The Keurig is changing the coffee routines of millions of people. Coffee connoisseurs often look down their noses at the machine, considering its brewing results mediocre and the disposable plastics wasteful.
Truth is, even though the K-cup system is expensive, inefficient, and extravagant in its own way, we at Thrasher don’t feel the need to judge our fellow coffee drinkers.
Publicly, great coffee seems elusive and hard to formulate. Many craft coffee drinkers are perfectionists, producing elaborate brewing methods and needless fancying of their roasted beans. While we want to abstain from anything that reminds us of instant coffee, we have complicated the craft beyond all reason—scaring away the drinkers that want quick, efficient coffee.
Coffee roasters and brewing enthusiasts use expensive specialized equipment. They take all the time in the world to make the coffee ever-so slightly more delicious; not that anyone was complaining when we just had a pour-over and French press. People finagle test tubes, filters, temperature gauges and timing, as though the coffee will turn into toxic wastes if they do things more simply.
It’s no wonder that people want something simple with one or two buttons to press, rather than the ever-growing sophisticated and demanding tools coffee artisans are adding to the process.
We are sending the message that, “Good coffee is difficult coffee, and yours is crap.” In order to make our coffee better, it comes at a huge cost. It takes lots of time. We spend more on the beans per cup we brew. Then we have the nerve to tell people abroad that, “If you want good coffee, you’ll need to do the same.”
And our fancy coffee is just as wasteful in other ways. K-cups dump a lot of plastic, but we dump a lot of paper. We use hotter water, which is often heated less efficiently than an automatic brewer. And we use and trash just as many paper cups as the next coffee drinker. Did I mention the wooden stirrer sticks and packets of sweetener? Those are material goods, and we often use just half of the sweetener and throw the rest away. And we only use the stirrer once then throw it away.
We would probably win over many of the Keurig fans if we struck a finer balance: produced something faster, more efficient, economical, and far less grandiose. Maybe if we showed them a few simple steps, and offered recommendable coffee brewing machines, then they wouldn’t give into the K-cup.
Coffee is just a drink—a great one that we want more people to richly enjoy. It isn’t anymore special than the next drink or food. It’s not artistic, sophisticated, or laborious. Our attention to ridiculous techniques are distracting everyone from the real struggle we all face: finding a good source of freshly roasted coffee beans that will make a decent cup of joe with most any simple brewing system.
We want to proudly support coffee drinkers, and give them a satisfying brew that’s easy to come by. We drop the pretension, formalities, and gear obsessiveness. Avoid fancy coffee as well as mechanized coffee, and just make good coffee with simple means.