Keurig Dr Pepper has designed a revolutionary new packaging format for single-serve coffee – roasted coffee beans are ground, pressed and then wrapped in a protective plant-based coating, instead of plastic or aluminium.

The pods (K-Rounds) will work in the new Keurig Alta brewer as part of a reimagined Keurig system that aims to allow consumers to make a variety of hot and cold barista-style beverages without having to master complex brewing techniques.

Consumers will have the opportunity to provide essential feedback in the ongoing development of the Keurig Alta system in various beta testing phases with the first starting as early as fall 2024.

Keurig says that it will leverage learnings from these trials, as well as strategic engagement with and insights from its retailer and coffee brand partners, to refine and optimize the system before making it available for broader sale to consumers.

The unique design of K-Rounds, the company says, allows for brewing at both high pressure for espresso-based drinks and low pressure for drip coffee, cold or hot.

The pods will come in different sizes for specific types of coffee beverages and will be marked with a code that the Keurig Alta brewer automatically reads to determine the necessary pressure and extraction profile.

Keurig says that after brewing, K-Rounds can be disposed of like coffee grounds and are expected to be certified compostable – the company is currently working through the certification process. The new Keurig Alta brewer will also provide the option to brew existing K-Cup pods.

The development of the Keurig Alta brewer and K-Rounds is the result of a multi-year innovation project that incorporates significant intellectual property in beverage, pod, appliance and manufacturing design and processes.

As part of this intellectual property portfolio, Keurig has acquired a perpetual license to know-how and technology invented by Delica Switzerland for their CoffeeB system in Europe, including a proprietary plant-based coating and application processes. KDP’s partnership with Delica grants Keurig exclusive rights to use and build upon these technologies for consumers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Sykes, Packaging Europe’s brand director, says: “Intriguing, and I have questions! Coffee tends to have some of the most demanding barrier requirements across food & beverages. Does this “plant-based coating” protect the product for the needed shelf life? Does the elimination of packaging material result in compromises that necessitate adding functional barriers to the secondary packaging that aren’t necessary in more traditional coffee pods?”

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