“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times

Cheap Coffee Pods

Most of the brands in this report also cater to the fast-growing single-serve segment with (relatively) cheap coffee pods. These little plastic cups hold just enough ground coffee to make one mugful.

They take different forms and go by different names depending on the brand of machine for which they're designed. Keurig currently dominates the market for single-cup coffee makers, so its K-Cup is the most popular type of coffee pod. You can also find paper pods for Senseo machines and T-discs for Tassimo coffee makers. These systems are undoubtedly convenient, but if you're looking for a cheap fix in the morning, you won't find it in coffee pod. The New York Times recently did the math: At 8 grams per pod, $10.69 for 12 K-Cups of Folgers Black Silk works out to more than $50 a pound. Meanwhile, we found a 27.8-ounce container of Folgers Black Silk -- more than a pound and a half of ground coffee -- for $7.64.

Senseo pods are generally cheaper than K-Cups, because they house the coffee in a paper filter that looks like a round teabag, rather than a plastic cup. Still, the only real way to get your hands on cheap coffee pods for any type of machine is to purchase beans or ground coffee and make the pods yourself. How-to articles abound online and a company called Coffeeduck markets refillable cups. In lieu of cheap coffee pods, one consumer who posted a review on Amazon uses Melitta Classic Decaffeinated in a Senseo coffee maker. The grind is so fine, this coffee drinker says, that you can put some in a small coffee filter and use the two-pod attachment to make a cup in a single-serve machine.

All that said, here are some of the best values we found for consumers embracing the trend toward single-cup coffee makers. Some mid-range brands that fall outside our budget range for ground coffee come into play if you're shopping for cheap coffee pods. For instance, Caribou Coffee's Caribou blend K-Cups start at $14.99 for 24 -- well in line with other cheap coffee pods. This signature blend is a medium roast that wins accolades from consumers posting reviews at Coffee For Less for its smoothness and full-bodied flavor. Those who drink their coffee black find that it has low acidity and nice balance. In reviews on Amazon, dark coffee drinkers say that even using a larger mug doesn't dilute the flavor.

That doesn't seem to be the case with Senseo Medium Roast coffee pods (starting at $5.95 for 18 pods). Coffee drinkers posting reviews at Coffee For Less call the coffee too weak for a regular-size cup, unless you use two pods at a time -- not a very economical solution. On the other hand, in reviews on Amazon, Senseo owners seem pleased with the taste. One consumer describes it as nutty, with notes of chocolate.

One of the advantages of buying single-serve pods is you can get a variety of flavors in one box and try a different one every day. Consumers living in the same household can also choose which one they like best, instead of drinking out of the same pot. Green Mountain's Flavored K-Cup Variety Sampler (starting at $14.99 for 22) contains four different flavors -- caramel vanilla cream, French vanilla, mountain blueberry, and hazelnut. At Coffee For Less, reviewers compliment the aromas and the smoothness of the coffee, adding that they like having a variety for when guests come over. Again, though, the issue of strength comes up in reviews on Amazon. Consumers say the coffee is too wimpy unless you make only a small cup.

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