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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Single Cups of Coffee and Bottled Water


SodaStream International Ltd. (SODA) fell for a sixth day, the longest losing streak since its initial share offering, following Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR)’s retreat to the lowest level in five months.
Shares of the Israeli producer of homemade soda machines that sold shares on Nov. 2 dropped 4 percent to $31.54 by 4 p.m. in New York. Green Mountain has declined 24 percent over the past three days after hedge-fund manager David Einhorn said the largest U.S. seller of single-serve coffee makers should improve its financial reporting. The Bloomberg Israel-US 25 Index of the largest Israeli companies traded in New York slipped 1.1 percent to 85.43.

I remember my shock at seeing a Keurig machine 4 or 5 years ago: such a large and good looking lump of plastics and metals all designed to hold, puncture, and pour boiling water into one plastic cup containing coffee or tea.
I was both fascinated... and repelled.

I resisted the crazed idea with all my might. I calculated just how much a single cup of coffee cost on one of those beautiful, Byzantine samovars, and showed that I could fly to Columbia for some Joe cheaper than brew it at home.

However, She-who-must-be-obeyed wanted one, for various reasons, and we did end up with a Keurig and a Green Mountain caffeine-module-delivery-system smack-dab on our kitchen counter. I refused to use it. It did not matter how easy it was.... and it was that - sinfully easy. It was way so much easier than our old way of Melitta brewing: extracting paper filter (recycled paper) from box, fit into cone, fill with 2 Tbsps finely ground coffee, pour boiling water over, and wait maybe one minute.
It was the most demonic drudgery ever conceived, and the blessed ease of the Keurig was so great, that the Keurig machine loomed ever larger in our lives, standing taller and taller over the harbors of our kitchens until it reached the metaphorical height of Miss Liberty holding out her promise of surcease of pain to our desperate and poor coffee-drudgery enslaved masses, yearning to have a cuppa Joe - one at a time!

I refused to use and still do so. My time is not nearly as valuable as the difference in price and time: I save 1.50 minutes using Keurig and the coffee costs me $4.00 per cup more;  60  minutes / 1.50 = 40 and 40 x $4 = $160 per hour.
Unfortunately my time is not worth $160 per hour, at least, I have not found anyone willing to pay that scale for my services.
So we tried to use the one-cup-delivery-system at my parents'; it would be great for my father to enable him to make his coffee, since his sight is so bad. My mother took an immediate dislike to the thing, however. She had no ecological reasons, nor economic reasons, she just did not like having another machine (she already had a Mr. Coffee, and that was Arabian Nights coffee to her mind) on the counter.

She does buy bottled water, however. Or she used to until I pointed out how expensive it was, and a lot of it was only tap water anyway. Bottled water! Brrrr!
I think the point of the Amish was exactly this: they resist technology and innovation not so much to avoid the good effects, but to avoid the bad ones, and the bad ones so very often overwhelm the good ones. Look at television; cable TV has definitely gone to the Dark Side of the Force. Bottled water! The idea of selling water in plastic bottles was a bit of Mephistophelean brilliance! I mean, if the suckers fell for the Apple in the Garden of Eden, they'll fall sure for over-priced water... just as they will for coffee that costs a King's ransom, but is delivered one cup at a time.

Homemade Soda drinks are another idea whose time is right for a discerning few people with too much money. Once again, we see the problems with enormous income inequity: the rich have to spend on gold-plated egg cups for their morning hard boiled eggs, boiled one at a time in space-age-technology boiler-matics, and seasoned with pink salt from Australia and freshly ground varicolored peppers from Malabar flown in that morning.

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