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The New York Times writes about how, when it comes to single-serve coffee systems, “you’re not just paying for coffee, you’re paying for convenience and the technology that makes it possible to brew a single cup in seconds. Pop in the pod, push the button: it’s a sure thing every time.”

However, there is a cost for all that convenience and certainty. The Times points out that “the Nespresso Arpeggio costs $5.70 for 10 espresso capsules, while the Folgers Black Silk blend for a K-Cup brewed-coffee machine is $10.69 for 12 pods. But that Nespresso capsule contains 5 grams of coffee, so it costs about $51 a pound. And the Folgers, with 8 grams per capsule, works out to more than $50 a pound.”

Compare that to bagged coffee costs that range from the ridiculous to the sublime: “An exclusive single-origin espresso like the Ethiopia, Gedeo Single Origin Espresso from Sightglass Coffee costs $19 for a 12-ounce bag, or about $25 a pound. La Cima beans for brewed coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Grand Cru selection grown at Finca el Injerto, a renowned farm in Guatemala, is $28.50 for a 12-ounce bag, or $38 a pound. In fact, most high-end coffees cost less than $20 a pound, and the coffees you find on supermarket shelves are substantially cheaper. A bag of Dark Espresso Roast beans at Starbucks is $12.95 a pound, and a bag of Eight O’Clock beans for brewed coffee at the Food Emporium is $10.72 a pound.”

The Times goes on to report that “the premium that single-serve coffee commands makes it especially lucrative. Julian Liew, a spokesman for Nespresso, said single-serve coffee is 8 percent of the global market, but accounts for 25 percent of its value. It’s likely that the number will continue to climb.

“According to Keurig, 4 million of the company’s K-Cup brewers, for regular drip coffee, were sold in the 13-week run-up to Christmas 2011. During that same period, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters sold more than $715 million in K-Cup packs. The pods and brewers are now front and center at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Staples. Keurig licenses its technology to other companies, and last year, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks started making K-Cup pods. Keurig even sells a refillable filter that you can pack with your own coffee.”
KC's View:
The suggestion here is that because Walmart is going to begin selling a more value-oriented single-serve coffee maker, we could be in for a price war in this burgeoning category.

Tell you one thing, makes me glad I haven’t switched from my old standby - pound bags of Starbucks Verona, twelve bucks a pound. I don’t think I can afford the single-serve technology, especially because I drink about a gallon of coffee each morning...