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Drinking In ‘Coffee for One’


Since writing about K-Cups back in 2013, I’ve been curious to understand how this coffee system became so dominant.

KJ Fallon has obliged my curiosity by writing Coffee for One.

Coffee from K-Cups is different in two crucial ways from traditionally brewed coffee. First, single serve coffee is super expensive compared to brewed coffee, with each cup costing the equivalent of around $50 per pound. Second, single serve coffee, or at least the coffee that comes out of the Keurig machines at my work and my house, is of lower quality and tastes worse than a freshly ground specialty coffee.

So how did a product that is both more expensive and of worse quality become so dominant?

If you are of a mind to connect every damn unrelated thing (and every book) to higher ed, then what does the dominance of the single serve coffee system say about the future of higher education?

Coffee for One does an excellent job of answering the first question – the coffee question. For some strange reason, Fallon is stubbornly silent on the meaning of K-Cups to higher ed.

The reason that so many of getting our coffee hit from single serve coffee pods is that we are a nation of caffeine addicts. A Keurig machine is an efficient drug delivery system.

Keurig started life as a scrappy startup in 1992, before being acquired by Green Mountain and then swallowed up for $14 billion in 2016 by JAB holdings in 2016.  As late as 2000 only a negligible percentage of all US coffee sales came from single-serve pods. By 2015, about a third of coffee sales for single-serve pods, and the vast majority of those were K-Cups.

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