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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Jim Hillibish: Any trade-off with K-Cups?

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  • I’m sitting here with a cup of Keurig coffee: Mellow, clean-tasting, no hint of harsh coffee oils.
    Single-serving coffee began as a hospitality perk in hotel rooms. We now see them wherever people congregate and in private kitchens.
    Keurig’s parent, Green Mountain, has powered its brand beyond the flashy fad that sent their stock quadrupling last year. Revenues total $2 billion a year, and the company was second on the Forbes list of fastest growing businesses in the world.
    Keurig is now a standard that is pushing past the old filter-and-drip machines that once brewed nearly all of our joe. Coming next year: Cold K-Cups that make soda flavors, a competitor of SodaStream. Coke is a partner.
    Business success in America is rewarded with a chorus of naysayers, Keurig included. I was one of them until I got a machine for Christmas. Is this for you? Try a machine someplace. Read the reviews. Cost out your favorite brew in a K-Cup. Here’s a look at the revolution:
    THE K-CUP
    Keurig’s key is a plastic cup filled with a single serving of coffee and sealed from oxygen to keep fresh. The cup is why a Keurig takes less than 2 minutes to brew. Pour water into the machine, insert K-Cup, press “Brew” and the device boils the water and sends a pressurized stream through the coffee.
    When I first saw this scheme, I thought “what a trash-maker.” Well, the grounds go into the garden and the cups go into the recycling bin. Then I joined the chorus about cost.
    Early Keurig cups cost $1.50 or more, much more than ground coffee. But when the patent expired, the miracle of mass production took over. The cost now is similar to ground coffee.
    If you’re still upset, you can buy refillable cups and use your own Folgers. You lose the freshness benefit and the variety, but refillables work.
    THE EXPERIENCE
    As you get accustomed to the single-cup aspect, you will miss the convenience of the eight-cup coffee carafe. On the other side, you’re brewing each cup fresh. There’s none of that stale, bitter taste of coffee that’s heated too long in the carafe. For me, it’s a fair trade-off.
    Keurig brewers range from $79 to $249 for a volume machine. The big boy still processes each cup individually but has a larger water reservoir. Mr. Coffee, Cuisinart and Breville have licensed their own K-Cup brewers. More are coming as the trend goes mainstream.
    An alternative one-cupper is the Melitta costing $28. Its paper coffee pod is 33 cents at Amazon.com.
    Jim Hillibish is a columnist at The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Reach him at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.

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