The City Paper's migration to a new coffee-delivery platform hit an unexpected snag yesterday. Just a few days after announcing that the kitchen's venerable Bunn machine would be mothballed, Operations Assistant William Philpot IV was seen sheepishly hooking the Bunn back up this morning.
"Hooking the [Bunn] up was a very reluctant thing," says Philpot, who attributes the shortage of "K-Cups" in part to wastefulness on the part of employees who use multiple pods to make stronger cups of coffee. "People are doubling up, and they're getting three or four cups a day," Philpot says. "You're figuring six to eight K-Cups a day gone." His order of 100 K-Cups, which he'd figured would last all week, was depleted by this morning. Still, he's optimistic that once the novelty of the machine wears off, the Keurig system will realize a cost savings. "David [Knauss, City Paper's general manager]'s take was that it was a thing where we weren't supposed to be spending more money. What it looks like is if I can get just the bold K-Cups, it'll probably—we'll probably break even."
"It was not in our projected savings plan," says Knauss of the spike in Keurig usage. "I think at some point the novelty of the Keurig will wear off and as a result consumption will taper." Knauss says that he's working with Philpot to make sure only bold coffee pods are ordered in the future and that extra supplies will be on hand.
Indeed, a frequent criticism of the Keurig system among City Paper kitchengoers has been the preponderance of flavored coffees, decaf coffees, and teas among the pod selection.
Still, in a company that employs about 40 people, even 100 bold coffee pods won't go too far, especially when people use two to make each cup of coffee. Knauss says he finds such behavior "wasteful."
"Oh please, I doubled up once," says Information Technology Director Jim Gumm when asked if he was responsible for this drain on resources. "I would do it again," he adds, "if we had some coffee!" Arts Editor Mark Athitakis was similarly unapologetic. "I repeatedly double-cupped," he says. "It's the only way to get good coffee out of the thing."
So if the coffee's weak, and the K-Cups are costing more than planned, does Knauss consider the switch to the Keurig a failure? "As with many things here, I'll accept the criticism," says Knauss. "I'm happy, actually, to adjust our expectations and spend more than we planned if that gets people what they want."
I asked Philpot if he was upset about the double-uppers. "No, no, no, no, no," he says. "I'm just irritated that we've run out so soon," he says. Did he ever feel the urge to double up himself?
"The thing is, I drink the tea," he says.