K-Cups are a type of single-serve coffee container used to brew enough coffee for just one single portion.
This type of brewing can appeal to your customers who are looking to save time waiting for the coffee to brew as well as those looking to simplify the process.
If you're considering building your own private label coffee business, you might consider expanding your line to include coffee pods if only to expand your potential market size.
This article is intended for those evaluating the details, features, and challenges associated with selling white labelled K-Cups.
Why Consider Selling K-Cups
Simply put, the demand is there.
According to a study published in December 2020 "Figures show that single-serving coffee brewing machines such as Keurig were the second most popular brewing system after standard drip coffee makers, with 27 percent of American coffee drinkers using them in 2020."
The same study points out that the market growth is surprising given that the costs of the machines required to brew these at home are not cheap, which suggests the demand is not particularly sensitive to the costs and markup.
If there is market growth for a particularly pricey product there is a potentially lucrative opportunity to be had.
How to Make Your Custom K-Cups
The first thing you'll need to decide is if you're going to roast your own coffee beans, and then turn them over to someone else to "package" them as K-Cups OR if you're going to let someone else basically handle the roasting and packaging from beginning to end.
You'll find suppliers who are able to either take your roasted coffee beans and, once they determine the correct coffee-to-water ratio, transform them into Keurig coffee pods OR roasters who will handle everything from the coffee bean sourcing, roasting, and then K-Cup packaging.
Most of the other steps and considerations involved are similar to what you would need to consider when bulk buying "regular" coffee wholesale.
Essentially you'll still need to choose the origin, roast type, flavour etc.. of the coffee and then you''ll need to investigate the usual limitations like order minimums and pricing with a roaster.
Challenges w/ Selling K-Cups
Back in 2016 the BBC published an article titled "Is there a serious problem with coffee capsules?"
The article explained that the city of Hamburg had banned coffee pods from state-run buildings "as part of an environmental drive to reduce waste."
At the time Jan Dube, spokesman of the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy was quoted saying "The capsules can't be recycled easily because they are often made of a mixture of plastic and aluminium."
K-Cups faced a deep and lasting backlash from increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.
Fortunately, in December of 2020 Keurig formally announced that "100% of Keurig Dr Pepper K-Cup Pods are Now Recyclable."
Never-the-less, K-Cups are seen as a product built for convenience first and foremost. Even though the pods are now made from recycle-able polypropylene "#5 plastic" the reality is the perception may take considerable time to change.
Offering incentives for returning used K-Cups, like discounts on future purchases can be a great way to offset the environmental impact concerns. For instance you could establish designated drop-off points at retail locations where customers can return used K-Cups in exchange for discounts.
K - Cups and other single serve coffee pods can't be ignored. They may not be part of your initial private label offering, but at some point they will likely need to be considered as an addition to a current product line, especially if you are encountering barriers to growing your demand.
Having said that, you'd do well to ensure the environmental hazard issue is confronted head on and whatever steps that are being taken to mitigate the impact are outlined in your messaging and positioning of your product.
If you're looking to evaluate and comparing selling K-Cups to other methods of building a private label coffee business, be sure to review our guide on bulk buying coffee so you understand the how much you would need to invest if you go that route.