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I got a pleasant surprise when I went to Wegmans over the weekend. Wegmans now has its own brand of single-serve coffee pods, known as “K-cups.” They cost $5.99, up to $3 less than the big brands.

Wegmans is among the grocers taking advantage of the expiration of Green Mountain’s patent on K-cups. This is good news for consumers, as the store brands are cheaper. But it could be very bad news for Green Mountain. K-cups for Green Mountain are what film was for Kodak. Green Mountain sells its Keurig coffee machines cheap and banks on people buying lots of K-cups.

Green Mountain has sued the makers of these generic K-cups. Reuters reports:

Green Mountain has said it expects to continue to benefit from its scale and expertise in manufacturing K-Cups, and that it will “aggressively defend” its intellectual property.

Green Mountain has dozens of patents governing the brewers, the K-Cups and the interaction between the brewers and cups. The company has already sued Rogers and Sturm Foods, a unit of TreeHouse Foods (THS.N), for selling Keurig-compatible cups that allegedly infringe its patents.

Rogers’ president, Jon Rogers, told Reuters he was confident that he would prevail in the patent fight, saying his cup is as different from the K-Cup as “apples and oranges” – the K-Cup is made of plastic, while the Rogers cup is made of mesh.

Some patent experts wouldn’t be surprised if Green Mountain sued grocers who sell the generic K-cups. The Wegmans box doesn’t indicate who makes its K-cups. It does say “patent application pending for capsule technology.”

Skeptics say Green Mountain could go the way of Kodak. Supporters say it offers a superior product and the generic stuff made with slightly different coffee pods doesn’t taste as good.

I bought Wegmans dark roast. I like very strong, black coffee. The Wegmans K-cups don’t have the same strong aroma or flavor. I’m going to try other roasts. But I do like the price.

Links of the Day:

- A Democrat and Chronicle columnist loves the idea of a new Buffalo Bills stadium – and cites some of the reasons that have been debunked by economists.

- Kids say the new healthy school lunch rules leave them hungry. I lost all sympathy when a student complained 850 calories is not enough for lunch.

- Is the Time Warner modem fee newor not?

- What if the collective-living, nose-ring-wearing candidate who’s talking issues decides the Buerkle-Maffei race?

- Syracuse is launching a campaign to reduce infant deaths related to unsafe sleep - and it’s targeting men.

- Oh, Pittsford.

9 Responses to Wegmans, Kodak & K-Cups

  1. Wegmans (and therefore the family that owns it) in it’s search for more money to union bust/harass teachers, changed it’s oatmeal supplier recently. I immediately tasted the difference in a bad way with the first ‘new’ design box. I emailed Wegmans and a few weeks later got an email that they had gone to oatmeal made with a different machine (steel cut vs rolled or something). More research showed it saved them a few pennies every year. I will never buy it again after dozens of years of buying it. Wegmans is turning more into a pre-packaged/store brand food store and since I don’t care about coffee bars, dining areas or sushi I see no reason to buy at places like Price Rite. Quaker’s oatmeal is Quakers oatmeal. Wegmans megalomanic retail view is turning them into a company store where every product you buy is designed to rip off the hard R&D of other brands while making sure the entire supply chain is somehow part of the company. It is no longer about consumer choice, but about expanding the family empire.

    • February 13, 2013 at 9:15 am Laurieann Jacobs responds:

      I agree, what a waste! Ridiculous to waste all that packaging!

      As for the steel cut oatmeal it is better for you if you have cholesterol issues and it is good when you realize it is simply a different taste,texture.

  2. No reason to NOT buy at Price Rite.
    wish there was an edit post feature…….

  3. October 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    Hate coffee and coffee drinkers.

  4. October 30, 2012 at 8:37 am Havahd St responds:

    Wegmans is trying to make money, like any other business. Those K-Cups are incredibly wasteful and I don’t find them to be any more convenient than a coffee maker. The capsule ones where you can re-use cup part make much more sense.

  5. K-Cups are just about the worst thing that ever happened to coffee. Environmentally wasteful and non-Fair Trade. Why do people find it so difficult to put grounds in a filter and fill a pot of water?

  6. Not to mention k-cups are incredibly expensive on a per-pound basis. I drink 2 mugs in the morning and then fill my travel mug for my commute. If I did that with K-cups, I’d go broke.

  7. January 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm downdaft responds:

    Where does one purchase these generic k-cups once patented by Green Mountain? Who produces these k-cup packaging units

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