Thanks for coming back for another edition of Telos Financial’s blog where I discuss different financial planning topics. The purpose of the blog is to introduce financial planning concepts and questions I receive from clients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions about that will help improve your financial life. One more way to help serve the purpose of my firm, helping you focus on your telos!

I love coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. I should mention that I really LOVE coffee. So, I’m generally picky about coffee. I also use a Keurig machine, not because I love the coffee it produces, but because they are just so dang convenient for certain situations. I use mine in my office when a client wants coffee; it’s fresh, it’s easy, & it’s fairly quick.

I like these types of machines because they are a good fit for certain situations. The biggest thing I like about a Keurig or other single serve machine is you can easily make one cup at a time with relatively little hassle. It’s nice that there’s relatively little cleanup or maintenance as well.

There are a lot of things I don’t like about them. First on my list is the environmental factor. The vast majority of coffee made through these is in little plastic cups with foil lids that get thrown in a landfill. I deplore the idea of that. For something so fantastic as coffee to be leaving such a large footprint is terrible. I purchase compostable containers when I use these machines. There’s actually a local coffee roaster less than 35 miles away from my office that makes K cups in a biodegradable cup. That, I actually like. I also share a machine with a few other offices, to minimizes the waste as well.

The problem of all the plastic created is becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. It’s estimated that there has been eight trillion tons of plastic manufactured since it was invented and it’s now being found in fish, sea salt, water, and beer. The long-term effects of this have yet to be revealed, but at a minimum, it’s changing the composition of things and is already bigger than anyone imagined when it was created.

There are problems with the compostable containers as well; they’re more expensive, they are more difficult to keep fresh since they’re not in a sealed container, and there aren’t as many varieties. I keep mine in an airtight container to preserve freshness and I don’t use my single cup brewer that frequently, so the price is well worth it for me to have a container that will pretty quickly return to the earth.

The other thing I do to avoid the disposable cups and stale coffee is to use a reusable filter cup. I can grind my own beans and with the reusable cup, I compost the spent grinds, no waste. Win win! No unnecessary plastic in the dump or oceans and fresh coffee.

The next thing I don’t like about these types of machines is the cost. I am a financial advisor after all. . . These machines very rarely make financial sense. The only win as a convenience play. Let’s look at a quick example. Ignoring the cost of machinery, a Keurig versus a drip brewer because there is such variance in pricing and you can find more or less expensive machines on both sides. Let’s say you buy some fancy coffee, let’s say $15/pound for purposes of this discussion. The yield from a bag of coffee varies based on strength of course, but a quick online search shows opinions ranging from 34 to 144 cups at eight ounces each, the most common one I saw is around 48 cups, so we’ll use that again for sake of argument (though I feel like I get many more than that. . .). At a $15/pound that comes out to $0.32 per cup of coffee. Now, there are K cups available at a lower price, but the vast majority of these are $0.50 or more per cup, especially if you’re into premium coffees (apples to apples).

For my home use coffee, I buy bulk Costco single origin roasts that cost less than $5/pound, so just over $0.10 per cup using the same yield assumptions. That doesn’t include filters, but they are marginal.

For this blog, there’s not time to go into the other types of these single serve coffee makers that may produce better coffee, but are they tend to be more expensive as well. So, I’ve never used them, again just based on the amount of waste they create.

The next thing I don’t like about these is the coffee. I personally don’t think the coffee produced by these is that good. I have a brewer that gets the water really hot and use a burr grinder to fresh grind beans and I believe that gives me a great cup of joe. This, of course, is subjective, but that’s my personal opinion.

CONCLUSION:
The bottom line here is if you value convenience and don’t drink much coffee, these may be an okay solution. If you have two young children, tend to stay up all night with them, and require coffee to function like me, it’s probably not the best choice or the most economical. It’s a personal decision, but it’s not for me.

If you are working on your budget, this may be an area you can cut back. Take out fancy coffees can be a much bigger line item, but if you’re trying to work your budget tighter, this may be an area that will help you. For now, I’ll continue to use my compostable k cups in my office, but the bulk of my coffee consumption comes my home coffee maker.

Is a different coffee maker right for you? Is coffee an area of your budget you can carve out some savings? You’ll have to decide for yourself. If you’d like professional help with your budgeting, financial planning, investments, or other financial related matters, I would love the opportunity to talk with you and review your situation.

Dennis LaVoy is a the financial advisor in Michigan for Millennials, Xennials Generation Xers, & young professionals. Telos Financial is a fee based firm providing holistic financial planning in Plymouth, Michigan serving young professionals and families. Dennis LaVoy, CFP®, CLU® founded Telos to use his experience, knowledge, and expertise to help families. Dennis is the financial advisor in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and across the country helping families create, follow, and track their financial goals.

This is my blog, so it goes without saying that the views expressed are my own opinions and will not apply to every situation. Your situation may vary so make sure to consult a professional for advice prior to making any decisions.