Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Coffee time?

As anyone who’s been in my home for a meal knows quite well, I’m not much when it comes to coffee.

Other than an occasional cup o’ joe when I’m out, or, more usually, a cappuccino, I don’t drink coffee. Hot coffee, that is. I like nothing better than popping into Dunk’s on a hot summer day and getting a big old ice coffee for myself.

I don’t know why I never developed a coffee habit, as I like the flavor (and love the aroma) just fine. But somewhere along the way I became a tea drinker.

My parents did drink coffee, but they were just as apt to drink tea. My first cups of tea, however, were at my grandmother’s house, as that was the beverage of choice at Nanny’s, served even to children – milky and sweet, the Irish way.

I went to a Catholic women’s college, where the ethnic makeup was largely Irish Catholic. We were told by the food service provider that we were the only college with a cafeteria system run by them where the students drank more tea than coffee.

When I go to Ireland, one of the great pleasures is going into a pub and ordering a cup of tea and not being looked at like you have two heads. (Of course, it’s also a great pleasure to order a Guinness or a Bailey’s on ice.)

I do have a coffee maker (courtesy of my sister Kath), and a coffee press (courtesy of my sister Trish), but they are used pretty much only when Kath or Trish is around to do the honors. Coffee is whatever’s in the freezer.

My husband was a coffee drinker of sorts, but he was content with a spoonful of instant added to a cup of microwaved water.

Occasionally, I consider getting myself a Keurig, which would at least let me offer guests a decent cup of coffee, with their flavor and caffeination-level of choice. What’s held me back is largely inertia. But it’s partially the thought of all those little plastic cups making their way into landfill, or – worse – into one of those big garbage sludge islands floating around an ocean.

Last year, more than 9 billion of those K-Cups made their way into the trash-o-system. None of them lent themselves to being recycled.

This inconvenient fact has provoked a decade of hand-wringing within the company [Green Mountain, which acquired Keurig in 2006] and discontent among consumers. Placed end to end, the pods sold in a year would circle the globe roughly 10 times. Concerns among environmentalists are mounting, and sales growth is slowing. (Source: Boston Globe)

But they’re doing something about it, and will soon be selling K-Cups “made of material that is easily recycled.”

Unfortunately, those new cups are not compostable. Nor are they reusable. And those are, apparently, the environmental gold standard (to the silver or bronze of mere recyclable). Bottom line, those K-Cups will still be plastic. (Wasn’t it just yesterday – or maybe 50 years ago – when the cocktail party guy was advising young Benjamin in The Graduate to consider a career in plastics?)

And though Keurig’s new K-Cups might not mollify all of its critics, the company says it is trying its best. “When you look at the trends toward single-serve generally, you can either villainize it, or you can fix it,” said Monique Oxender, Keurig’s chief sustainability officer. “We’re trying to fix it.”

I’m with Ms. Oxender. Better to fix than to “villainize”.

I’ll be on the lookout for the release of the new, recyclable K-Cups. This may be enough to get me off the dime on a Keurig.

Let the coffee mugging begin!

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