THE COFFEE POD REVOLUTION
16 Feb 2016
At Keurig /Green Mountain, which as you probably know manufactures coffee machines, Kevin Sullivan is the Chief Technology Officer. What you probably didn’t know is that he started his career in defense and aerospace. He actually worked for General Electric in their satellite division, where they put satellite on the rockets that they sent into orbit.
So what? Do you need to be a rocket scientist, like Sullivan, to go about simply making a great cup of coffee? Well, according to him, it could help. We believe that he was joking when he said that though. And surely, the crazy idea of just making one cup of coffee at a time couldn’t work, or could it? That particular idea began to catch on approximately ten years ago and, at the time, it was quite the challenge technologically. Again, according to Sullivan, it needed to be uncomplicated for the consumers who were going to wake up in the a.m. and make that cup of coffee, making it quite complicated for the designers.
And now anybody can brew a cup of coffee in no more than a minute, which offers users the convenience and speed of the one cup coffeemaker along with some very appealing flavors, like Golden French Toast, Mountain Blueberry and Pumpkin Spice. Wow, they really sound yummy. These features have been responsible for putting single serve coffeemakers in as many as one in every three American households.
So, where did all of those drip coffeemakers and percolators go? Well, according to Sullivan, there all probably in somebody’s basement now that single serve coffee machines have filled the need for consumers that possibly they didn’t even know they had. But, the process of filling their need for a single-cup coffee machine has made Keurig a $4.7 billion enterprise, probably because their machines run around $200 each.
OK, each cup of coffee that is made with a Keurig isn't particularly cheap, but it's not nearly as expensive as going to a coffee shop, like Starbucks. On the other hand, it is a bit more costly than just going to the market, buying a pound of cheap coffee and using your old drip coffeemaker. In spite of that, however, Americans spent $3 billion on those cute little single-serve coffee pods. That's a lot of coffee.
But, that brings up the controversy about the environmental impact of disposing of millions of empty coffee pods. What is Keurig doing about that? Well, Sullivan answered that age-old question by simply stating that they are working hard at solving the problem. Their newly introduced Vue system does offer recyclable coffee pods. And, Keurig’s objective is for everything to become recyclable by 2020. He further stated that they surely would not wait that long and would be starting on it much earlier. Hopefully they will be converting to fully recyclable way before that date, according to Sullivan.
But, now that a great cup of single-serve hot coffee is such a cool thing, consumers apparently don't care so much about the high price nor the environmental impact.