February 10, 2012

Not So Convenient Coffee Maker Recall

Convenience Kills: Common Sense, Quality, DIY...

For most consumers convenience is everything. If it is not convenient, it is so not happening, regardless of how good it may be. However, we are learning that convenience always comes at a price.

This is evident in the recent North American recall of over 1 million units of a popular brand of uber-convenient single-brew coffee makers. It appears that some users, and innocent bystanders including children, have been burned by a bad design and the desire for a quick, individual brew.

When I first saw the single-cup coffee makers in 2008, I thought they were a bad idea. The kitchen gadgets use pre-measured, prepackaged pods for each single cup of coffee that is manufactured.

It is these plastic pods that have been exploding, burning lurking coffee drinkers counting down the seconds, as well as bystanders.

Not convenient, but safe,
and makes tastier coffee
The small plastic pods, besides being dangerous, also show how convenience often ends in wasted resources. Each cup made produces more waste.

Up to 80% of the things we buy are considered disposable and quickly end up in landfills. We can't afford such excessive waste.

Neither is it affordable when buying coffee in single servings. If it is convenience that you want, you are going to have to pay more. The recalled coffee makers have an annual cost of $275.00 to $640.00 for two cups per day, depending on the kinds of single-serving coffee pods purchased.

For comparisons sake, the annual cost of using a French press - which is also fast, but makes much better coffee - would be about $100 to $200 for two cups per day, depending on the beans you are using. Unfortunately, financial considerations may be the least of the coffee conundrums.

All taste - no waste
Some caffeine-fueled consumers have received 2nd degree burns from their single-brew cartridge coffee makers. If you own one of the models in question, unplug it, and contact the manufacturer.

Better yet, never use it again. Get some beans and a coffee grinder, and brew a tasty batch in a French press or stove-top coffee perk. Taste with no waste, and much cheaper, too.

Convenience should be balanced with sustainability. What is convenient, is rarely what is best. While making decisions about what and how we consume, it is good to keep this in mind.

If we don't, we could get burned.


  1. Anonymous2/11/2012

    YES!! I have been railing about these coffee makers ever since I first saw them. A couple of my friends have them - I'll pass this information along. Because of my small space, I let go of my big coffee maker (gave it to my son, John, who needed one) and bought a french press about a year ago. Like you say it is perfect for two cups of coffee (delicious coffee). I lift my second cup of coffee to you in a toast: "That we all become more conscious of what we consume and the impact of that consumption on our world." Enjoy the day! It is sunny and snow covered here in Northern Ohio.


    1. Karen,

      The offending coffee makers have been insanely popular, especially in Canada where we have bought 10 times as many as coffee drinkers in the US.

      I can't figure out what the appeal is, or why Canadians would fall for this gadget more than those in the US.

      I am heartened by others, like yourself, that also question the suitability of such products. As you point out, even an ordinary coffee maker could be seen as too much when a simple coffee press will do.

      Cheers to you and your delicious low-impact coffee on a sunny, snowy (not here) day.

      Be careful while pouring that hot water...

  2. e.a.f.2/13/2012

    when the individual serve coffee makers came on the market my first thought was, so much packaging, such a waste. It is a wonder people bought them, they aren't the least bit enviornmental.

    If you want to make one cup of coffee just put less water and coffee in a french press. I have had the same one for 8 yrs. Works like a hot dam. I buy fair trade, bird friendly, etc. coffee and life is good.

    1. e.a.f.,

      Single cup coffeemaker's popularity is somewhat perplexing. They remind me and Linda of Easy Bake Ovens.

      The similarity is that both concentrate on consuming little over-packaged trinkets via a small 'magic' machine.

      They must appeal to the kid in us. Nah, kids are smarter than that. The coffee makers just allow us to be the consumers that we have been trained to be.

      It is as if when we create more waste it somehow makes us feel more wealthy and successful.

      Congratulations on your conscientious coffee consumption. It is difficult to improve on a simple coffee press.

      When we make sustainable choices life is indeed good.


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