02/13/2013 04:13 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2013

Nespresso Kona Special Reserve Propels Single-Serve Coffee Into New Realm Of Expense


It's long been an open secret that single-serve coffee made in machines like Nespresso makers and Keurigs are, compared to traditionally-brewed coffee, obscenely expensive. About a year ago, the New York Times discovered that pods for single-serve coffee machines cost about five times as much as normal coffee beans, on a per-pound basis. Consumer Reports has found that using pod coffee makers can cost hundreds of dollars more per year than non-pod competitors, unless you use a refillable pod that basically defeats the whole point of the machines.

Single-serve coffee has nonetheless become incredibly popular very fast; it already commands an 8 percent share of the overall global coffee market. Industry insiders generally believe that this is because consumers compare the cost of a coffee pod -- generally about a quarter -- to the cost of a cup of brewed coffee purchased somewhere like Starbucks or even a deli, and find that they're still saving a lot of money by staying home. And there's really no denying that single-serve coffeemakers are easier to use than bigger drip machines (much less methods, like AeroPress and Chemex, considered nonpareil by true Joe aficionados.)

But now, Bloomberg reports that Nespresso is testing consumers' willingness to spend big bucks for coffee made at home with an incredibly pricy new kind of coffee for its machines. "Kona Special Reserve" costs $2 a capsule, a full eight times the price of an average cup of brewed coffee. Bloomberg says that the limited-edition capsules sold out "within weeks." You can make a lot of money by assuming Americans are super lazy in the mornings.