A bit of k-cup demystification

July 28, 2011


Single-serve coffee may not be for everyone, but it’s increasingly popular and definitely has its place (car dealerships, office settings, busy homes with kids running around and/or coffee drinkers who can’t agree on what to brew, etc.). In fact, ROASTe is now offering several varieties of k-cups again as well as the usual 44-45mm ESE espresso pods and even the occasional 55-61mm pod for use with Bunn-style pod brewers.



With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to publicize an important bit of information about the amount of coffee contained in typical single-serve coffee portions, starting with the ubiquitous k-cup. For some reason this sort of thing is not widely known, and Keurig actually muddies the waters further by using confusing terminology like “extra bold” in ways that suggest it refers to roast instead of dose. Thus, Keurig users might be under the mistaken impression that the only way they can customize the strength of their morning cup is by selecting more or less water to brew with. In fact, one can also control the amount of coffee being brewed by selecting a different *type* of k-cup.



The chart below breaks down how much coffee k-cups typically contain by type (e.g. “extra bold” vs. “travel mug”). Note that the weights listed are pre-brew averages (i.e. how much the k-cups weigh before water is introduced) with 4 grams subtracted for packaging (which I’ve found to be accurate). Also, keep in mind that I used a scale with only 1-gram sensitivity to gather these data, so there may be little variances here and there that escaped my attention. I now have a more sensitive scale with .1-gram sensitivity, and I’ll revise as needed if it reveals any additional distinctions worth mentioning.



- Typical k-cups: 9 grams

- Extra bold k-cups: 11 grams

- "Travel mug" k-cups: 13 grams

- Barista Prima k-cups: 14 grams

- revv: 14 grams

- "Brew Over Ice" k-cups: 14 grams



This is literally the only significant way in which the above types of k-cups differ internally (apart from the obvious fact that different varieties contain different beans roasted to different degrees). Accordingly, a “brew over ice” k-cup has no magical properties aside from extra coffee, and you should feel free to use other types of k-cups to make iced coffee as well (though perhaps with less ice).



One last tidbit: I’ve found that the beefier k-cups—from the “travel mug” line on up—all contain little plastic discs (pictured below) under the filters. The purpose of these discs seems clear: to support the weight of the coffee during brewing and prevent the filter from sagging or tearing. Interesting, right?



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Anyway, back to dose, now you know (if you didn’t already). And as G.I. Joe used to say, that’s half the battle.



*For pod lovers: in comparison, 55-61mm pods contain 7-10 grams of coffee, and “extra bold” pods usually contain 12 grams worth (though 14-gram pods do exist).



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