Step Five: Consumption

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Once purchased from a retail or grocery store, K-Cup® consumption is categorized by use in a Keurig® brewing system. Energy and water are both used in brewing a K-Cup® pod. The filtered pods fit into Keurig® machines, and water flows through them to create a single cup of the desired beverage: coffee, hot chocolate, or tea. It is estimated that this single-cup setup saves up to 6.6 gallons of water when compared to making a full pot of coffee, when considering the water required to grow, process, and brew coffee beans (Creating Sustainable Products). About 12 to 15% of brewed batch coffee is thrown away before being consumed, so single-cup brewing can minimize coffee waste from cultivation to brewing (Creating Sustainable Products).

Keurig® brewing systems and the use of K-Cups® first became popular in office buildings. Now, entire rows in grocery stores (as seen in the photo above) are dedicated to packs of various K-Cup® flavors because single-cup brewing machines can now be found in millions of households. Other companies such as Panera Bread have even created single-cup pods for their own coffee products. K-Cups® have had significant social impacts, because not only are they constantly growing in demand, but they are also very expensive. K-Cups® cost 2 to 3 times more per cup than traditionally brewed coffee and consumers could save approximately $400 a year by brewing batch coffee in a pot instead of purchasing K-Cups® (Tuttle 2015). Because of the convenience of Keurig® machines and large variety of K-Cup® flavors, consumers are overlooking the inflated price for coffee products. Keurig® machines have become a highly desired commodity, and in turn K-Cup® sales have sky-rocketed. Even though it isn’t difficult to make a traditional pot of coffee, the ease of inserting a K-Cup® into a machine and pushing one button to get a single cup of coffee has driven consumers to double or even triple their expenses for an everyday beverage. The K-Cup® takeover is a clear example of the widespread social belief that Americans are always in a rush. United States culture is driven more and more by a desire to get everything done as quickly as possible. Even something as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning has transformed into just another daily activity to complete with haste.

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