that exact same price.

To get to the 16 ounce that we used yesterday, we'd have to double the cost. The price of brewing at home with the convenience of a K-cup jumps from $0.58 to $1.34. Considering that the average 16 ounce at coffee shop was $1.75, you are giving up a lot of savings with this convenience. I'd say that you are better off pay a little more for the comfy chair, the free wifi, and those sweet barista smiles.

However, if you already bought a K-Cups machine, all is not lost. You can get an Ekobrew Cup, Refillable Cup for Keurig K-cup Brewers and use your own coffee. My only issue with that this eliminates the convenience of a K-Cup. Might as well go traditional at that point, right?

My next idea would be a way to make your own K-Cups in advance. For example, I'd like to make a weeks worth of them with my own coffee and then use those as I'm rushing out to work. (This is an imaginary world where I like coffee and don't work from home.) I don't know if this thing exists, but I couldn't find anything like it. If it doesn't exist and you create this and make a million dollars, I kindly ask that you give me 10%.

This paying for convenience got me thinking about what would be the easiest and cheapest way to make coffee. My solution is a coffee maker in your refrigerator.... and alas there's already a patent on it. The refrigerator door coffee is ideal, because it already has water coming into it in many cases for the ice maker. If you had a vacuum sealed coffee compartment, you could put a whole pound of grounds (or incorporate a whole bean grinder). With an appropriate timer set up, the only thing you'd have to do on a basis is dispose the used coffee grounds.

I could easily be talked into incorporating this idea into a dishwasher that would have water and be able to dispose of the grounds. Combining the money savings of using your own coffee with the convenience of almost fully automated preparation... that's a win, right?

Posted on November 4, 2014.

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2 Responses to “Cost of Single-Serve Coffee (K-Cups) at Home”

  1. Mario says:

    As is so often the case, it seems like we’re not necessarily paying for quality. In this case, we’re not even paying for convenience — the difference between setting up a standard coffee maker with grounds and water and a Keurig seems to be a matter of seconds per cup. Really, it seems like we’re just paying to not have to plan.

  2. I love these articles on the actual cost of buying things. Personally, I’ve set a goal to avoid almost all beverages. Why? Because they usually cost a lot and provide minimal benefit. Of course, this isn’t something every needs to do, but if you want to save money, it certainly helps.

    As you mentioned, meals are a great way to save money as well. I’ve realized that, when I bring a lunch to work, I can save myself a good $5-$10 per day. On the flip side, it’s important to network – so both options have their pros and cons.

    Great content and I look forward to reading more!

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