A Post Falls-based company is aiming to change the single-serve coffee market through FreshPod, a product similar to a K-Cup pod that is roasted and shipped in 48 hours to ensure peak freshness.
Coffee Crafters, which sells coffee roasters and equipment, saw a need in the single-serve coffee market after noticing that many K-Cup pods lose freshness from sitting in warehouses or on store shelves, Coffee Crafters founder Ken Lathrop said.
Several of Coffee Crafters’ customers also expressed interest in purchasing K-Cup pods from the company, Lathrop said.
Lathrop purchased a Keurig machine and began developing a process for creating pods using the company’s fresh-roasted coffee. Through that process, he determined that a three- to seven-day window exists in which the coffee is at its freshest.
“We thought, ‘If we could roast the coffee and ship it within 48 hours of the roast date, it would actually arrive to customers at an absolute peak of freshness, which is something nobody’s ever done before,’ ” Lathrop said.
FreshPod offers breakfast blend, medium roast, dark roast and decaffeinated pods with free shipping via its website. A package of 48 pods costs $31.20, and a package of 120 costs $72.00.
The company began selling the pods last week on its website and customer feedback has been positive, Lathrop said.
“We’ve been excited because I’ve had to change my attitude about gourmet coffee and actually had to admit that you could get good coffee out of the K- Cup,” Lathrop said.
Lathrop founded Coffee Crafters in 2013 after living in Thailand, where he discovered fresh-roasted coffee.
“I was thinking about roasting coffee for the tourists down there because we had terrible instant coffee … and so that’s how I got into coffee roasting,” he said.
Lathrop, an Eastern Washington native, moved back to the Northwest in 2000 and partnered with a local manufacturing plant to design parts for a coffee roaster. He subsequently launched Coffee Crafters, which sells coffee-roasting equipment.
“Probably 75% of our customers have little to no roasting experience when they come to us,” Lathrop said. “We actually engineered the roaster so it was designed for that group of people. It’s easy to install and easy to operate. Regardless of what people tell you about how difficult coffee roasting is, it’s not that hard.”
The region’s coffee scene has steadily grown over the past five years, Lathrop noted.
In 2018, Spokane had more than 150 coffee shops, according to market research firm ReferenceUSA.
“Microroasters are where microbreweries were 30 years ago, and that’s why we’re excited,” Lathrop said. “We have hundreds of people out there that have started successful businesses out of their basement or garage. It’s almost like getting the neighborhood milkman back, where they’re delivering fresh product right to your door.”
The company is using Spokane and Portland as test markets for its FreshPod product, Lathrop added.
“As we get the efficiency down on the operation side, we’re really looking to grow a national brand,” he said.
This article was updated Sept. 27 to reflect that coffee in the FreshPods is roasted and shipped in 48 hours.
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