Our caffeine starved brains are bad at math. When I say ‘math’ I’m not picking on a lack of calculus skills or the inability to factor polynomial equations. No, never, nope. Advanced mathematics don’t help me much in the coffee aisle at the grocery store.

What gives me the ‘Consumer Sads’ when it comes to math is our collective stupidity with simple addition and subtraction. You know, the oft-forgotten plus ‘+’ and minus ‘-‘ signs used across all branches of mathematics? Those crazy uncomplicated symbols can save you a fortune when used by your brain before spending money.

To give your brain a buzz worthy of a caffeine hit, I’m adding up the crazy cost of Keurig’s K-Cups to save you some serious cash on coffee. I’ll also show you why I like math.

Related: Make a Starbucks Frappuccino for 32 cents

Save 41 cents a cuppa by switching to a reusable filter

A 2-pack of Brew & Save Refillable K-Cups can be found for around $12 in both the US and Canada. That’s a small drop in the coffee budget bucket when compared to the ongoing cost of using disposable K-Cups.

Brew Save Keurig

I went shopping and compared the cost of buying Starbucks French Roast Ground Coffee in a reusable K-Cup filter with Starbucks French Roast K-Cups. Simple math, people.

keurig kcup coffee

What this Price Check Compares:

  • Ground Coffee: Since disposable K-Cups only contain ground coffee, this post only compares the cost of ground coffee. Apples to apples, people. If you find a disposable K-Cup full of whole beans in need of grinding I’ll happily write an update.
  • Equipment and supply cost? I’m not adding the cost of a K-Cup reusable filter to this caffeinated equation. I’m not including the cost of a Keurig coffee machine, electricity used, water consumed, cream and sugar added, or wasted grounds spilled either. Just ground coffee.
  • Cost of competing systems? The variety of single-serve coffee machines on the market likely reflects the lucrative nature of selling ground coffee in K-Cups, Discs, and Capsules. There’s the Nespresso system, the Tassimo brewer, and of course the Keurig machine. I’m only comparing the cost of Keurig’s K-Cups to ground coffee.

keurig coffee cost

Bottom Line: Save a tasty 41 cents per cuppa by skipping the disposable and highly packaged K-Cups and switching to ground coffee brewed in a reusable K-Cup filter. Brewing two cups a day with a reusable K-Cup filter saves you $299.30 per year.

Sure, saving cash is sweet. But what about the (in)convenience of filling a reusable filter?

How convenient is filling a reusable filter?

Popping a pricey K-Cup in a Keurig coffee machine is super simple, right? The convenience alone is the real reason Green Mountain Coffee Roasters sold four million Keurig brewers over the three months leading up to Christmas 2011, with just over $715-million in K-Cup packs sold during this period.

So how onerous is it to fill a reusable filter with ground coffee? I created a Vine to demonstrate the coffee-making process.

Bottom Line: I can fill a reusable K-Cup filter with ground coffee in under 6 seconds. Therefore the process is not onerous and I’m still saving 41 cents a cuppa.

What’s inside a single serve coffee pod?

Being a smarter consumer is the prime directive of this blog. Being a smarter citizen of this big gorgeous orb circling the solar system is a prime directive too. I’m reminded of our shared need of living on this orb every time I walk down the coffee aisle in my grocery store.

Talk a walk with me. What do you see?

coffee pods

Shelves and shelves and more shelves stocked full of single serve coffee pods. Once brewed, where do all those pods go?

kcup garbage

Mother Jones has the answer. In Your Coffee Pods’ Dirty Secret, MoJo does some alarming math and calculates that all of the K-Cups sold in 2013 would wrap around the Earth 10.5 times.

Our coffee habits are leaving a big hug of garbage wrapped around the planet. I do love hugs, but that’s not the kind of grip I want to leave the youngins when I’m gone.

Bottom Line: The solution is simple. Buy an inexpensive reusable K-Cup filter to reduce garbage growth, and you’ll still save 41 cents a cuppa!

So where am I going with this?

K-Cups are the new stupid tax. Not only are you over paying for ground coffee, but you’re taxing the environment every time you pop a disposable pod into your brewer.

kcup keurig reusable filter

Eventually this math is going to catch up with us. When simple addition and subtraction reveal I’ll save money by brewing with a reusable filter while reducing my environmental footprint, I have to wonder why we’re all buying disposable coffee pods?

It’s not inconvenient to fill a reusable filter. The brewed grounds can be composted. My brain still buzzes from the brew created from bagged ground coffee.



So let’s do this, people. Make the switch, save some cash, and hug the planet. Now that’s my kind of math.