Savenia Labs Launches World’s First Single Serve Coffeemaker Energy Ratings

We are delighted to announce today that Savenia Labs has launched the world’s first ever independent lab tested energy rating labels for single serve coffeemakers.  See full release here.  These labels are in participating retail stores now, in time for holiday shoppers to make more energy efficient, cost saving and environmentally friendly purchases.  All the while buying better gifts this holiday season.

Single Serve coffeemakers are among the most popular holiday season gifts this year.  Taking the United States by storm, these pod-based brewers and supplies are the fastest growing segment of the coffeemaker market, accounting for billions in sales.

Until now, it was not possible to see how much it costs in energy to run these machines just by looking at the boxes on the shelf or online.  With Savenia Labs Energy Ratings, that’s all changing.  Now shoppers can know which coffeemaker costs $200 to run and which costs just $20…BEFORE they buy.

The waste created from used pods also drives the environmental footprint of these machines.  Many models include reusable pods, while few have recyclable pods.  We are training store staff and making practical advice available to shoppers on how to minimize this waste.

If you’re planning on giving (or receiving) a single serve machine this year, make sure to check out Savenia’s brand new ratings at participating retail stores.  Give the gift someone will want to keep using every day with confidence!

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What’s Inside a Single Serve Coffeemaker Pod?

Single Serve coffeemakers are among the hottest holiday items this year, and chances are you’ll buy one, get one as a gift or get served a cup from one in the next month.

Savenia Labs is set to release the world’s first independent lab tested energy ratings on this popular category soon.  While energy usage drives much of their environmental footprint, the waste created from used pods also has a big impact.

Lots of single serve coffeemakers have entered the market with many different types of coffee pods.  As each works a little differently, we’ve assembled a guide on the five most popular types to help you with your holiday shopping.

To set the stage – the average person will spend over $3,000 on coffee pods and supplies over the 5 year lifetime of the unit.  Lined up side by side, the used pods alone would stretch across 3 football fields.  So which pod system you buy is pretty important.

K Cups

By far the most popular pod-based coffeemakers out there use the Keurig K Cups.  There are 268 varieties of K Cups available on Keurig’s website.  The pods are not recyclable, but Keurig provides a reusable cup that can be used to save money and waste.  The K Cups are tall, rounded plastic cups with a small paper filter at the bottom.  Your favorite coffee fills the rest of the cup above the filters.  Hot water is fed through a hole pierced in the top of each cup, through the filter, and through another hole pierced in the bottom right into your mug.  Keurig models and partner models based on Keurig K Cup technology like Cuisinart and Mr. Coffee all use K Cups.

CBTL Capsules

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has a slightly different design from the ubiquitous K Cup.  We found 25 varieties on The Coffee Bean’s website.  The cups are not recyclable, and we couldn’t find refillable cups for sale.  But the CBTL model we tested used much higher water pressure to handle espresso, and the small plastic capsules contain a plastic sieve to evenly distribute this higher pressure water before it gets to your mug.  The coffee is packed below that sieve and above another filter at the bottom of the packet.

T Discs

Tassimo single serve coffeemakers use T Discs.  There are 62 varieties available directly from Tassimo.  These are not widely recyclable and we couldn’t find refillable discs available.  T Discs appear to be much more intensively designed with thicker, stronger plastic channeling water through tunnels of coffee before filtering into your mug.  These use low pressure to brew a variety of coffees and beverages.  Uniquely, each T Disc includes a barcode at the top that triggers automatic brew settings to customize the brewing process.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto

DeLonghi’s Dolce Gusto coffeemakers use Nescafe Dolce Gusto Capsules.  There are 22 capsule varieties available from Nescafe.  These are not widely recyclable and there are no refillable capsules available.  From the outside, these look quite similar to K Cups but each has a permeable membrane in the middle of the capsule to enable high water pressure brew of every cup.  According to Delonghi, the machine pushes water at a pressure of 15 bars through the membrane.  They claim this approximates the pressure found in coffee house machines.

Bunn/Senseo Coffee Pads

Bunn’s MC My Café and Senseo’s Single Serve Coffeemakers use coffee pads that are quite a bit different than any other on the market.  Instead of a plastic cup as in most other systems, they use coffee filter-like paper pads that enclose the coffee.  These pads are compostable, and you can also buy refillable versions to fill with your own coffee at home without the waste (and cost). Neither the Bunn nor the Senseo push high water pressure through these pads.  Newer Bunn models also use K Cups.

Which system you buy depends on what’s important to you.  If you’re an espresso drinker, you want a high water pressure system and the options for refillable / recyclable pods are limited.  For regular coffee and other ‘non-pressure’ drinks, there are several options for you to buy, recycle or re-fill depending on your needs.

Be sure to check out our other blogs on single serve coffeemakers, including The Competition, The Consumer, The Costs and The Environment.  And look out for the release of Savenia Labs Energy Rating Labels on popular single serve coffeemakers…in stores soon!

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Single Serve Coffeemaker Confidential Part IV – The Environment

The Environment

We focused on 2 aspects of the environmental impact of single serve coffeemakers – electricity consumption and waste from used cups / pods. Extra electricity usage in the home leads to higher energy costs, and results in power plant energy production leading to air pollution. Non-recyclable single serve coffee cups / pods produce plastic waste over the product’s lifetime that can end up in landfills.

Energy-  We found the most energy hungry units used more than 10x the energy of the most efficient units, equaling hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine. A big issue here is standby power, as many of these machines keep water hot for 24 hours unless powered off.

Waste-  The average single serve unit owner who drinks 3 cups of coffee per day over 5 years would use enough disposable pods to stretch across 3 football fields. By using refillable pods, you can cut down on that waste, but lose the convenience many Americans demand. Some machines come with recyclable or compostable pods – so keep an eye out for those options.

For only a few cups of coffee a day, some single serve coffeemakers can save energy, offer more drink variety and produce faster results than an electric drip coffeemaker. On the other hand these units can produce lots of plastic waste. At larger quantities, an energy efficient 10-12 cup machine can produce coffee at a more efficient per cup rate – if you make and drink a full pot. Higher usage environments are likely to do better, environmentally speaking, with energy efficient 10-12 cup coffeemakers, albeit with less convenience and drink variety. Lower usage environments may do better with a single serve machine with regard to energy consumption, although each machine is slightly different.

Please see our blog on Ownership Costs to factor this in to your buying decision.  And stay tuned for our release of Savenia Labs Energy Ratings on SIngle Serve Coffeemakers.  In stores soon!

Happy Thanksgiving from Savenia Labs

At Savenia Labs, we have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Just over 1 year ago, we brought our energy rating labels into retail stores – enabling shoppers to make energy efficient purchasing decisions on many products for the very first time.  Since then, we’ve expanded to 11 more stores in 3 states, multiplying the impact consumers are having every day by buying more efficient, cheaper-to-run appliances.  We’ve also expanded our ratings database from 3 appliance categories to covering 9 by year end.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of so many people and organizations in the DC metro region and beyond- retail stores, business partners, non-profits, universities and many others.  Thank you!

Lastly, thanks to our hundreds of facebook fans and twitter followers, newsletter and blog readers for reading our posts, giving us feedback, and telling your friends about Savenia Labs.

Your efforts have helped to educate people on how to save energy, money, and cut pollution in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.  For more tips on how to save over the holidays, check our Thanksgiving savings tips from last year.

Single Serve Coffeemaker Confidential Part III – The Costs

Coffee drinking can be an expensive habit.  A small simple cup from Starbucks will cost you $1.75 per day, while a fancier palette could run you $4 or more.  If you buy 3 cups per day (the average amount of coffee Americans told us they drink per day), that’ll run you between $1,900 and $4,400 per year.  Over five years, a continuous Starbucks habit would run from $9,500 to $22,000 depending on how expensive your tastes are.

With single serve machines the costs are spread out among many different pieces.  The machines themselves cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on local prices and rebates.  The coffee pods can run from 50 cents up to a couple bucks each; that adds up pretty quickly since many consumers drink 3 or more of these per day.  These pods alone will cost you $2,700 to $11,000 over the coffeemaker’s 5 year lifetime.  Lastly, maintenance on the product can add up when you change the water filter every 3 months and buy de-scaling solutions to keep the unit clean.  Assuming you buy the lower cost pods, altogether this can add up to $3,000 or more over the 5 year lifetime of the unit… and this is before you get to the energy cost of running the unit. Choose wisely.

Brewing coffee in either a traditional coffeemaker or in reusable pods can cost far less in coffee used.  That’s assuming you make only the coffee you will drink with no waste. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends using 10 grams of ground coffee to make one 6 ounce cup of joe.  Conservatively, to make three 8-ounce cups per day at $10 per pound bag prices (about the price of a 1-pound Starbucks bag on Amazon), you would spend $1,610 over the coffeemaker’s 5 year lifetime on ground coffee.  That’s over $1,100 less than you’d spend if you bought the cheapest coffee pods on the market.  But making the coffee yourself is certainly much less convenient, far messier, and lacking in the incredible variety of drinks these pods now offer.

Increasingly, Americans are finding the extra convenience well worth the price – single serve coffeemakers are by far the fastest growing coffee segment in the country.

Stay tuned for our next post in the series on the environmental perspective.

Savenia Labs Launches First Toaster Energy Ratings

Today we are delighted to announce the world’s first energy ratings on toasters.  Full press release here.  Millions of people use these units around the world every day, and now you can find out how much they cost to operate before you buy at Savenia Labs participating retailers.

Energy is Toast.  This time we tested 4 slice units; basic units, full featured with lights and electronic lift mechanisms, dual chamber (2×2) models and long slot toasters.  We found that the energy costs alone can exceed the purchase price on some models, while the dual chamber (2×2) control was a useful feature for people who make 2 slices more often than 4.

You can see the selection of toasters together with Savenia Labs Energy Ratings on the shelf at participating stores, and on our smartphone website at www.savenialabs.com.

In the run up to the holiday season, now is a great time to buy toasters.  And you can save big with coupons from some of our partner stores.

DC / Baltimore Ace Coupon here.  Fairfax Virginia Coupon here.

Please visit the stores and let us know what you think.