John Sylvan is upset on two fronts these days. The inventor of the trendy K-Cups is upset Green Mountain Coffee has not made them reusable. He spoke to The Atlantic about his regrets.
“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” he said.
If you’re thinking K-Cups are everywhere, you’d be correct. In 2008, consumers snapped up $132 million worth of the products. Last year? Revenue topped $4.7 billion. Sylvan said he talked with the company on how to improve his invention, but they didn’t want anything to do with him.
I see where he’s upset about the environmental impact, but it’s his decision in 1997 that has to haunt him to this day. At least, it would haunt me. He sold his stake in the company for $50,000. That’s not a typo. Fifty grand. And, revenue for Green Mountain topped $4.7 billion last year.
Give the guy a thank you check each year or something. If you’re making that kind of money off an invention you bought on the cheap, give back something. A lifetime supply of K-Cups.
But, even that wouldn’t work. Sylvan says he doesn’t own a Keurig. “I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” he said. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”
He does understand the consumer appeal, though.
“It’s like a cigarette for coffee,” he said “a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”
Hey brother, you just admitted you make coffee too, don’t judge. Plus, I can’t wait for the cold Keurig to come out. Single-serve Coca Cola? Where do I sign up?
If you’re curious about the impact of the K-Cups you toss away, Mother Jones puts it into perspective. A couple years ago, 8.3 billion pods were produced. Using the discarded ones, you could wrap the trash around the Earth 10 times.
Green Mountain has promised to shift its entire product lineup to be recyclable by 2020. Is that soon enough for John Sylvan? He doesn’t even buy the mantra they will ever be completely recyclable. It’s why he pushes for reusability. Judging by the revenue the single-use brings in, that’s never going to happen.