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Keurig: A fair and honest review.

The pros and cons of super convenient coffee systems.

Which each new innovation on convenience coffee, the entire world of coffee changes.

  • First, you had to grind your coffee beans on a mortar and pestle, now we have electric grinders.

  • Even having to grind up your own beans is no longer necessary because they sell pre-ground coffee.

  • We also had to heat up the water and carefully pour it over the grounds. Now we have machines that heat up the water and pour it over the grounds for you.

  • Even then, instead of turning on your coffee pot, measuring out the water, grinding the beans, setting the machine to brew and waiting 10-15 minutes, you turn the machine on, load the pod, press the button and 2 minutes later you have a fresh-brewed cup of coffee.

  • Also, instead of driving to the local coffee shop or the Dunkin' drive through and spending $5 on a single cup, you can buy 30 cup's worth for under $20.

You get the idea. I'm not interested in sharing the entire history of coffee making here. Today I'd like to focus on the newest development that many people including myself have concerns about.

Whether I agree with something or not, I believe it's necessary to give everything a fair and honest review.

My first encounter with Keurig

The entire time I've enjoyed coffee I've always been inclined to make it fresh as much as possible. I wasn't always able to get whole beans, so I saw grinding it fresh as a treat even if it was from the grocery store. In general, I've always brewed my own coffee and never felt the need to make it any more convenient. When the Keurig came into popularity, I always thought of it as frivolous. I had my French press, I was content.

It wasn't until I began serving as pastor back in late 2020 when I even began paying any mind to coffee pods. In the fellowship hall there was a giant commercial coffee machine, but no one ever used it. In front of the commercial machine was a duo coffee system with the automatic drip on the left and a pod setup attached. The pods were well stocked and we rarely had anything going on that required making a full pot, so I decided to give it a try.

I'm not a Q grader, nor do I consider my palette to be particularly discerning, but the coffee pods weren't bad at all as long as it was fresh. The only issue I had in general was it was very susceptible to the "Sip of Death," which you can read about here.

Where things went wrong...

In my church and home there have been a number of electrical issues over the years, all involving overloaded circuits and wires. Every time there's been an electrical issue I would be greeted with the smell of plastic melting or hot metal, sometimes both. One issue in particular was in my church office where an outlet was melting and about to catch fire. The whole room was filled with the smell of burning plastic for hours even after the outlet was replaced.

Why am I talking about electrical issues when giving a review about coffee pods? Well, for weeks afterward I would come in on Sunday morning, fix myself a coffee pod cup, set it at my desk, leave my office to work on something in another room, then return to my office smelling a hint of burning plastic. Of course I get very anxious and begin checking the outlets, feeling the walls, making sure the breaker was intact. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, which only made me more anxious.

Now, this would only happen on Sunday mornings, but I would work in my office almost daily throughout the week. The difference between Sunday and the other days? I only made coffee pod coffee on Sunday mornings. Hmm, make coffee and smell burning plastic, I wonder if there's a connection?

Think about it, you're taking a a flimsy piece of plastic and forcing high temperature water under pressure through it. What is plastic made out of? Oil. What does oil do under heat? It softens and breaks down. Therefore, those pods are inevitably bleeding plastic into your coffee as it extracts the flavor from the grounds. That's what I was smelling that day when I suspected another electrical issues.

Other issues to consider.

Not only is there a small level of plastic bleeding into your coffee, which ends up in your system, there are other problems.

  • Pods are the domain of the big coffee companies, don't forget about us little guys!

  • It's essentially impossible to have fresh coffee in those pods due to carbon dioxide. Since they need to be fully sealed, the CO2 released after roasting will end up popping the pods. The only solution is to allow all of the CO2 to release before packing, which means every pod out there is completely stale.

  • Unless the machine is pumping water at the same temperature and pressure as espresso, which is 15-20 bars, you won;t get the extraction you need from the coffee. Normal Keurigs operate at less than 1 bar, which is pretty much what an automatic drip would do. Automatic drips, pour overs and French press require a couple of minutes to extract everything properly, but Keurigs are ready in less than a minute.

  • I always used to compromise with everyone on the issue by using the reusable basket where you add your own grounds, but even then it doesn't produce a quality cup of coffee.

What do we do about it then?

Generally when I give reviews like this, I try my best to offer solutions that are doable. I have spent years trying to find a reasonable solution, but all I can offer is this:

  • Coffee must be enjoyed. Whether you use a French press, pour over, automatic drip or even a sock over a kettle on the campfire, make coffee the way you enjoy it. If you enjoy the Keurig pods, don't let me make you feel bad for using them.

  • With that in mind, I'd like to share a thought on hospitality. If you're visiting someone and they prepare a coffee pod for you, be thankful and enjoy it. If I'm at your house, please don't feel intimidated making coffee for me. I believe strongly in accepting hospitality and enjoying the company of the person who made the coffee more than the coffee itself.

  • Coffee should never be rushed. The convenience of a cup in under a minute is appealing when there's no time to enjoy it. This is what the big commercial coffee businesses prey on. Starbucks has even admitted their coffee is sub-par, but they work hard to make it super convenient.

  • Coffee must be enjoyed with someone or something. I believe coffee should either be enjoyed with someone or connected with a certain part of your day that's special. For me, I enjoy a pour over in the morning while I read my Bible and a cappuccino with my wife at lunch. Therefore, I enjoy coffee with someone and something, both are very special to me.

And you my friend, are special to me as well. Sitting down and sipping coffee with my neighbors and customers is undoubtedly the high point of this coffee shop. This is where connections are made or repaired. This is where you can come in and take a break from the craziness of the world.

I invite you to the coffee table where we can enjoy a cup together, thank you for taking the time to read this!

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