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Steeped Coffee aims to solve the K-Cup problem with java in a tea bag

The last time I drank coffee, it came with Irish whiskey in it, so I may not be the best judge of the storied beverage. But it sure looks like a company here in California might put a big dent in the coffee industry, specifically the popular K-Cups from Keurig, which generate a lot of environmental waste and whose creator is not cool with his creation.

The company is Steeped, based in Santa Cruz, California. Their patented coffee delivery system, for you junkies out there, comes in a form that looks exactly like a tea bag, down to the tag on the end of the sting. Not only is it super-easy, requiring only a cup of water instead of an insanely complicated brewing system, but it only takes about five minutes to brew a cup of high-quality coffee.

“Premium coffee roasters have shied away from offering their specialty beans in single-serve packaging because it’s been nearly impossible to keep ground coffee fresh, which quickly ruins the taste,” said company founder Josh Wilbur in a release. “With our Nitro Sealed bags, oxygen is replaced with nitrogen, so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.”

Science, right?

K-cups are made by Keurig, which has been struggling in recent years despite a preponderance of the company’s single-serving coffee in hotel rooms throughout the world. The coffee-in-a-pod system invented by cofounder John Sylvan turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Keurig wasn’t doing so hot back in 2015, despite nearly $5 billion in profits, but a merger with — weirdly,  — Dr. Pepper and Snapple — encapsulated the product into a massive conglomerate worth something like $20 billion.

Keep in mind, especially if you’re not a coffee connoisseur, Steeped’s patented coffee method and Keurig’s K-cups share a lot in terms of delivery mechanics: they’re both single-serving friends, take little time to make, and can last on both pantry shelves and grocery store stocks for a long time.

One of the main differences is that K-cups are notoriously hard to recycle and present enough of an environmental hazard that even their inventor regrets ever making them. The problem is prevalent enough that Steeped’s Wilbur spent seven years trying to come up with an alternative to K-cups without wasting 10 million single-serving pods like the competition.

Wilbur is a surfer from Santa Cruz who wears a cap with his daughter’s name on it. His product is 100% compostable and ethically sourced, a rarity in a market that is drenched with competition. His wingding raised over $30,000 off of a $20,000 goal, which is a pittance compared to the billions that Keurig brings in, but a good idea is a good idea, so let’s see where this goes.

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