Single Cup Brewing Systems – Why Is Keurig Leading the Way in This Market?


There are many products available today for single serve brewing at home or in the workplace. You may have seen commercials on TV for Keurig, Senseo, and Dolce Gusto and wondered how each brew system works and which one is the best. The latter really is dependent on things like the amount of money you are willing to pay, what features you require, and what coffees you prefer. In this article, you will be introduced to the Keurig brewing system, and discover not only how it works, but where you can get brewers and drinks at the best prices.

The Keurig Story

Keurig originated in 1992, upon a foundation centered on excellence. In fact, the name ‘Keurig’ is the Dutch word for excellence. Keurig wanted to produce a brewer that was small enough to be used at home, yet effective at brewing up a consistently fresh coffee every time. However, the brewer itself would be only part of the equation. The end result would be a total system that would include single portion packs that would do away with the need for measuring, and provide an easy clean-up. Through research, innovation and trials, by 1998 they had debuted their first single-cup brewer. An essential element of this system is the portion packs, which they named K Cup, short for ‘Keurig cup’. This patented technology allows a single cup to be brewed in under a minute, and with the exact pre-measured amount of grounds in each k cup consumers can rest assured to have consistent taste from cup to cup.

What Exactly is a K Cup and How Does It Work?

K cups are composed of plastic, and each cup contains a filter and coffee grounds, cocoa, tea or whatever the intended beverage. The benefit of this little single portion pack is that you don’t have to grind and measure and hope for a consistent taste each time you brew. It’s all done for you. The coffee is pre-ground and pre-measured in a convenient little cup. The k cups are sealed with a foil lid, which locks out moisture and oxygen, both of which degrade the freshness and flavor of coffee.

To brew you simply place a k cup in the brewer and as the lid closes the foil lid, as well as, the bottom of the plastic cup are punctured. Through a nozzle, hot water flows into the k cup steeping the grounds and flowing through the filter and down into your mug. It really is that simple. To clean up, remove the spent k cup and throw it into your trash can.

What Kinds of Coffees and Other Drinks Are Available in K Cups?

The Keurig brew system has a great variety of beverages available in k cups. Very well-known brands such as, Caribou, Tully’s, Timothy’s World Coffee, Gloria Jean’s, Emeril’s, Newman’s Own, Wolfgang Puck, Folger’s, Green Mountain, Coffee People and many more can easily be found online, as well as, in your local stores. There are actually over 250 different flavors of coffee, tea, cocoa, and other specialty drinks available on the market for Keurig brew system users. From decaf, to breakfast blends, dark roasts, extra bold, flavored coffees, world-class hot chocolates, ciders and more, you will have scores of options when using the k cup system for your single-cup brewing.

Can I Use My Own Coffee?

One of the benefits that set the Keurig single-serve brew system apart from the competition is the fact that you can use your own coffee grounds. This opens the options and possibilities tremendously for the user. Not only does it help diminish waste and expense, but it allows you to use your favorite brands, flavors, and grind. Using your own grind level and reusable coffee cup getting to find your optimal amount of grounds used in relation to the cup size you brew gives you the ultimate control over the flavor and strength of your coffee. When looking at single serve brewing systems, you will find that single serve brewing is not a cheap endeavor. Finding an option that allows you as much freedom with not only the selection already on the shelves in single portion packs, but the ability to use your own grounds makes it a little less limiting than the competition and the decision becomes a little easier to make.

Note: There are some Keurig brewers that are not compatible with the refillable filter [accessories that are needed in order to use your own coffee. When delving into researching brewers, if you prefer the option to use your own coffee, make sure the brewer is compatible with accessories like My K Cup and Solofill refillable k cup filters.

So How Much is The Keurig System Going to Cost?

The brewers compatible with k cups range in retail price from $79 all the way up to over $250 depending on how extravagant you want to get with your bells and whistles. The variations between the brewers are mostly in the following areas:

  • How many brew sizes options are offered
  • How much the water reservoir will hold
  • Programmable features like automatic on-off
  • Brew time
  • Are there adjustable brew temperatures

The k cups differ in expense depending on which drink you are purchasing and where you are getting it. There are great deals out there online, as well as, in your local grocery stores, but you will have to do some digging if you do not want to pay retail. You could pay as little as 32 cents per k cup, and as much as 80 to 90 cents and up if you don’t shop around.

Doesn’t This System Seem Expensive and Wasteful?

Depending on how the system is used, it could be considered high-priced and wasteful, but that is really up to the user. A change in expense is going to be relative to how you are buying your coffee now. For instance, how often are you going to a retail coffee chain for your coffee? A serving at a coffee shop is a great deal more expensive that even the costliest k cup. If you compare it to the cost of buying coffee for your standard drip coffee maker, then you will have to sit down and really evaluate your habits and crank out some numbers. Yep, do the math. You will make a better decision having all of the details rather than basing it on assumption.

To break it down, consider how much of the coffee that you presently brew with your typical drip machine gets poured down the drain because it goes stale before you drink it. If you live alone, or are the only one in your household that appreciates coffee, chances are that you frequently brew more than you consume. If that is indeed your scenario, then you must bear in mind that you get fewer yields out of a bag of coffee than you thought. This makes the cost of the coffee that you actually do drink more expensive per cup. Even if the expense per cup with standard brewing is still slightly less than single cup brewing, you should consider how many times you drink old bitter coffee because you don’t want to waste it. Who really wants to drink stale coffee? It looks as though brewing only what you are actually going to drink is well worth the pennies on the dollar that you will spend to have fresh coffee every single time, and waste nothing down the drain.

As far as environmental waste, being that you can use reusable filters like the My K Cup and Solofill, discarding plastic k cups after every brew is not required. There are even caps for spent k cups called My-Kap that allow you to reuse an actual k cup. Many of the competition in single cup brewing do not allow for these types of accessories. If environmental waste factors are a reason for concern, rest assured you can avoid an abundance of plastic coming from your home to the landfill with the Keurig brew system.

Summing Up the Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System

Now you have some history on the Keurig company and how their version of the at home single-cup brewing system came about. A lot of research and development went into creating the perfect brew system for the home that would allow coffee drinkers to have a consistent fresh tasting coffee every time they brew. The Keurig system’s array of beverage choices and freedom to use your own grounds give it an advantage over the competition. If all things are equal with brewer pricing and reliability, why would anyone want to be limited in their beverage selection?

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