K-Cup packs.
Photograph by Scott Eells — Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Ben Geier
March 2, 2015

One in three of us have some kind of pod-based coffee brewer at home, The Atlantic reports, whether it’s a Keurig or similar machine. Not among the 33.3%? The guy who invented Keurig’s iconic K-Cups.

“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” K-Cup co-inventor John Sylvan told The Atlantic. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.” Sylvan came up with K-Cups alongside Peter Dragone, according to the Boston Globe.

Keurig Green Mountain is making plenty of money from K-Cups: They accounted for nearly 75% of the company’s net sales in the first quarter of 2015. Still, The Atlantic points out all those K-Cups come with an environmental baggage: The tiny plastic vessels are non-biodegradable and not recyclable despite consumer efforts pressuring the company to go green.

Several of Keurig’s K-cup patents expired back in 2012, opening the door for private companies to make their own coffee pods for Keurig machines at a lower cost than Keurig’s own offerings, a serious threat to the Keurig’s bottom line. Keurig has attempted to block other companies’ pods from working in its newer machines, but that move backfired as consumers found some of their favorite coffee brands were no longer compatible with their brewer.


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