|Headquarters||Burlington, Massachusetts, United States|
|Products||Individual-cup coffee makers, accessories and supplies for same.|
|Parent||Keurig Green Mountain|
Keurig // is an American manufacturer of coffee brewers for both home and commercial use. It is a part of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., which is headquartered in Waterbury, VT. Its main product is the K-Cup, a single-serving coffee brewing system.
Each K-Cup is a plastic container with a coffee filter inside. Ground coffee beans are packed in the K-Cup and sealed air-tight with a combination plastic and foil lid. When the K-Cup is placed in a Keurig brewer, the brewer punctures both the foil lid and the bottom of the K-Cup and forces hot water under pressure through the K-Cup and into a mug or cup. Initially used only for coffee, K-Cup varieties now include tea, hot chocolate, iced teas and coffee, as well as fruit drinks.
Keurig licenses its K-Cup technology to coffee roasters and tea makers such as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Diedrich/Gloria Jeans, Timothy's World Coffee, Van Houtte, Caribou Coffee, Celestial Seasonings, Bigelow Tea Company, Twinings, Tully's, Coffee People and Newman's Own.
- 1 History
- 2 Product details
- 3 Awards
- 4 Environmental impact
- 5 Legal problems
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
K-Cup portion packs were invented by Colby College roommates Peter Dragone and John Sylvan. Dragone and Sylvan founded Keurig in 1990, with later support from co-founder and former vice president of Contract Manufacturing & Quality assurance, Dick Sweeney, in 1993.
The company was based on the brewing of single cups of coffee, which is supposed to provide better consistency in the quality of the coffee. Keurig was a venture capital start up business, with funding from several investors.
In 1996 Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) invested in Keurig, buying a 35% interest in the company. Keurig's first brewer, the B2000, was made for office use and launched in 1998. K-Cup packs with tea were introduced in 2000, followed by other beverages. By 2003, there were more than 40,000 commercial brewers in American offices. Also in 2003, GMCR increased its ownership percentage to 43%. The company's B100 home brewer was introduced in 2004, and the company began looking at going public. In 2006, GMCR acquired Keurig for $160 million, and Keurig is a wholly owned subsidiary of GMCR.
In 2012, the KeurigVue brewing system was introduced, in order to increase the choices users have in brewing beverages. In 2012, a commercial version of the KeurigVue brewer was offered, which allows choice of temperature, cup size, and brew strength. Keurig also released the Rivo brewing system, the first single-cup espresso system which can froth fresh milk for lattes or cappuccinos.
Keurig's patent on the original K-Cup (US5325765) expired in September 2012. Keurig holds at least one additional US patent (US6645537) detailing improvements that have subsequently been incorporated in their K-Cup design.
In 2014 GMCR became Keurig Green Mountain (KGM) by shareholder vote.
They brew coffee or tea by piercing the foil seal on top of the plastic K-Cup pack with a spray nozzle, while piercing the bottom of the K-Cup pack with a discharge nozzle. Grounds contained inside the K-Cup pack are in a paper filter. Hot water is forced through the K-Cup pack, passing through the grounds and through the filter. A brewing temperature of 192 °F (89 °C) is the default setting, with some models permitting users to adjust the temperature.
Keurig sells many models for use with K-Cup packs, for household and commercial use. Licensed models from Breville, made by the Australian company of the same name, Cuisinart, and Mr. Coffee, all introduced in 2010, are also available.
Keurig also sells brewers that use new Vue Packs instead of K-Cup Packs. The Vue system offers more control of the brew with a wider range of mug sizes. Unlike K-Cups, Vue Packs can be emptied and recycled after use. Some models can read the RFID tags embedded in Vue packs to select the optimal brew settings for each variety of beverage automatically and brew coffee at different strengths.
The Rivo system is another model by Keurig which offers the ability to make hot or cold espresso based beverages. Lavazza Espresso coffee packs are used with this system. Espresso size options are 1.4 or 2.8 ounces and three frothing modes include cold, cappuccino, and latte.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters owns and licenses many beverage brands, offering more than 268 flavors. Some of the flavors include tea, hot chocolate, lemonades and cider and other fruit flavors.
K-Cups come in a range of varieties. They offer single-origin coffees from Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sumatra. They also offer custom coffee blends, Organic Coffees, Fair Trade and flavored coffees, and a variety of roasts including Extra Bold Roasts (with 30% more ground coffee), Dark Roast, Medium Roast, Light Roast, Flavored, Decaf, Fair Trade Certified and Organic Coffee Roasts.
Keurig's varieties include products from companies like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. K-Cups also offer English Breakfast, Chamomile and Earl Grey decaf, Chai, Peppermint and Mango tea, from a wide range of companies such as Bigelow, Cafe Escapes, Celestial Seasonings, Gloria Jean's Tea, Timothy's Tea and Twinings Tea. They also offer premium hot chocolate from brands such as Cafe Escapes, Green Mountain Coffee, Timothy's and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Keurig also makes a reusable filter called the My K-Cup, allowing users to make their own beverage.
In November 2013 Keurig opened its first retail store inside the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts. The store features the full line of Keurig machines and over 200 varieties of K-Cups to build your own "Coffee Pack".
In February 2014, Keurig announced plans to develop a cold-beverage system to compete with SodaStream called "Keurig Cold". The Coca-Cola Company purchased a 10% stake in Keurig that same month, and announced that they had entered into a 10-year partnership to provide support for Keurig Cold. In June 2014, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that Keurig would open a new $337-million facility in Lithia Springs, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, that would produce the new Keurig Cold machines.
The Keurig single cup coffee maker platform was named a "Brand of the Year" in the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Equity Study in the "Coffee Maker" category.
In 2011, Keurig was criticized by an environmentalist group Clean Water Action for the difficulty of recycling K-Cups. In response, the company said, "We are working on a few different fronts to improve the environmental characteristics of the K-Cup system." Reviews by The Consumerist, Mother Jones, and The New York Times, note the short lifespan of Keurig machines, as well as the very high cost of K-cups compared to regular premium coffee.
K-Cup pods are composed of four components: the plastic container, made of a polystyrene/EVOH/polyethylene polymer blend, a paper filter, fused to the inside of the plastic container, an aluminum foil lid attached to the top of the plastic container, and the organic material inside the container. Polystyrene is used as an outer layer due to its heat formability and barrier properties. EVOH is used as a gas barrier and to prevent chemical flow-off from the other plastics under heating. Polyethylene is used as a heat seal layer and a moisture barrier.
Except for the #7 plastic container, each of these components are able to be recycled individually. However, due to the fact the used K-Cups are typically disposed of as a whole unit, they are non-recyclable. Their small size also leads to them being easily overlooked in processing facilities and ending up in glass or mixed-paper recycling streams. This leads to many used K-Cups deposited in landfills each year.
Once in the environment, K-Cups generally do not degrade quickly due to the structure of the polymers from which they were made; these plastics are designed specifically for their stability and durability. However, over time, they can be degraded; this occurs primarily by photodegradation and thermooxidative degradation. The general mechanism involves UV light as the activation source for the incorporation of oxygen atoms to the polymer, producing peroxy radicals. These peroxy radicals produce hydroperoxides, which lead to the production of hydroxide free radicals. The hydroxide radicals bind the polymer and cause chain scission, resulting in increasingly smaller molecular weight chains. These small plastic molecules are typically either degraded by microorganisms or leached into the environment. However, due to the low oxygen availability and low levels of sunlight penetration in landfills, this entire process can take 50 years or more.
Keurig Green Mountain has VUE brewing systems available, which utilize recyclable #5 plastics in their coffee pod construction. They also have reusable K-Cup containers; however these containers are not compatible with second generation brewers. Long term, Keurig Green Mountain has set 2020 as the target date for which they intend all K-Cups to be 100% recyclable. They plan to accomplish this by replacing the non-recyclable hybrid #7 plastics used in the K-Cups today with fully recyclable #5 plastics, as well as finding ways to make separating the components of K-Cups for recycling easier. They also intend to offer more programs nationwide for the responsible disposal of K-Cups.
Anti-Trust litigation in Canada and the U.S.
In 2014, after the announcement of its Keurig 2.0 machines, which were engineered to refuse to work with unlicensed K-Cups after Keurig's patent on those expired, several competitors filed lawsuits in Canada and in various United States federal courts. The complaints contain numerous allegations of unlawful acts designed to drive competitors out of business. In addition, consumer litigation alleging that Keurig unlawfully leverages its effective monopoly on single-serve coffee machines to force consumers to buy K-Cups only from Keurig or those who pay it a license fee.
In June 2014, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated "eight actions pending" into one docket in the Southern District of New York, where Judge Vernon S. Broderick is hearing the consolidated case. At that court, the ongoing case has become Case No. 1:14-md-02542-VSB and has grown to include 46 plaintiffs. Also, in its Form 10-Q to the U.S. SEC in June 2014, KGM, Inc. warned of the case's risk to investors stating, "The Company intends vigorously to defend all of the pending lawsuits..."
Keurig 2.0 unlicensed K-Cup workarounds
Rogers Family Coffee, one of the plaintiffs in the pending antitrust litigation against Keurig, has announced, and is giving away for free, a "DRM Freedom Clip" that will allow unlicensed K-Cups to be successfully used in the Keurig 2.0 machine.
At least two Keurig competitors have announced plans to reverse-engineer the Keurig 2.0 competitor-lockout system.
On December 23, 2014 Keurig recalled about 6.6 million units of their Mini Plus brewing system in the U.S. due to burn hazard as US CPSC recall number 15-054. Only systems produced prior to July 2014 were recalled. The recall also was issued in Canada as RA-43015 by Health Canada.
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