Most of everyone I know has or had a personal Keurig coffee machine and the notorious K-Cups carousel sitting on their kitchen countertop. In this article, we explore the cost of owning pour over coffee maker vs Keurig / K-Cups. We’ll compare equipment, the cost to brew and long term sustainability of each brewing method. It’s also important to try and make this comparison as fair as possible, especially when it comes to the initial set up of both methods. In full disclosure, I’ve also owned a Keurig (might even have been two Keurigs, I can’t remember), granted one was a gift, but we’ll be comparing Keurig’s most popular model to the iconic Chemex pour over coffee maker.
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As of the writing of this article, the Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, is the most popular model on Amazon, which currently costs $79.00 USD. We will use that specific model for comparison for this entire article. As for the Chemex, the closest for that current price range compared to Keurig Classic is the Chemex, Handblown Pour-over Glass Coffeemaker, 8-Cup which currently costs $80.08 USD (Reg. $93.17), also on Amazon. With a pour over, there is additional equipment that’s needed if you’re just starting in the pour over or even the coffee scene. You’ll need a grinder, food scale, special Chemex filter (normal coffee filters are a pain to use) and an electric or traditional kettle for boiling water. The Keurig Classic comes fully functional straight out the box without any additional pieces to start brewing your first K-Cup. If you’re having to buy all the pour over equipment from the beginning, assuming you don’t have hot water kettle and/or burr grinder, then the pour over method will have a very expensive starting cost in comparison to the Keurig Classic set up.
|Items||Chemex Glass Coffeemaker||Keurig K-Classic Single Server|
|Coffee Maker||$80.08 (Reg. $93.01)||$79.00|
As you can see, the starting cost for pour over coffee is pretty steep, assuming you don’t have all the necessary pieces of equipment to get started. But chances are, you may have an electric kettle, or a traditional kettle or maybe even a burr grinder. In those cases, the cost will be less of an issue. Also, please note that the Keurig has water filter requirements, but when you initially buy a Keurig machine, it already comes with it, that would be considered an ongoing cost of owning the machine, not the initial cost. Whereas, when you received your brand new Chemex, it will not come with any filters, you have to buy them separately. The list above is general prices of what you might find for a pour over coffee equipment. Those are the ones listed because we have used and/or currently own. You can certainly buy cheaper options for grinder, water heater, and filters. There are bleached filter options on Amazon for Chemex that are far cheaper than the ones priced out for this article. It would reduce the cost down a little bit, but the fact remains, the Keurig Class machine is much more convenient out the box than a pour-over system.
Cost to Brew a Cup of Coffee: Pour Over vs Keurig
Let’s do another direct comparison between the cost to brew each cup of coffee. If you’ve ever bought a box of K-Cups, you may have noticed the price per cup the side label of the coffee boxes. You can make a fair comparison between these methods, but we’ll have to do some simple math to get the per cup cost of the pour over coffee. For this test, let’s look at six different whole coffee roasters, three of which are local and the other three are well-known brands. In general, you’ll use about ~30 grams of coffee per cup using pour over method. This number will vary based on your taste, but ~30 grams for coffee for 16 oz of water is a good rule of thumb for 2 servings of pour over, this ratio will vary slightly (+- 3 grams of coffee) based on the coffee grind, roast, and personal preference. I will use the basic measurements of 30/16 to make price comparison per cup coffee.
Pour Over Coffee / Local Roasters Cost Per Cup / Whole Bean
|Coffee Roaster||Price / Bag Weight||Per Cup Cost||Filter Cost|
|Merit Roasting Co. – Sugarplum||$17.50 / 340g||$0.77 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
|Estate Co. – La Agencia||$13.00 / 226g||$0.85 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
|Independence Coffee Co. – Backyard Pecan||$8.50 / 340g||$0.37 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
|Death Wish Organic Cert. Whole Bean||$19.99 / 454g||$0.66 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
|Counter Culture – Adenisa||$18.50 / 340g||$0.81 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
|Peet’s – Big Bang||$16.95 / 454g||$0.56 / Cup||+ $ 0.12|
Data on the table above table is not surprising, the three coffee companies are local roasters in San Antonio, TX (Merit, Estate, and Independence) and have been thoroughly tested before for quality, taste, and cost. The other three, Death Wish, Counter Culture and Peet’s are nationally recognized coffee companies that sell whole bean bags. Interestingly enough, Death Wish Organic is $ 0.66 per cup + filter cost which is considerably cheaper than the Death Wish K-Cup pour-over equivalent serving at 8 fl oz per cup.
Keurig K-Cups Cost Per Cup
|Brand||Price / Count||Per Cup Cost|
|Crave Coffee – Variety Pack||$33.0 / 100||$0.33 / Cup|
|Green Mountain – Collection||$25.99 / 40||$0.65 / Cup|
|Starbucks Flavored Coffee||$33.58 / 40||$0.84 / Cup|
|Peet’s Coffee – Maj. Dickanson’s Blend||$37.99 / 75||$0.51 / Cup|
|Death Wish Coffee – World’s Strongest Coffee||$59.50 / 50||$1.20 / Cup|
|Caribou Coffee Caribou||$34.45 / 72||$0.48 / Cup|
Overall K-Cups aren’t much cheaper than your average pour over (+ filter), I think the prices are comparable and you’re getting a much better coffee with pour over. Also, keep in mind that the average K-Cup generally has less than 15 grams of coffee, some are actually almost half that! As an example, we’ll use Green Mountain Coffee Collection since it’s a variety pack actually prints the coffee weight in each K-Cup. Let’s look at the amount of coffee in each Green Mountain K-Cup:
|K-Cup Type||K-Cup Coffee Weight (grams)||K-Cup / Pour Over %|
|Breakfast Blend||8.9||40% LESS COFFEE|
|Nantucket Blend||9.4||38% LESS COFFEE|
|Dark Magic||11.4||24% LESS COFFEE|
|Columbia||9.4||38% LESS COFFEE|
Doing some simple maths here & using the normal ratio of 15 grams per pour over coffee cup at 8 oz of water, you get far less coffee buying K-Cups at the same 8 oz brew. Now apply that same value to other things you might buy, for example, if you bought a burger at a fast-food restaurant and you found out you were getting 40% less burger than other burget joints, would you keep buying burgers from the same place? Probably not.
Sustainability – Environmental Cost of Coffee
There is a hidden cost to everything that we do, drinking coffee is no different. The goal isn’t to make this topic a lesson in the morality of drinking coffee, but we should probably think about these things when making a decision about where and how to buy our coffee. The act of making and drinking coffee is something we love, we should follow suit from the alcohol industry and ‘enjoy responsibly‘. One of the biggest drawbacks for K-Cups is recyclability or lack of. Keurig states that K-Cups will be 100% recyclable in the USA by 2020. In the meantime, tens of thousands of K-Cups are not being recycled since a K-Cup has to go out of their way to take a K-Cup apart and recycle only the plastic pieces. There’s a handy little tool on YouTube that clips on top of the K-Cup and cuts it into two pieces for recycling. Still, the solution needs to come from the manufacturer in this case, not the customer. There are reusable K-Cups that you can put your own coffee grounds and brew a cup of coffee, it comes with the Keurig out the box and not an accessory that needs to be purchased.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Hopefully, this little comparison has shed some light on Pour Over Coffee Cost vs Keurig and has helped you with your decision over which one is for you. I personally haven’t owned a Keurig machine in many years, that’s not to say I haven’t used one in the past year or so, after all, they are everywhere. If convenience were the only metric, Keurig wins hands down. The company has poured millions of dollars and has done a great job marketing and making a cup of coffee so fast and easy that it changed the landscape of coffee drinking around the world. Luckily, other metrics are used for coffee such as taste and quality and once you’ve had a properly made pour over coffee, it’s hard to enjoy a K-Cup. If you’re metric is purely cost, then I think the decision isn’t so hard here, pour over doesn’t cost that much more per cup than Keurig and you actually get more coffee. Let us know your thoughts below and experience with K-Cups vs Pour Over.
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