Thursday, August 16, 2007


A Puzzlement

Okie dokie, so I'm aware that stuff (food, fibre, whatever) that is produced organically or in a way that is more beneficial to the planet tends to be more pricey because of the more complicated growing/gathering/processing stuff involved, and quite frankly, having eaten organic cherries (and garlic! Ooh, organic garlic!) I'm willing to pay the extra if and when I can.

Howevah ... I am greatly confused about coffee filters. No, they're not "organic" coffee filters -- I don't know if there is such a thing. Shut up. Anyhow, I bought these coffee filters for use at work the other day (we use a permanent filter at home) and I had a choice between bleached and unbleached. Now the unbleached ones, as well as being prettier (I like the brown better than the white) are also a "healthier" choice, apparently, so those are the ones I get.

Now -- and here's the puzzling thingie -- organic stuff, things grown in small batches, etc ... those are more expensive because there's more to producing them. But there's nothing "special" about these filters. In fact, seeing they're UNbleached, they actually go through one LESS process. No? And yet, they cost more than the bleached ones.

There's nothing special about these filters. They don't speak three languages or eliminate visible panty lines. They don't have a doctorate (in anything at all) and they can't even restore your carpet to its original lustre.

Just plain ol' bits of paper that you put coffee in and then pour boiling water through so that you can partake of the elixir that makes it possible for people like me to stay up all night, making the world safe for democracy, and likely killing fewer people as a direct result of the increased awaked-ness.

And yet, they're more expensive. Only like 30 cents more, but I get the feeling that the company's just taking advantage here.

Or is there something I'm missing?

Please discuss this amongst yourselves and come up with a reasonable theory while I go have another cup of coffee.

I have always wondered about that too. I swear. Even though our filters are priced the same. After "THE" incident at our public school registration last night, I may need the bleached ones this week.
The process of bleaching paper produces dioxin which is a carcinogen. So you are paying extra to protect yourself from cancer. That's how I look at it.
I figure that the company making the unbleached filters is a smaller operation than the companies that crank out the bleached (more common) ones. The larger companies can afford to charge less because they're selling so many of them.

Or the company is taking advantage.
Jennu, I don't know about that one because the same company puts out the bleached and the unbleached, I think they're taking advantage and since, as per Mary's comment, it's a benefit for our health...they're being ass to charge they're eliminating a step in the process...ass.

I also remember a time, back when I was a kid (I'm 53) my mother wouldn't buy white bread, always wholewheat and it cost less then, of course when more folks got on the whole grain band-wagon the price went up...again...ass.
It might go back to where they get their "ingredients" from. I'm pretty sure they don't make the filters and THEN bleach them. They are probably buying the paper bits, then wet them, press them, dry them (or however that works...not a filter guru). So maybe they get the bleached bits and unbleached bits from different sources and at different prices?

Yeah...I'll go shut-up now.
way back in a college marketing class, we studied "supply and demand" and, perhaps it was statistics, "efficiences of scale". The companies produce more white ones and have a greater supply and they are more widely accepted, hence a cheaper alternative. They don't make as many unbleached ones. Perhaps there is an inefficiency in that process - having to shut down production of one to make the other, having to use more/different equipment, buying smaller quantities of the raw material (hence paying a higher price for it).

And then there is consumer perception - "It is different and it is more expensive - heck, it's probably better! I'll get some!"

It could also have more to do with the store than the manufacturer. The store buys fewer and therefore pays more per item and passes that extra cost on to you, the customer.

Or it could be just because they can! :)
I believe unleaded gas goes through less processing steps than leaded gas, yet unleaded was always more expensive.
I'm pretty sure a bunch of guys in 3 piece suits sit around a table and say, "Ok so if we use less processing on the item it'll cost less to make. Then we'll slap the label organic on it and charge more. People are stupid enough to fall for it every time."

I get the unbleached. I don't want bleach in my coffee.
I solve the whole problem by drinking diet pepsi instead, and G-d KNOWS what's in THAT! But at least I don't have to wonder if there's an organic alternative ...
I think they take bleached ones and tint them with organic tea, which is more expensive than regular tea.
Okay, even though I'm at the beach on vacation, because I care so damn much about your peace of mind (also it's raining) I am going to give you my theory: normally the company gets cotton bleached from its supplier and now the cotton suupplier has to separate out batches and process them separately w/o bleaching, but fewer people want unbleached so they can't do huge batches. So it costs more.

Either that, or the company is donating the extra thirty cents to the World Wildlife Fund.

And I do wonder why they have to bleach tampons and other fem pro. I mean, does your peesh really care about whether that stuff is pure white or not?

Well, Rabbitch? What say your peesh?
And when they leave the salt out of the salt-free canned crap (ick, ick, ick) they charge morefor that too!
My hubby says the unbleached ones make his coffee taste like paper. Iwouldn't since I don't drink coffee. There's my two bits.
Recently I read an article about something similar - the gist was that if something is higher priced, we (westerners, I assume, since it was related to Starbucks in the original article) assume it's better or healthier or whatever. The article suggested that a healthier alternative that was priced LOWER than a crappy alternative actually sold less frequently than when the same product was priced higher than the crappy product. Madison Avenue is using our vanity against us (again).
the unbleached ones are made from re-cycled paper???
so you are filtering your grounds from the Gods through your old newspaper???

i have no idea.
Unbleached coffee filtres are the same price here as the bleached ones. They do go through the same amount of steps though. The difference is really in what chemical they use to eliminate any bacteria or other bits that can get into the pulp. So either way, you are paying for crap in your coffee. The truly "healthy" and less expensive (in the long run) alternative is to buy reusable filtres. If people refuse to wash them out on a regular basis, you can bonk them upside the head and relieve stress at the same time. Win/win.
Whoops. Apparently I forgot to check which identity I was using. Now I am outed and have to change my costume and secret identity. Again. I need more coffee.
Y'know, as cynical as it sounds, I'm pretty sure that at least part of it is the fact that they CAN charge more for the unbleached ones (see: the Whole Foods phenomenon). I solve the problem by using a french press. Yummy coffee, and no filter costs! (More money for yarn...)
If it's the same company making the filters bleached and non bleached, they should be the same price. They are where I shop. If they aren't, smack 'em.
Clearly, this is an act of tyranny. I say - we all drink a billionty cups of coffee (irish coffee, even) and make a bloody protest! Oops, maybe I had too much coffee is a fine line between the perk I desperately need and the bug-eyed, shaky, perspiring and wolfish monster within.
They must be a bit more expensive here too because dh came home with the white ones. He doens't believe a word out of my mouth when I complain that the coffee doesn't taste as good... Use a press! (but then you don't get to drink that last sip without some bitter grounds...)
I totally agree, rabbitch! These things have been driving me crazy for years. It's the same with laundry detergent -- the ones without the added scents, etc cost more. And the list goes on and on. It just show that the consumer gets screwed no matter what.

charlizeen at ya HOOOOOOOOO
As Kathleen said, it's all about economies of scale — which is part of the reason most organic products cost more. (The greater cost to produce organic cherries, for example, is compounded by the inefficiencies of the scale on which they're produced.)
I think they do it so that you think it is a design feature instead of just crappy brown coffee filters. So, yes, they are taking advantage of you and assuming that you cannot figure this out.

Happy coffee!
I also prefer the purty brown organic ones. They look more like the coffee itself.

Off topic; Ms. Rabitch, d'ya know any ophthalmologists in Vancouver? I'm seriously ready to be an ex-pat. I sent you hats last winter; do I get any Canadian credit points for that? I promise to knit more if I can live there....
Wow, the things you learn. I didn't even know canned crap came with a salt free option!

They charge more for the brown ones because of 1) the cost of the brown paint and 3) the cost of labor for the filter painters.
I'd bend over (as long as condoms were involved) if it meant I got the Magic Elixir of Life as soon as possible upon waking. So, you know, I'm good with the extra 30 cents. If they work and make it so I don't have to chew the beans to extract the caffeine, whatever makes 'em happy.

My apologies if this is too crude, but seriously. Considering how much Charbucks charges for their crap (which I am not too proud to drink if it means I can operate not-really-heavy-machinery like my car and survive traffic on 405)? Well, you know what I mean.
Pretty sure that Tally has it right. I've worked with the pulp and paper industry a little, and it's likely that there are fewer operations set up that do not bleach than ones that do bleach. I've been in a pulp mill, it's not so easy to just skip a part of the process, it's a one-way street through all the giant, stinky machinery with only one entrance and one exit. BUT, it's also likely true that the price is higher because of the 'natural' aspect. Fleece (ha!) the masses and all that.
I was going to tell you, but you were out, getting coffee.
Christ. You know, I was thinking the exact same thing the other day....
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