Recently here in Minnesota it was Christmas, an annual holiday that for many involves paid time off and a stressfully misadvertised “gift swap.” There was also a Christmas Market in Downtown Minneapolis and it was nice. It should be repeated next year with some minor changes based on suggestions generated by the community the first time around and boy howdy did you guys see all those tens of thousands of suburbanites and outstaters walking around, looking at reindeer and paying downtown sales taxes? Exactly.
If you do celebrate Christmas, I think it’s safe to say you probably received a Keurig® coffee brewing system. A Keurig®, which generally retails for at least $100.00 USD + $19.99 USD for a Rutgers University decal, brews single serve cups of coffee and other hot beverages for consumption by on-the-go coffee and hot beverage consumers. It serves a purpose! Sometimes, one person in one place wants one modestly-sized cup of coffee one morning. Must be a crazy way to live, drinking one modestly-sized cup of coffee in one place one morning–it’s something I will never understand. The Keurig® takes little single serve plastic cartridges (K-Cups!) full of coffee grounds and a filter and pokes a hole in them and shoots hot water through that hole into your mug.
At one point this winter, during the time that I set aside each day to think of new analogies, it came to me that there was a totally undiscovered transportation/coffee analogy:
Regular coffee makers are to transit as Keurig® coffee brewing systems are to cars. Or, more professionally, regular coffee makers:transit::Keurig® coffee brewing systems:cars.
In one corner, you’ve got this coffee maker that can make 12 cups of coffee at once from coffee grounds purchased in bulk and then heat it indefinitely. And a bus that can carry ~40 people at once along a route, and heat (or cool!) them indefinitely. In the other corner, you have a coffee maker that can make one (1) cup of coffee from an individual K-Cup. And a car that, generally, is used to carry one (1) person from Point A to Point B.
And sometimes, that’s what’s happening, right? Sometimes you’re just trying to have one cup of coffee, or you’re just one lady trying to get from Brooklyn Park to IKEA on a Sunday afternoon to buy a dresser, and it probably makes sense to not attempt that trip via mass transit or brew all 12 cups of coffee.
A lot of the time, though, the regular coffee maker/transit is the clear winner. Are you a dense, walkable transportation corridor with many trip generators, or an office of with fifty coffee drinkers? You may want the transit/regular coffee maker option! If all fifty people in the office had their own Keurig® coffee brewing system to brew a single cup of coffee every morning, that would be silly, and surely the office would quickly form an organized coffee club (transit system) or, bare minimum, some selfless employee (the FTA?) would just buy pounds of coffee periodically and make it and demand nothing in return.
Also, per trip/cup of coffee, the regular coffee maker/transit option is going to be cheaper and more environmentally-friendly, and it may encourage camaraderie and team building. In a vacuum assuming that you are the only person who exists, the car/Keurig® option will often be more convenient, but it’s also important to consider the long-term inconvenience of moving everyone in Bangladesh to higher ground/absurdity of regularly making four or five individual single-serve cups of coffee on one machine in one morning.
This has been an analogy.