Those Wasteful K-Cups Are Cutting Down on ... Waste

American coffee consumption expected to fall for first time in 6 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2015 7:15 AM CDT
Those Wasteful K-Cups Are Cutting Down on ... Waste
A Keurig Classic Single-Cup brewer and Green Mountain Coffee's 12-count K-Cup package.   (Photo: Business Wire)

Keurig’s non-recyclable K-Cups are no friend of the environment. In fact, the inventor of the single-serve coffee pods refuses to use them. But a new USDA report shows they aren't all bad: Surprisingly, K-Cups actually help users to be less wasteful. Rather than guessing how much coffee to put in a filter, then dumping the remains of a pot down the drain, people are brewing only the coffee they drink, Reuters reports. "People used to make a pot of coffee, now they make a cup," says the owner of a California-based roaster. "Right there we're losing the sink as a consumer." The effects are actually pretty huge. For the first time in six years, American coffee consumption is expected to fall by more than 1%, from 24 million 60kg bags in the 12-month period ending in September to 23.7 million bags in 2015-2016, reports the Washington Post. That equals about 1.85 cups of coffee per person per day.

While an aging population plays a role in the decline, so do single-serve brewers. At least one in four US homes now has one, an increase of 15% since last year, according to the National Coffee Association—though the machines are less popular abroad. That might explain why the US is the only one of the top eight coffee-consuming countries to suddenly drink less, though countries including South Korea, Thailand, Switzerland, and Colombia will also cut their consumption this season. The global coffee demand, however, is expected to climb by nearly 2 million bags to 147.6 million. Some less-welcome news: Americans may be drinking less coffee, but we’re spending more than ever: a record $11.9 billion in 2014. That figure will reportedly climb to $12.8 billion this year and $13.6 billion in 2016, Reuters reports. (Keurig recently admitted another K-Cup fail.)

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