It’s time! This week, news that Hamburg banned coffee pods from government buildings set off a larger conversation about why we’re still giving our money to companies like Keurig and Nespresso. Let’s be honest: It’s time for the whole world to stop buying coffee pods.
The news from Hamburg comes a year after Keurig announced that nobody was buying its DRM-enabled coffee machine that only accepted “Keurig 2.0” branded coffee pods. The company said it would finally allow people to fill their own coffee pods (again). But again, you shouldn’t be buying these wasteful little pods to begin with.
By some bizarre twist of fate, I attended a Nespresso event a couple years ago and received its newest machine for free. I’d used a Keurig machine at my old office and was thrilled by the convenience. The new Nespresso Virtuoline, however, is like a Cadillac version of the Keurig 2.0 in a way. At $350, the system is expensive, and it’s also equipped with a barcode scanner that ensures your coffee is brewed perfectly you only use Nespresso brand pods. The Keurig 2.0 is equipped with similar technology that Keurig says exists for safety reasons. Everybody knows that it’s really because companies like Keurig and Nespresso really just want to sell you bad, wasteful coffee for over $50 a pound.
Like a chump, I started buying Nespresso pods for my otherwise free machine. It was so shiny and those little pods saved me a trip to the coffee shop! When news of Keurig’s inevitable downturn hit, however, I did a little bit of math in my head. Over the past few months, I’ve spent more on those pods than the machine’s original cost. At $1.50 per pod, they’re actually more expensive than a small coffee at the trendy spot across the street from my apartment. The pods are also clogging up a landfill somewhere, since I can’t really recycle them when they’re full of coffee grounds. That’s a handful of my spent pods in the photo above. I certainly can’t re-use them. Meanwhile, the coffee kind of tastes like mud.
This is all my fault. It would be easy to blame Nespresso—or Keuring, since that’s what got me started on coffee pods. But this shiny new machine was free, and I would’ve been a fool not to use it. Therein lies the fault.
Even if you buy the machine, you can convince yourself that convenient, pod-hungry coffee machines pay for themselves in time and convenience. You convince yourself that the pod coffee tastes not too bad and ignore how many pounds of garbage you’re creating along the way. You tell yourself that America promised you innovation. You even think that refillable coffee pods make the whole system more sensible, less wasteful, and even acceptable.
I did all of these things, save the last part about refillable pods. (Nespresso doesn’t offer this option.) And at this point, I’m ashamed for being such a terrible consumer. I’m going to start making coffee that tastes good. I’m going to get a Chemex or, better yet, a cheap pour-over coffee dripper. I’m going to start using my brain. I’m not buying coffee pods any more, and you shouldn’t either.
This post was originally published on May 8, 2015. It’s been updated with news of Hamburg’s ban on coffee pods.