The Problem With Coffee Capsules

It’s a decade since a book with the intriguing title “Nudge” was published. Written by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler it has had a profound influence on Government and business around the world. Just recently the BBC ran a programme titled “Nudge, nudge” to celebrate its publication.

The reason for my interest was that one of the items mentioned in the programme was the ubiquitous coffee capsule and how it is that consumers who purchase this product make no connection with the price of buying the same coffee in a loose format such as 250g or 1 kilo.

The consumer it appears makes a comparison between the price of a cup of coffee in their local Café and the cost of the capsule. Say £2.50 for a cup of coffee v 35p for a capsule. When looked at from this perspective capsules look amazing value. The opposite is in fact true.

The maths are quite extraordinary. If you were to purchase 500g of a great traceable coffee from your local roaster you’d likely pay between £12 and £13. To buy the equivalent amount of coffee packed in capsules would cost you £25.00! Yet despite this differential sales of capsules have been growing exponentially.

Clearly convenience is a big factor, but can the amount of packaging material being used to make each cup of coffee ever be justified? The industry is trying hard to develop more eco-friendly capsules which is a good thing, but what if all that effort was made redundant by simply paying producers a better price for their coffee? This would make everyone’s life better from producer to consumer and go some way to mitigating the damage being done to this planet.

 Easy to say in a paragraph but apparently not so easy to deliver. In previous blogs I’ve bemoaned the quality of café coffee in France. It’s about time some café owners woke up and smelt the coffee. The consumer will only pay Euros 2.50 for a poor cup of coffee a couple of times before giving up altogether. When they get home and have a cup of capsule coffee for 35p which tastes good why even consider going to a café?

 I guess the moral of the story to the food service industry is, pay sensible money for your coffee, train your staff properly and produce a great product. To the consumer take a look at all the new sustainable ways in which you can make coffee at home. A great place to look is Their products are stocked by many specialists and you might just help save the planet!

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