K-Cups. Those awful little capsules that cost way too much (which you’d know if you could do basic math, which, statistically speaking, you probably can’t), weigh on the conscience of anyone who thinks about future generations who’ll be stuck on this increasingly shitty space rock, and taste about as good as the hot brown water served up in the church basements of my youth. So why do we keep buying them?
If you care about the taste and the Earth, it’s time to buy an Aeropress like all the hipsters, find some good beans from a local roaster and make single cups of brilliant java that the K-Cup faithful in the break room will envy. I have an Aeropress, and it takes me maybe 5 minutes to grind beans and make a single cup, start to finish. And it’s delish.
But what if you don’t care about fancy coffee? What if your palate tops out at the double-double*? What if convenience is the only thing that matters?
In that case, why not just embrace shitty coffee all the way?
If you need convenient coffee and don’t much care about the taste, you’d might as well try something instant. And yes, fancypants food blog reader, instant coffee still exists. In fact, it’s kind of a perfect fit in our current cultural moment, where a giant chunk of people in North America would rather pay $1 per cruddy K-Cup than make better coffee with a $20 coffee maker (or an $8 French press) and a pound of mediocre supermarket beans.
If you take milk and sugar, these Nescafé Sweet and Creamy packets are everything you could want. Add hot water to a cup. Open the packet and dump the contents in the cup. Stir. Bam! You’re a genius. A genius with a sweet and creamy cup of coffee. Pat yourself on the back, Mr. Senator.
The taste isn’t outstanding, but manage those expectations and Bob’s your uncle. Made with the recommended 245 mL of water, the ratio is a bit weak. But with a bit less water, it’s strong enough to perk up your morning. They’re pre-dosed with sweetener and milk product (therefore no need to keep milk in the grotty office fridge), as well as hydrogenated oils for that rich, flavourful taste of the mountains. It’s not too sweet or too milky for my taste, and the concoction reminds me of my morning coffee routine when I lived in Africa, where I didn’t have access to any coffee other than Nescafé dosed with sweetened condensed milk.
Before you get all indignant about instant coffee and its associated stigma, ask yourself: Is this really any worse than a K-Cup of stale, expensive coffee ground and packaged six months ago?
*Non-Canadian readers: That’s a Tim Hortons coffee with two creams and two sugars. If you’re planning to emigrate to our fair country, that may be on the citizenship test.
Price: $7.99 for an 18-pack of sachets at Safeway. That’s $0.44 per cup, which is pretty cheap compared to a lot of K-Cups out there. I’m pretty sure I saw some at No Frills for $4.99 for the same quantity, which strengthens the economic case.
Availability: Widespread, in the way only a player like Nestlé can manage.
Calories: 90 calories per cup.
Verdict: A guilty pleasure that reminds me of my other home. These days, I play it both ways: these bad boys when I’m running late for a meeting, or the Aeropress when I have a bit more time. And yes, hipsters – you’re allowed to like them ironically.