Storm in a K-Cup: My SHAME over the eco-monster I created, says coffee pod inventor

John Sylvan speaks out on Keurig tech

The inventor of the increasingly popular – and apparently environmentally unfriendly – coffee pod feels guilty about his invention.

John Sylvan came up with the idea of the Keurig coffee machines back in the 1990s, complete with its little self-contained coffee pods, K-Cups, that you stick in the machine to brew a mug.

He sold his share of the company just a few years later, and now doesn't even own one of the machines, Sylvan told The Atlantic this week. “I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use," he points out. "It's not like drip coffee is tough to make."

Later on, he tells the magazine: "I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it."

Millions of addicts who love their coffee over-flavored or a little tasteless would beg to disagree, however: there are billions of the K-Cups now sold each year, and growing. According to the National Coffee Association, nearly 1 in 5 of us drink a "single cup brewed" coffee a day.

It has got so bad that the issue is hitting the radar of environmentalists, and forced Keurig to produce a sustainability report.

Although the K-Cup is theoretically recyclable, it would need to be carefully pulled apart into its components. Which of course no one is going to do because if they wanted to spend any time at all messing about with coffee pods, they wouldn't be using a Keurig machine in the first place.

What's more the machines now even have DRM builtin, and the latest machines will only accept "official" pods - something that has annoyed customers and sparked a mini-industry in so-called "freedom clips" that let people use cups from other sources.

On the issue of recycling, Sylvan also comes down hard on his invention: "No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable," Sylvan said. "The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers."

According to the coffee machine maker, it will be a 100 per cent recyclable pod soon. If you consider five years "soon." ®

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