The Inside Story of the Keurig Coffee Machine

Keurig's first functioning unit (Photo: Peter Dragone)

If you've got a Keurig coffee machine at home or at work, then chances are you'd thought that the product was a huge overnight success. I mean, it literally went from an unknown product (Keu-who?) to being a billion dollar coffee empire. But nothing could be further from the truth (it took the makers 20 years to get there).

Daniel McGinn of the Boston Globe has the interesting story of how the Keurig machine came to be:

At Beth Israel, doctors determined Sylvan, then 37 years old, wasn’t having a heart attack. They did a CAT scan to rule out a brain injury. And so, as doctors typically do, they began to ask questions. Did he get enough sleep? Did he exercise? Most of Sylvan’s answers were medically uninteresting, until a doctor asked if he drank coffee.

Well, yes, he did.

“How much coffee do you drink?” the doctor asked.

Sylvan paused before answering: “Around 30 or 40 cups a day.”

Sylvan was quickly diagnosed with caffeine poisoning, something of an occupational hazard for a guy in his line of work. For the past three years, he and his business partner, Peter Dragone, had been trying to perfect a new kind of coffee maker – one they believed would revolutionize the way America started its morning. They named their invention “Keurig,” a word meaning excellence that Sylvan pulled from a Danish-English dictionary.

On doctor’s orders, Sylvan cut back on his coffee intake, but only slightly. It was the least of the deprivations he suffered while creating a device that could make traditional coffeepots obsolete. Unlike the drip models already on the market, Sylvan’s machine would brew single cups using sealed capsules of ground coffee. From Keurig’s founding in 1992 until their departure in 1997, Sylvan and Dragone hacked together prototype after prototype, working in small offices in Waltham and doing most of the taste-testing themselves. For the first few years, they drew no salary and were turned down for funding by scores of venture capitalists.


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If you're worried about wasting the K-Cups, I found these caps you can put in an used K-Cup. They're called My-Kap. They're awesome! (and you can use whatever brand/flavor of coffee you want!)
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@RealMaia - It's probably the same obsessive compulsiveness that inventors have. Imagine working and re-working the prototype over and over again to get that perfect machine ...
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Best present I ever got is/was an 8-cup French Press. Want flavored coffee? Add something to the grounds before you brew it, even if you're using a drip coffee maker. A wee splash of vanilla extract, a 1/4 tsp of Hershey's cocoa, grated nuts, a pinch of coconut, cinnamon, whatever. There's no reason for a good cup of joe to be that expensive.
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30 to 40 cups of coffee a day is an ADDICTION and a serious medical problem. Let's take a look in the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision.)

(flippety flip)

305.90, Caffeine Intoxication, 292.89, Caffeine-Induced Anxiety Disorder, 292.85, Caffeine-Induced Sleep Disorder, 292.9, Caffeine-Related Disorder NOS. It all starts on pg. 231, right after amphetamine-related disorders.

The point is, this is NOT exactly a cute story...
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