For years, Cameron’s CEO Bill Kirkpatrick says he refused to even entertain the idea of putting his specialty coffee into individual serving pods because he didn’t like the taste of anything that came out of a Keurig machine.
But, about three years ago, he tried a cup brewed in a filtered single serve pod and he did 180, he said.
“It was fantastic,” he said. He knew right away that he wanted to order the packaging equipment and he says he now runs the machine, along with three more that he has bought since then, 24-hours a day five to seven days a week. If the machines ran at full capacity, they would make 1,350,000 cups a day.
Kirkpatrick claims the filtered pods create a richer tasting coffee than the plastic cups because the hot water is better able to permeate the coffee grounds.
“The problem [with the plastic cups] is that when you take a cup and the machine pierces the top and pierces the bottom and it forces water under pressure through the pod” the water often takes the line of least resistance, causing “tunneling,” Kirkpatrick explained.
The water “just goes through one little spot in the pod and leaves the other coffee untouched by water so you don’t get the full extraction,” resulting in a weak beverage, he said.
The filtered pod, however, “is exactly like the brew basket in your 10-cup brewer so you never get dry coffee and you always get complete extraction and it is a perfect does every time,” Kirkpatrick said.
The filter pods work in Keurig machines and do not leak, so they are just as easy to use as the cups, he added.
Filters cut waste
The filter pods also generate less waste than the plastic K-Cups – which is another common reason consumers do not use single serve coffee.
“Keurig is brewing 10 billion cups of coffee from single serve cups a year, which would allow the spent cups to wrap around the world nine times in one year. That is a lot of waste,” Kirkpatrick said.
He explained that the lidding on the filter pods is made from paper and the rings are made from corn, beets and wood rather than plastic so they biodegrade instead of sitting in a landfill. The company has struggled to find a filter that is biodegradable and still offers the structural stability necessary for a single serve pod, but it is testing materials and hopes to have 100% biodegradable pods on store shelves in the new year.
Cameron’s sells for less than K-Cups
Cameron’s single serve coffee filter pods also beat K-Cups on price, Kirkpatrick claims.
“Many consumers don’t like how expensive K-Cups can be at about 80 cents a cup, which is a lot for home brew,” he said. Because Cameron’s wants to be affordable and accessible, it sells the filter pods for about 58 cents a pod without promotion.
However, Kirkpatrick says the company’s main marketing strategy beyond social media is price promotions, which can bring the price down to 41 cents to 50 cents per serving.
The firm can be so aggressive with its pricing because it is a mid-size roaster with lower overhead margins that some competitors, Kirkpatrick explained.
Beyond the pods, Cameron’s hopes to build its business, which has grown 29% year over year for the last five years, by focusing on more refined, limited edition options that play up the taste of beans from specific farms or locations.
“We are in a third wave of coffee consumption. Our parents drank canned coffee, then there were more diverse bags of coffee and now consumers are starting to understand coffee beans taste different based on where they are grown and how they are roasted,” he said, adding this is the future of coffee.