Is the Coffee Pod Trend Coming to an End?

The Washington Post reports this week that sales of Keurig, maker of coffee pod machines and coffee pods is declining in sales.

When they first launched, the single-serve method grew impressively. Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us
According to the Seattle Times, US consumers bought $132 million worth of coffee pods in 2008 and by 2013 sales rose to $6 billion compared with $2.5 billion spent on instant coffee.

However, Keuirg announced that it sold 7 percent fewer machines during the holidays than it had the year before, the sixth straight quarter in declining sales.

Environmentally minded consumers may account for the slump in sales. Journalist Murray Carpenter estimated in his book Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us, that by 2011, there would be enough K-Cups to encircle the Earth six times. This estimate has since been updated, according to the viral video Kill the K-Cup Before It Kills Our Planet, enough K-Cups have been produced to encircle the Earth 10.5 times.  That adds up to a lot of non-biodegradable plastic.

According to The Atlantic, the inventor of the Keurig K-Cups says he regrets ever making the non-recyclable, single-serve coffee pods, which are piling up in landfills. “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” John Sylvan told The Atlantic.

The Washington Post also notes that part of the decline may also be in response to the improving economy. The popularity of K-Cups hit surprisingly at the start of the recession, however it could be because consumers were using the coffee pod experience as a substitute for going out to coffeeshops. A study by The New York Times found that people were paying a lot for convenience, sometimes 5 times as much for coffee pod servings than they would for regular brewed coffee.

Alternatives to Coffee Pods
1. Gold Cup Reusable Filter

2. Find biodegradable alternatives to the coffee pod. According to San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee Co., Customer Service Manager, Richard Saldana, “our single serve pods (called OneCups
) are made from a majority of components that are compostable. The lidding is made from wood pulp and the ring is from corn products. The only piece that is not, is the food grade nylon polyester mesh that holds the grinds. We are working on developing a mesh that will compost as well.”

JD Sullivan

JD Sullivan is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Green Action News. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Mass Communication. JD is passionate about journalism & sustainable living.

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