Stop the Madness

This year we had a death in our family.  It was sad.  He had been with us for about seven or eight years, and always faithful, consistent and reassuring.  It wasn’t a pet, it was our coffeemaker.

Despite now having reached a new level of awareness, my husband and I have often been victims of falling for the “newest thing”.   This includes one of those press one button, pod, instant coffee machines. Our machine of choice was the Tassimo. Yes, we know we basically chose the laser disk of the coffee pod machine world, but we were loyal and committed, even as Keurig began to take over the world and Tassimo pods were harder and harder to obtain.  Plus, the Tassimo made cappuccinos and caramel macchiatos, which the Keurig never did (and still does not!).

We originally converted from a regular coffee maker to the Tassimo because only my husband was drinking coffee and he wanted a single serve machine that was convenient and low fuss. And it truly was convenient and low fuss. I mean, how easy: choose pod, insert pod, push button and voila, instant, good coffee for one person. As time went on, though, we realized that it was an expensive habit.  A package of regular coffee, with 16 servings would run about ten bucks, maybe less if you had a coupon, and many packages, especially of the larger servings had fewer pods. So if my husband wanted two cups of coffee a day, we would be spending close to $40 a month…on coffee.  If I spent that much on Starbucks a month, I can assure you my husband would have given me a talking to.

But that was only one aspect. We were also aware of how much we were throwing away with each serving of coffee. Sometimes I would remove the coffee to feed to my worms, but that was tedious and I was still throwing away the pod. Yes, once again here we are telling you what you should do, only after we splurged on what you shouldn’t do…we’re like your parents in that way. But as much as we hate to admit it, parents know what they’re talking about, right?

Still, we didn’t want to spend money on a new coffee maker when the Tassimo was still working. And we didn’t really know in what direction to go, so we just kept using it. It was almost a blessing when it started to crap out. Though, being conscientious, we tried quick fixes we found on the internet.  They worked! And Tassimo gained another eight months of life.

In the end, though, we decided when the last round of expensive coffee was done with, we would retire the Tassimo.  We spent a long time researching our options. My husband still wanted a coffee maker that would only make one cup at a time and now we had a new goal of not generating pod waste every day. Consequently, we wanted a machine where we would be able use our own coffee.

At this point we seriously considered a keurig or a keurig compatible machine, which honestly was, like, 99.9% of the single brew market. (Completely made up number.) There were so many options and brands, too.  With many styles you could buy your own K-cup and use your own coffee.  Plus you could always splurge on one of the billion flavors of coffees, teas, and hot chocolates in pods–you know, if you were into that kind of waste. Let’s not pretend I would be above that. We thought for sure we would end up with a Keurig, or K-cup compatible machine…I mean, really, do they make any others? Why, yes, they do.

We decided on the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker. http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-Single-Serve-Coffee/dp/B005GUGBS4.  It is everything we wanted in a coffee maker.  Convenient, single-serve, very reasonably priced and we can use our own coffee.

With my husband as the judge, it makes a really good cup of coffee. And there is nothing to throw away but the grounds.  It has a double filter system which they advise you clean out after every use.  Amazingly, my husband does this step, which really just amounts to rinsing out the grounds and occasionally giving it a good rub with the sponge. Easy enough. Some reviews complained about excessive splashing on the backsplash, but that is because they either didn’t realize or were to lazy to move the platform up.  It adjusts for your cup/mug.  It can accommodate any size mug, and most normal sized travel cups. This was actually something annoying about the Tassimo.  It did not fit many of our mugs, and none of our travel mugs. The Hamilton Beach Scoop only has two options, regular and bold, hence two buttons.  This is a definite advantage over the Keurig machines since I think their machines are often confusing and difficult to maneuver–and I am no button-maneuvering slouch.  I know my way around buttons and menus, and Keurigs are plain tricky. This machine takes the “choices” out of the equation.  You only get the amount of water out that you put in and you measure a the coffee in your scoop according to your preference.  It may take a couple of cups to get it perfect, but even your trial runs will net a pretty good cup of coffee.

Because you are brewing your own grounds, this machine could still work for a large family or a fanatic coffee drinker. There is the extra step of rinsing out the scoops, but 1) it’s easy and 2) they actually give you two of them. So everyone can have the exact cup of coffee they want.  I like flavors, my husband doesn’t, now it’s a win-win. An six ounce cup of coffee is plenty for me and he wouldn’t mind drinking a 16 oz cup.  We can both have it to order and the coffee doesn’t have to sit around to thicken like office coffee if we’re on different schedules.

Just to be clear, my snobbery does not override my common sense. We did not resist a K-cup machine just because we had been loyal to the underdog, Tassimo, but also because the reviews for the re-usable filters were pretty unfavorable.  Plus the machines themselves were much more expensive.

Now, instead of spending $40 a month on coffee, we are spending around $15.  We still buy good coffee, like Starbuck, Gevalia and Caribou Coffee brands. Incidentally, have you noticed how they now sell coffee in 10 oz and 12 oz instead of a pound? Sneaky marketing bastards. We could spend even less money and get cheaper coffee, but let’s not be too hasty.

It doesn’t do espresso…but then again, neither does the Keurig  (though the pricey Starbucks Verissimo does.)  It just makes a solid, consistent cup of coffee that meets our goals of being less expensive and producing less waste.

One last thing, to try to decrease the amount of waste we would generate by disposing of the Tassimo (it wasn’t in good working order, if you recall) we gutted the Tassimo and listed the parts on ebay.  This idea may have been a few years too late.  We still have all the parts.  But at least it made me feel a little better about throwing away the entire thing.

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