Inventor of K-Cups says ‘I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it’

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NEW YORK -- Pod-based coffee machines that make individual cups of java are now used in one out of three American homes.

You might be surprised to learn that the man who invented the K-Cup -- the single-serve, plastic "pouch" used in machines like the Keurig -- is not proud of his achievement.

John Sylvan told The Atlantic that he sometimes regrets his invention because it creates too much waste that is bad for the environment.

“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” Sylvan said. “I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use.”

He said he thought they would be used primarily in offices, where people like different brews and get coffee at different times.

But Sylvan can't do much about it. He sold his interest in the company in 1997.

The company Keurig Green Mountain says it is “committed to making 100% of K-Cup packs recyclable by 2020.” Sylvan disagrees, saying K-Cups will never be recyclable.

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4 comments

  • Jon B.

    I bought a box from San Francisco Bay Coffee that advertise themselves as being 97% biodegradable. Instead of the plastic cup, the bottom is basically a coffee filter like you would insert into a regular brewer. It works fine in the original Keurig (it won’t work directly in the Keurig 2 because of its DRM “feature,” but works in that device as well if the sensor is fooled with a so-called “Freedom Clip”).

    I don’t see any reason Keurig itself couldn’t produce K-Cups in a similar fashion, and there’s no reason it should need to take until 2020.

    Now that said, I did have concerns about freshness with this kind of packaging, and ended up storing them in ziploc bags once I opened a bag. I don’t consider this a big deal though.

  • pinkie

    They’re recyclable. All you have to do is remove the coffee grounds and bam. Done. You can also reuse the coffee grounds for the garden and the plastic cups for starting seeds. Pintrest saves the day

  • Kathy

    Why would anyone have more appliances on the kitchen counter? I have been using my same coffee maker for 10 yrs. It’s a simple coffee maker and only uses one thin paper filter per day for the whole family or office. The coffee grounds are composted. I never saw the point in buying a Keurig machine. I have tried the K-cups at various offices and found the machines to not work (brokern), which reinforced the notion to NOT buy such machines. Such a waste.*