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calendar   Saturday - January 08, 2011

K-Cup Koffee?

I likes me my coffee. My usual brand is the Caribe blend, a latino style espresso that comes in a 10oz brick. Cheapest coffee on the market, but makes a nice robust, low acid cuppa when made at regular strength. I don’t make it as espresso, merely as good strong coffee. It doesn’t seem to have much longevity in the pot - it goes stale quickly - so I make up just enough for 2 mugs for me and 1 cup for her. So I don’t care too much about longevity either - those 2 mugs are gone in half an hour.


My wife’s office has one of those fancy Keurig coffee machines that take the little “k-cup” cartridge “pods” of pre-packaged coffee portions, so it makes every cup fresh and exactly the same. They had it out in the waiting room for the patients. She’s always going on about how wonderful it is, mainly because it only takes a minute to brew a mug’s worth, and because the little k-cups come in so darn many varieties, and she loves all the fancy-nancy flavors.

So anyway, the folks at the office used their machine daily for 2 years and then it stopped working. Turns out they never once cleaned out the machine, or ran some white vinegar through it to de-scale the pot. She brings it home Friday and wonders if I can do anything with it. Um, thanks. I’ll look at it Saturday.

So today I went and got a gallon of cheap white vinegar and filled up the tank, wiped down the little gizmo that holds the k-cups in place, cleaned out the needles, and went over the whole pot with some detergent in a sponge, followed by a rinse and then a wipe down with rubbing alcohol. Used a toothpick and a Q-tips for all the nooks and crannies. That got every last bit of dirt, grease, and old coffee grime off the pot. I then stood there in front of the machine and ran a gallon of vinegar through this machine one mug at a time ... and then, WTH, ran it through my old Mr. Coffee pot as well, with a filter to catch any bits. 13 mugs worth. Put the hot vinegar outside for 10 minutes to cool, then ran it through both machines again. The Keurig’s instructions say to leave the machine in standby mode for 4 hours, then to run several tanks of fresh water through it. That gives the vinegar plenty of time to clean out the inner water holding tank, and then get everything rinsed clean.

While I was waiting, I looked up any issues with the machine online, and found out 2 ways to reboot the unit when things go wrong: one complex method that is the coffeepot version of the old “Ctrl-Alt_Del”, the other method tells you where to smack the machine to make it go. I like that one the best!

So I do all that cleaning and rinsing, and now the pot works perfectly, no whacking or rebooting necessary. Here you are honey, take it back to work. “Oh, no, I don’t have to. They said they’re ordering a new pot anyway since this one was broken, so if you could make this work we could keep it.”

rolleyes  Great! Hey, if they can afford to throw away money that easily, maybe they can afford to give you a raise! rolleyes


So now I have a fancy-do $150 coffee pot, that works just as well as my $15 coffee pot.

These things are kind of popular, so I’m sure several of my readers have them. Can you tell me if they make economic sense? Or if the taste is so superior that the extra cost is justified? Or they even save time? I’m not going to leave this thing in 1500 watt power eating “standby” mode all day; I’ll turn it on in the AM, give it 3 minutes to warm up, crank out 3 or 4 cups of coffee, then turn it off. That’s about how long it takes my regular pot to brew things up.

I’m going through about 8 “8-cup” pots (ie 4 mugs worth per pot) of coffee a week, which uses no more than 1 10 ounce $1.99 brick of Caribe. I think that works out to 6.2¢ per mug. Once in a while I’ll have some of the flavored decaf the wife sometimes makes in the evening, but most of the time I avoid both decaf and flavored coffees. Are these k-cup things sold in real bulk (500) so that the price comes down?

PS: old guy rant: It sucks arabica beans that we’ve been downsized so damn many times that a “pound” of coffee now only weighs 10 or 11 ounces. And a “cup” is now somewhere between 4 and 6 ounces. GTFOH. No. NO! Sorry, a pound is 16 ounces, and it fits in exactly the same size can as the 11 ounces they sell today. And a cup is 8 ounces, even though almost everyone in America drinks coffee by the mugful, and that’s a 12 ounce pour. Sure, we’re using more coffee than ever before, and drinking better coffee than ever before: today’s Mr. Coffee style drip pots use more grinds per cup than the old school percolators. They also make a better tasting cup because the water isn’t boiled through the grinds endlessly. But there is no coffee shortage. We’re just getting screwed over by the industry, and they’re trying to hide that by downsizing the packaging and by downsizing the serving size. That way we “won’t” notice that the stuff that used to cost 85¢ per pound now costs $8 per pound.

PPS - one thing that I do like about this Keurig machine is that it has adjustable water temperature. You can set it for a maximum of 192°F, and actually get a hot cup of coffee. Neither McDonald’s nor Mr. Coffee will do that for you these days.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/08/2011 at 01:21 PM   
Filed Under: • Fine-DiningHigh Tech •  
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