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Fact or fiction – “Everybody knows K cups are a little more expensive than store-bought coffee.” But, is it really?
In this post we will debunk myths about costs of coffee using real prizes of currently available coffee. We will compare apples to apples oranges to oranges, K cups to ground coffee, home roasted beans, local cafe roasted beans and store bought beans.
And, we promise not to bore you to tears.
How? We found this neat little coffee cost converter calculator created by Dan Basoli, economist. It is an Excel sheet that has the formulas was built right in. When you enter the information it automatically calculates costs.
Our method was simply to find current prices of coffee, plug it into the calculator and get a standard cost per 8 ounce cup of coffee.
Check it out, results will definitely surprise you in some cases.
How We Used The Coffee Cost Calculator:
The calculator was actually designed to compare a single serve coffee machine system versus a drip variety coffee maker. This included the purchase price and length of time owned. For our purposes, we just wanted to see the coffee cost per serving comparison. So we use the same values for coffee makers.
In reality, K cup coffee makers are generally more expensive than drip coffee makers and certainly both coffee makers are more expensive than a French press or Chemex pour over.
We also chose to suspend our belief in what “good coffee” is and compare bestseller to bestseller. Personally, I don’t care for Folgers coffee. But because it is a bestseller I am in the minority.
The best-selling K cup coffee is Donut Shop which I’ve had many times at one of my jobs. The best I can say about it is that it came out of machine hot. But again, I suspend my snobbery and go with bestsellers so we can take a look at what most people are actually buying and drinking.
Again, this post is not about taste but rather, costs.
The Coffees Used For The Price Comparison Were:
1. The Original Donut Shop Regular Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Medium Roast Coffee, 12 count, Pack of 6.
2. Folgers Classic Roast Ground Coffee, Medium Roast, 30.5 Ounce @ $7.49
3. Kenya coffee roasted at Oceana Roasters, Jupiter FL
4. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Washed Grade 1 Unroasted Green Beans Roasted At Home
5. Starbucks Whole Bean French Roast 1.25 lb @ $11.99 at Walmart
Cost of K Cup Coffee vs Folgers
I’ll state my prejudice up front. I don’t care for K cups I think they make really bad coffee. That being said, I dutifully did my research on K cups and found some fascinating things. Yes, they are very expensive our chart down below will prove it. But there is more to the story.
The Original Donut Shop Decaf Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Medium Roast Coffee, 72 Count
In an interview with Atlantic magazine John Silvan Who invented K cups he made a couple of fascinating statements. The first was “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” at that point in the interview, he was referring to the environmental issues K cups produce. They are not green, or eco-friendly. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” Sylvan told the Atlantic.
I know this article is about the costs of the K cup but environmental factors is one I hadn’t even considered which could be a real deal killer for some people. Coffee grounds are organic and can be be put too many positive uses one so desires.
He followed up the statements on ecology with this “I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” he said. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”
But he gets the appeal. “It’s like a cigarette for coffee,” he said, “a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.” I, personally, wonder if studies are around the proves that coffee consumption goes up the relation of K cup machines. I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute.
Here Is The cost using the best selling “The Original Donut Shop Regular Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Medium Roast Coffee, 12 count, Pack of 6” and “Folgers Classic Roast Ground Coffee, Medium Roast, 30.5 Ounce @ $7.49:
K Cup vs Folgers
Kcup = $0.46
Folgers = $0.11 Folgers is 4 times cheaper Than K cups
Cost of Cafe Roasted Coffee – Kenyan, vs K Cups.
I recently purchased a bag of beans from my local coffee café and roaster. They were Kenyan beans and absolutely delightful.
It was like a fruit bomb going off in my mouth. If you haven’t tried can your coffee yet I strongly suggest you do so. Currently, I only buy coffee from the café to use as a model for my home roasting efforts.
Don’t get me wrong, I drink the coffee but I am trying to emulate the type of roast and color that the professional roaster is getting. We had to adjust the ‘per bag’ price since it was only 12 oz – that adjusts to adjusted to $21.30/lb. Yikes!
Image K cup Vs Cafe Roast.
Here Is The cost using the best selling “The Original Donut Shop Regular Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Medium Roast Coffee, 12 count, Pack of 6” and Kenya coffee roasted at Oceana Roasters, Jupiter FL:
K cup vs Specialty Roast
K Cup = $0.46
Cafe Beans = $0.51 Specialty roasted beans were 10% more than K cups
Cost of Store Bought Starbucks Whole Beans – vs K cups.
I decided to check out the price for a more moderate or upscale be somewhere between the extremely inexpensive Folgers coffee and the super expensive specialty beans roasted at a local micro coffee roaster.
The beans I decided to check out were Starbucks whole beans bought in the grocery store. These are pretty much commonly available anywhere and produce decent cup of coffee. The price of the ground coffee and whole beans is almost identical. I happen to choose the whole beans because I figured some people at least get some enjoyment from grinding their own beans to make a better cup of coffee. In my little world, I believe that a person who is grinding their own beans is just a step away starting to home roast their own beans. At least, I hope so.
So let’s check out where buying middle range to better store-bought coffee it’s in this cost comparison.
Here Is The cost using the best selling Donut Shop Regular Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, vs Stabucks French Roast Whole Bean Coffee.
K Cup vs Starbucks
K Cup = $0.46
Starbucks = $0.24 Starbucks came in at almost half the price of K cups.
Cost of Home Roasted Yirgacheffe Grade 1 Beans- vs K cup
As you might guess from a blog called home coffee roasting basics this is our preferred method of preparing coffee beans and drinking coffee. I do it for the hobby, the taste, and the satisfaction. Many people roast their own beans and a primary reason because it is very economical.
The only thing that ended up being cheaper was store-bought Folgers coffee. To me, that is money just thrown out the window. I would like to spend a little bit more and get the custom roasted coffee that I prefer.
I decided to check out the price for Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Washed Grade 1 Unroasted Green Beans which I actually roast at home as a good standard coffee bean. The cost for 5lbs was $32 = $6.40 per pound. We lose 15% of the weight of the beans due to moisture lost during roasting so that was factored in giving us a raw bean cost of $7.60/lb
Here Is The cost using Yirgacheffe home roasted beans vs K Cups, vs Stabucks French Roast Whole Bean Coffee.
K Cup vs Home Roasted Beans
K Cup = $0.46
Home Roasted = $0.19 Home roasted coffee was only 40% the cost of K cups.
Conclusion: Cost of K Cups vs Store Bought Beans, Folgers, Home Roasted And Specialty Roasted Beans
Here are the costs/ 8 ounce cup:
$0.51 per cup Specialty beans from my local roaster
$0.46 per cup using K cups
$0.24 per cup making Starbucks at home
$0.19 per cup home roasting beans.
$0.11 per cup using Folgers
We hope you enjoyed this post. There were some interesting conclusions to be drawn from the data.
Firstly, I knew that my specialty café roasted beans would be very expensive. But, in reality they only cost 10% more per serving than donut time K cups. That is definitely a price trade-off I’d be willing to pay once in a while.
But, as you see it’s really expensive drink coffee on a regular basis that way. So for me it will remain a special treat.
I was also surprised the fact that Folgers coffee is the bestseller on Amazon. In my opinion, it is terrible. But, I believe the best thing it has going for it is that it is incredibly cheap. It doesn’t come as any surprise that there are many people who want something that tastes like coffee is hot and it’s very cheap.
My final comment is the fact that buying Starbucks whole beans in a grocery store is not incredibly expensive.
I don’t believe you are getting the freshness of beans roasting your local café or home roasted, but they are a huge step up canned coffee such as Maxwell House or Folgers. I can see this as being a very viable option for people who are not quite ready to get into home roasting coffee and don’t want to go to the bother going to a specialty micro coffee roaster.
If you are going to go that route, in the strongest possible terms I suggest you buy your coffee as whole beans and grind it as needed to get the best flavor.
Wishing you the best in your coffee adventures,
I hope you enjoyed this article.
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