The case for an efficient cup of coffee

February 10, 2015

Americans are buying less coffee while drinking more of it. How does that work? The answer, Reuters’ Luc Cohen explains, lies in the rise of single-cup coffee makers. These machines are swallowing up significant market share by allowing consumers to brew only as much coffee as they need, which in turn means less coffee purchased and less coffee wasted. As Cohen writes, “Traders often quip that before single serve coffee pods gained prominence, the sink was the world’s largest coffee consumer.”

As this interactive Reuters graphic shows, according to Mintel data, home brewing using single-cup coffee makers has increased dramatically, from just over 3 percent of total sales in January, 2009, to over 32 percent in January, 2014. Single-cup coffee use increased to $3.81 billion in sales in January, 2014, compared to just $230 million in the same month of 2009. Total coffee sales were $11.9 billion in 2014, compared to $7.6 billion in 2009.

The competition to sell the coffee pods that bloom into full mugs of Joe via single-cup machines has been fierce. Last year Keurig tried to add digital rights management to it’s v 2.0 machines and pods, a move that would have allowed only the brewing of Keurig-approved coffee. At the time Keurig called the technology the “future of brewing,” but Consumer Affairs was considerably less excited, announcing the move under the headline, “Will coffee drinkers be stupid enough to fall for this? Stay tuned.” Indeed, coffee drinkers weren’t having it; pod-sales competitors quickly hacked their way around the digital rights, and poor sales of 2.0 machines hit Keurig’s bottom line.

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4 comments

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Fair Trade coffee and a neat glass and ceramic apparatus have increased our quality and enjoyment…making every drop delicious.

Posted by mkhunt | Report as abusive

Our Pasquini expresso machine is single serving and puts out a killer cup of coffee. Pods are a pale imitation of a good expresso machine.

Posted by JimTheDiver | Report as abusive

And yet they are probably the most inefficient means of producing coffee once you factor in all the excess materials extraction, processing, fuel costs, packaging, shipping weight, etc., with each and every serving produced.

Posted by swagval | Report as abusive

People are morons – always brewed single mug servings – choice of great blends

Posted by jackdanielsesq | Report as abusive