Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Rant

I've had a rant simmering for a week or more. I resisted because it was Thanksgiving week and I knew I should be thankful, not ranting. And I am thankful, for my wonderful husband, the farm, family and friends, my connections with the Sisters, a good and secure job, great food, and these days most immediately and consciously for a garage to put my car in each night!

However, what has really been bothering me is the sudden appearance of the Keurig single-cup coffee maker. Where the heck did this thing come from?? Why is it so popular?? People all over are spending over $100 for a new coffeemaker and buying these ridiculous plastic cups of coffee that are being produced by every coffee company in the world (it seems).

It just seems like a huge step backwards, in terms of recycling and simple living. While people are working very hard to eliminate plastic water bottles from the system, here comes a new source of plastic garbage. When people are working to get folks to purchase fair trade coffee and make life better for coffee growers around the world, here comes a way to jack up prices for those who need and deserve it least in the production chain. I just can't get my head around it.

Now, of course, I shouldn't talk, since I was most outraged as I was walking past the display of K-cups and brewers at Kohl's on my way to buy a brand spankin' new red KitchenAid mixer. I am certainly no model of anti-consumerism. This just annoys me to no end. I wonder if it is what passes for "innovation" in this country, and getting our economy back on track. More products for the masses that they don't need! I wish people would save their $169 toward something more useful or transforming... if not a solar panel, maybe a nice raised garden bed!


Sarah Reynolds said...

Here, here! We had one of these for a "trial run" at work. I don't drink coffee, so, I never understood the "allure". It killed me that there was so much waste. They decided not to keep it. Mainly due to cost. PHEW

Susan Sink said...

Sarah, what really got me going was when I heard at least two offices (admissions and development) at the college here had them. And they've also this year put in place a full-time Sustainability position as advisor to the president of the college... it just kills me! (They also bought the Sustainability person a really cute smart car to drive-- I guess-- around campus and I've never seen it leave its parking space!!)

Mark Duffield said...

I'm with you, Susan. We have this kind of coffee maker at the office (and have had for several years now). They make passable coffee, but the packaging is so wasteful.

I think that there are several reasons for their popularity. First, it allows everyone to have a different flavor or variety of coffee. Second, and probably more significantly, is that now noone has to tend to the coffee pot. In the first office I worked in after Grinnell and up through I'd say about 2000 if you went into the coffee area and you found the coffee pot empty, the expectation was that you would make a new pot. That involved work (cleaning the pot, emptying and cleaning the filter, etc). Once the coffee was done, you took a cup and moved on. With the advent of the single cup coffee maker, this job has been eliminated. Immediate gratification with none of the mess.

Personally, I didn't mind making the coffee. I actually liked the fact that I needed to hang out until the coffee was ready. And if I was the person who had to make it, then I could make it to the strength that I liked.

The interesting thing in our office this year was the disappearance of paper cups for the coffee. Instead they gave everyone a plastic mug with a cover. One issue with them is that you can't put them in the microwave. Another is the fact that they are plastic and not ceramic. I continue to use my ceramic mug.

Susan, I hope you had a great thanksgiving, and that you had a chance to take that new mixer for a spin. I thought of you when I pulled my KitchenAid out on Wednesday.

Susan Sink said...

Thanks, Mark! It was a great weekend... I broke in the KitchenAid on my curried yams for Thanksgiving. It was a dream!!

re: your comment, there are too more things I'm against: 1) CHOICE and 2) EFFICIENCY.

I read a little too much Wendell Berry this weekend...

linf said...

I suppose the idea of coffee really never appealed to me so when all the designer coffees became in vogue it was a real head scratcher! But at 46 I guess I like my popcorn buttered, cheddared, or carmelized...would not know what to do with bubble gum flavored popcorn or popcorn flavored jelly beans. However, I would not argue with the paycheck that came from designing hoity toity implements. I'll leave it in the words of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton "But can it core a apple?"