Coffee war over single-serve cups heats up

Oct 20, 2014

An unusual coffee war, that has been percolating, has now boiled over. A Canadian coffee roaster recently filed a lawsuit against American coffee giant Keurig over what it claims is an attempt to maintain a near monopoly and keep single-serve coffee prices artificially high. 

Now, as WBFO's Dan Karpenchuk reports, Club Coffee of Toronto says it has cracked the electronic code for those pods and it is pointing the way for other coffee distributors to do the same.

Keurig is facing competition for its single-serve coffee cup technology.
Credit WBFO News

Club Coffee claims that Keurig is trying to reduce competition by preventing its authorized distributors from dealing in unlicensed pods that are compatible with Keurig brewers. And it says Keurig's licensing agreements with roasters prevents them from dealing with rival pod makers, such as Club Coffee.
Club Coffee filed a $600 million lawsuit in an Ontario court against Keurig. It wants compensation and  punitive damages and says Keurig is not only harming other companies, but also consumers who are paying higher prices than they should be for the coffee pods.

A spokesman for Club Coffee says Keurig's new coffee machines have a lockout technology that only accept Kuerig  products, namely the coffee pods.

Keurig released its' new 2.0 model in August. It has a feature that prevents consumers from using other brands of coffee pods. But Club Coffee president John Piggott says his company has cracked the code and has developed a workaround so that its lower priced pods can work with the new Keurig coffee maker. Not only that, but Piggott says he has pointed other companies in the right direction on how to do it.

So how did Club Coffee do it? Apparently the new lids on the K-cups are printed with ultraviolet ink. Piggott went to the printer that makes polymer bills for the Bank of Canada and was able to discover the precise formula to activate the coffee maker. He then bought ink that is commercially available, and his pods worked.

So far, Mother Parkers has said it has pods compatible with the Keurig. So, too, does Treehouse Foods of Illinois.