Loss in flavor due to the rapid oxidation of coffee (which oxidizes almost as quickly as gunpowder) is so significant that Third Wave roasters toss out their stock every 10 days or risk losing their reputation for quality.
Tim Widmer, v.p. of sales at United Home Technologies, believes single-serve capsules may one day be held to the same standard.
“Forty-five years ago, Starbucks brought the concept of freshly roasted coffee to Americans,” he said. “If history is a sign, the new trend of single serve coffee will surely be freshness.”
Signs like “Roasted & Filled this Month” or even “Roast of the Week” may appear in the single serve coffee isles of grocery stores sooner than we all expected, said Widmer. United Home Tech., located in Vancouver, Wash., sells iFill pack and capsule filling equipment. The iFill is a small 110-volt machine that operators feed stacks of capsules that are automatically filled, counted, and dispensed into boxes. Depending on the model, one employee can make 800-9,000 capsules an hour for same-day delivery and get on with their day, he said.
During the early days of single-serve the largest brands spent millions on equipment to make their own capsules or signed agreements with Keurig Green Mountain to manufacture capsules, paying Keurig a 6.2 cents per cup royalty for the technology.
Once Keurig’s patents expired in 2012 a number of large co-packers including Mother Parkers, TreeHouse Foods, Club Coffee, and Rogers Family Co. filled capsules for grocery and smaller brands. Innovators such as Pacific Bag introduced small fill and pack equipment in 2014. Since then several European and Asian fill and pack equipment manufacturers have introduced less expensive models designed for mid-sized roasters.
During this time the minimum runs established by private label co-packers were also reduced to the point where small chains could afford to make their own branded capsules for sale online, in-store and at local grocery and convenience outlets.