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Is it cheaper to have a Keurig or a standard coffee maker?

Find out if a Keurig is cheaper in the long run

Italian coffee capsules.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Coffee is the lifeblood of millions, if not billions, of people globally. That’s why the coffee industry, as a whole, is valued at over $100 billion worldwide. However, most of us who are contributing to those profits are not benefiting from them. So, we need to know the best ways to save money on our coffee habits.

So, today, we’re asking the question: “Does Keurig coffee pods cost make owing a Keurig worth it?” — because you might be wondering if it’s cheaper to have a Keurig coffee maker or a standard drip coffee maker. The answer to that question is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer. There are dozens of different factors to consider regarding the overall cost of your daily cup of coffee.

A person making coffee at an industrial coffee machine.
Chevanon Photography / Pexels

How much coffee do you drink?

First and foremost, the amount of coffee you drink every day will be critical in determining the best and cheapest way to make your own coffee at home. Obviously, the more coffee that you drink, the more you’re going to spend annually feeding your caffeine habit. For the sake of this post, let’s say you’re a heavy coffee drinker, meaning you drink three or more cups of coffee a day. The next question you must ask yourself is, are you trying to mess around with coffee beans to produce coffee grounds? Or do you want to go the easy route?

The Keurig K-Express Essentials coffee maker pouring into a blue mug.

Do you prefer convenience or price?

Ultimately, the most significant benefit of owning a Keurig is the convenience of brewing a hot cup of coffee from a pre-measured pod in seconds. Suppose this is an essential feature for you. In that case, this is the most costly part of owning a Keurig coffee machine or even a K-Cup-compatible machine. You can normally find a budget Keurig coffee machine deal for a great price.

Keurig: When it comes to K-Cup prices, based on prices on Amazon, K-Cups can range from 25 to 50 cents per pod for budget coffee to $1.25 and higher per pod for the fancy stuff. On average, most cups fall in the 60-cent-per-pod range. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker and drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day, that’s $657 to $876 on K-Cups per year.

Coffee maker: If we look at ground coffee, a 12-ounce bag of coffee based on 3-4 cups a day should last around 10-14 days. That means 24 bags of coffee a year. The prices of a 12-ounce bag can vary widely depending on the blend and origin. Using an average price of $12 per bag, that’s around $288 annually for coffee. Compared to the cost of K-Cups, that’s a pretty hefty savings.

Man in blue sweater making cup of coffee
Igor Haritanovich / Pexels

What are your preferred brewing methods?

So maybe at those prices, K-Cups may be off the table for you. That still doesn’t mean that a Keurig isn’t the right machine for you. There are a number of reusable inserts designed to work in the Keurig. You just fill them with your favorite coffee and go. These are available on Amazon from about $1.50 per insert and up.

Using these inserts means a bit more dumping and scooping of grounds, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Keurig also makes great carafe-style coffee makers. Whether you prefer single-cup, carafe brewers, or a combination of both will determine the coffee maker options available to you.

Weiner dog with a coffee mug
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Are you a coffee snob?

Now that we’ve determined that buying and grinding your own coffee is the cheaper route, you have to ask yourself one last question. Do you consider yourself a coffee snob? If you do, you’re probably willing to drop more money on coffee and a highly rated combination coffee maker with many fancy features. If this applies to you, whether you buy a Keurig or a regular coffee maker, you’re looking at spending $100 to $200 regardless of brand.

On the other hand, if “coffee is coffee” to you, some basic yet highly rated coffee makers are out there for under $30.

Man drinking coffee outside.
Jarritos Mexican Soda / Unsplash

The bottom line

After asking all the right questions, we’ve determined that when it comes to the machine itself, owning a regular coffee machine is no cheaper or more expensive than a Keurig. The true cost lies in the K-Cups and will translate into more money regardless of how much coffee you drink. When you buy pods, you’re paying extra for convenience. If that’s important to you, there’s nothing wrong with spending the extra money.

However, if that’s the route you choose, we don’t recommend trying to save a few extra bucks up front on a knock-off coffee maker that’s K-Cup compatible. In the end, the money saved isn’t worth the unreliability.

Woman drinking coffee from a Keurig
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Treat yourself: The most expensive coffee pods

Now that we’ve let you know the basic cost of Keurig coffee makers vs. standard coffee machines, let’s have a little fun. Say you’ve gone the Keurig route, but you’ve got someone you really want to impress, and those “Donut Shop Breakfast Blend” pods aren’t going to do it. What are some of the more high-end (and high-priced) pods available? Check these out:

Medano Gold coffee pods

Warning, this one is really going to break the budget, especially since you may have to go to Singapore to get them. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the owners of Medano Coffee wanted to make a splash with a new high-end coffee line, so they went for the world record for the most expensive coffee pods. The resulting pods contain King Jantan peaberry coffee beans from North Sumatra and 22k gold dust. The special edition pods are sold in packs of five for about $388, or just over $50 per pod.

Kopi Luwak coffee pods

There’s no gold in these pods, but there is a special ingredient that may be hard to stomach at first. The coffee in these pods is sourced in southwestern Sumatra, Indonesia. But this coffee isn’t harvested in the normal way; instead, it’s taken from the droppings of the palm civet, a small animal that eats coffee cherries. After the animal digests the cherries, the coffee beans from the animal’s droppings are collected (and thoroughly cleaned).

The pods are much cheaper than the Medano Gold pods, but they still come in at a high price point, with prices on Amazon ranging from $3 and up per pod.

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Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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