Title:
BEVERAGE BREWING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A beverage cartridge system is adapted to brew a beverage through a brewer having a holder adapted to receive the cartridge system. The holder may have a deep well with one or more needles therewithin to pierce through the bottom of the cartridge system when inserted into the well. The cartridge system may include a short cup and a tall cup, where the tall cup is taller than the short cup to pack more beverage grind. The cartridge system may include a filter within an outer cup. The bottom of the filter may be deep enough to be juxtaposed to the bottom of the cup. The filter may be formed from a material that is substantially resistant to piercing by the needle within the holder such that when the outlet needle pierces through the bottom of the cup, the outlet needle raises the filter at a point of contact, and the filter substantially resists the outlet needle from piercing through the filter during a brewing process.



Inventors:
Oh, Sung I. (West Covina, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/925595
Publication Date:
12/26/2013
Filing Date:
06/24/2013
Assignee:
Touch Coffee and Beverages, LLC. (City of Industry, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
426/115
International Classes:
B65D85/804
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROSS, DANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HENRICKS SLAVIN LLP (Austin, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cartridge system adapted to brew a beverage through a brewer having an outlet needle adapted to pierce the cartridge system and drain the beverage through the outlet needle, the cartridge system comprising: a cup having a base and a lip, a side wall between the lip and the base; and a filter having a bottom and a rim, the rim of the filter adapted to couple adjacent to the lip of the cup, the bottom of the filter juxtaposed to the base of the cup, the filter formed from a material that is substantially resistant to piercing by the outlet needle of the brewer such that when the cartridge system is in use, the outlet needle pierces through the cup and raises the filter at a point of contact, and the filter substantially resists the outlet needle from piercing through during a brewing process.

2. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where a portion of the bottom of the filter is in contact with the base of the cup.

3. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where the filter is made of nylon material.

4. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where the distance between the base and lip of the cup is substantially longer than a K-cup® along its longitudinal axis.

5. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where the side wall has an elongated cavity along its longitudinal axis.

6. The cartridge system according to claim 5, where the base of the cup has a recess extending from the cavity.

7. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where the cup is sized substantially similar to a K-cup®.

8. The cartridge system according to claim 1, where the rim of the filter is sealed adjacent to the lip of the cup.

9. A cartridge system adapted to brew a beverage, the cartridge system comprising: a cup having a base and a lip, a side wall between the lip and the base defining an interior space therewithin; and a filter, the cup adapted to receive the filter having a rim and a bottom, the rim of the filter adapted to couple adjacent to the lip of the cup, the filter dividing the interior space of the cup between a first chamber and a second chamber, the first chamber accessible via the lip of the cup, and the second chamber generally between the bottom of the filter and the base of the cup, the first chamber packing a first beverage grind, and the second chamber packing a second beverage grind.

10. The cartridge system according to claim 9, where the first beverage grind is coffee grind, and the second beverage grind is cream powder.

11. The cartridge system according to claim 9, where the second beverage grind is instant creamer powder.

12. The cartridge system according to claim 9, where the second beverage grind is packed in a pouch.

13. The cartridge system according to claim 9, where the cup is sized substantially similar to a K-cup®.

14. A holder adapted to receive a first beverage cartridge and a second beverage cartridge, the second beverage cartridge being longer along its longitudinal axis relative to the first beverage cartridge, the holder comprising: a lip; a basin; a side wall between the lip and the basin defining a well therewithin; a first outlet needle within the well; and a second outlet needle within the well, the first outlet needle between the lip and the second outlet needle, the first outlet needle adapted to pierce through the first beverage cartridge, and the second outlet needle adapted to pierce through the second beverage cartridge.

15. The holder according to claim 14, further including a stopper ledge within the well between the lip and the basin, the stopper ledge supporting the first outlet needle.

16. The holder according to claim 14, where the second outlet needle protrudes from the basin.

17. The holder according to claim 14, where the holder has an outer configuration that is substantially similar in size and shape to a cup holder provided with Keurig® home brewers.

18. The holder according to claim 14, where the holder is interchangeable with a cup holder provided with Keurig® home brewers without interfering with operation of the Keurig® home brewers.

19. The holder according to claim 14, where the first outlet needle is adapted to pierce through a bottom of a K-cup® when the K-cup® is inserted into the well.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to four U.S. provisional application Nos. (1) 61/690,275, filed Jun. 22, 2012; (2) 61/849,236, filed Jan. 22, 2013; (3) 61/850,862, filed Feb. 25, 2013; and (4) 61/852,470 filed Mar. 15, 2013, which are all hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention is directed a beverage brewing system, and in particular, to a brewing system for making hot beverages such as coffee, tea, coco, milk, and soup.

2. Background of the Invention

There are many ways to brew coffee including drip and french press methods. Recently, brewing coffee through a single-serve cartridge has become popular for its convenience and a variety of coffee flavors which are offered. Single-serve cartridges are packed with pre-measured coffee grind which can be inserted into a brewer to inject hot water into the cartridge to brew the coffee. Like any other beverage, one of the important criteria for a success of the beverage is its taste, and coffee is no different. In this regard, the Coffee Brewing Center (CBC) during the 1960's, led by Dr. Earl Lockhart, has done a lot of research in understanding the physics and science behind what constitutes a good tasting coffee. The CBC has come up with what is called the “Coffee Brewing Control Chart” like the one shown in FIG. 1, which provides a graphical representation of strength, extraction and brew formula in an easy to read format.

According to the chart shown in FIG. 1, an ideal tasting coffee is obtained when there is a good combination of strength and extraction. Strength is also referred to as total dissolved solids (“TDS”), and the ideal TDS level is 1.15%-1.35%. For example, TDS level of 1.00% means there is 1.00% of coffee concentration and the remaining 99.00% is water in the cup. According to the chart, coffee having a TDS level below 1.15% may taste weak; while coffee having a TDS level above 1.35% may taste too strong. As a reference, coffee from a traditional coffee house, such as Starbucks®, may have a TDS level from about 1.20% to about 1.35%. The TDS level may be measured using a number of different instruments such as hydrometers, conductivity, Brix and moisture microwave. In particular, a conductivity meter measures the amount of coffee flavoring material based on its conductivity across a coffee infusion.

The chart in FIG. 1 also indicates that the ideal extraction level for coffee is 18%-22%. Extraction means amount of coffee that has dissolved from the coffee grind into the coffee drink. For example, if 10 grams of coffee grind is brewed, and after the brewing there is 8.0 grams of coffee grind left, then the extraction level is 20% because 2 grams or 20% of the coffee grind dissolved into coffee. Extractions below 16% may indicate a coffee taste that is under-developed such that it may have a weak peanut-like flavor, while extractions over 22% may indicate a coffee taste that is over-extracted so it may taste bitter.

Many hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, are now provided in single serve packs which can be inserted into a brewer to inject hot water into the pack to brew hot beverages. For instance, US. Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0051478 entitled BEVERAGE FILTER POD by Karanikos et al. (the “'0051478 Application”), which is hereby incorporated by reference, describes a beverage filter cartridge having a cup like container where the interior is divided into two chambers by a cup-shaped filter element: a first chamber inside the filter and a second chamber located between the filter bottom and the container bottom. The upper rim of the filter is joined at the upper rim of the container side wall, and the filter side wall has exterior channels that face the container side wall and lead downwardly from the peripheral juncture to the second chamber. The filter sidewall is folded to provide exterior channels. And according to the '0051478 Application, during the brewing cycle, the channels provide a passageway for beverage to permeate from the first chamber to the second chamber, and in so doing, improve the full saturation of the beverage grind in areas adjacent to the container side wall.

A beverage grind, such as grinded coffee, is poured into the first chamber, and a cover, such as an aluminum foil, is used to seal the container. An input needle can pierce through the cover to inject hot water into the first chamber to mix with the beverage grind to produce a beverage. The filter element is permeable to allow liquid beverage to pass therethrough while retaining the granular beverage grind within the filter. The beverage passes through the filter via the exterior filter channels, and into the second chamber. An output needle can pierce the bottom of the container to allow the beverage to flow out from the second chamber. While the cartridge described in the '0051478 Application is able to brew a sufficient cup of coffee, the cup size of the coffee is limited because there is a limit as to how much coffee grind the filter can hold.

To brew a bigger cup of coffee, US. Patent Application Publication No. 2010/0303964 entitled CARTRIDGE WITH FILTER GUARD by Beaulieu et al. (the “'0303964 Application”), which is hereby incorporated by reference, discloses a more elongated filter compared to the filter disclosed in the '0051478 Application such that the space in the second chamber is minimized. With a bigger filter, more coffee grind may be inserted into the cartridge to brew a bigger and/or stronger cup of coffee. In order to protect the filter from the output needle piercing through the bottom of the filter, a filter guard is provided between the filter and the bottom of the cartridge so that the filter guard makes contact with the output needle to protect the filter. While providing a larger filter to hold more coffee grind somewhat enabled brewing a stronger tasting coffee or a larger cup of coffee, coffee made from the cartridge generally described in the '0303964 Application resulted in TDS levels of about 0.95%, which may be considered weak according the chart shown in FIG. 1. Accordingly, there still is a need to brew stronger tasting coffee using a single-serve cartridge.

As of 2013, the market leader of single-serve cartridge platform in North America is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters®, which sells its single-serve platform under the Keurig® brand name, collectively referred to as Keurig®. Keurig® offers over 200 varieties of single-serve cups, also known as K-Cup®, which works with several of Keurig’ s® brewers offered in the market today. There is estimated to be over 12 million U.S. households with Keurig® brewers in use largely due to its convenience where a single cup of coffee can be made without much of a cleanup. A good example of types of brewers offered by Keurig® is generally described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,347,138, which is incorporated by reference.

FIG. 1B is a copy of FIG. 3 of the U.S. Pat. No. 7,347,138. The brewer 10 includes a brew chamber 18 comprised of a cartridge receptacle 20 and a lid 22. The receptacle 20 has a removable holder 23 configured and dimensioned to receive a beverage filter cartridge 24. The holder 23 has a needle at the bottom to pierce through the bottom of the cartridge when the cartridge is pressed down into the holder. The cartridge 24 includes an outer container internally subdivided by a paper filter into two compartments: top and bottom compartments. The top compartment is defined by the shape of paper filter to hold coffee grind within the paper filter. The bottom compartment is a remaining empty space with enough space so that the bottom needle does not pierce the paper filter in order to prevent the coffee grind from washing out during the brewing process.

The holder 23 is removable so that it may be easily cleaned. One of the common elements of the brewers offered by Keurig® is that they all utilize essentially the same holder 23. The holder 23 is configured such that when the cartridge 24 is inserted into the holder 23, the cartridge 24 substantially fills the void within the holder 23 such that there is little gap between the holder 23 and the cartridge 24. This means that the outer shape of the cartridge 24 is constraint by the holder 23 such that cartridge 24 may not be enlarged, which means that there is a limit as to how much coffee grind that can be packed within the paper filter in the cartridge 24. As discussed above, without being able to enlarge the cartridge, only other option is to enlarge the paper filter as much as possible to hold more coffee grind to make a stronger cup of coffee, but doing so lowers the paper filter closer to the bottom needle, which increases the risk of the bottom needle piercing the paper filter. As discussed above, the cartridge disclosed in the '0303964 Application utilizes a filter guard to protect the paper filter from the bottom needle. While the cartridge disclosed in the '0303964 Application can hold more coffee grinds, there is still a limitation due to the fixed outer size of the cartridge 24. As such, there is a need to brew a stronger and bigger cup of coffee utilizing the Keurig's® brewers.

INVENTION SUMMARY

This invention is directed to a cartridge system adapted to brew a beverage through a brewer having a brewing chamber adapted to receive the cartridge system. The brewing chamber may have a deep well with one or more needles therewithin to pierce through the bottom of the cartridge system when inserted into the well. The cartridge system may include a cup having a base and a lip, a side wall between the lip and the base defining an interior space therewithin. A filter may have a deep bowl configuration with a bottom and a side wall that tappers up to form a rim. The rim of the filter is adapted to couple adjacent to the lip of the cup, and the bottom of the filter may be deep enough to be juxtaposed to the base of the cup. The filter may be formed from a material that is substantially resistant to piercing by the needle within the brewing chamber such that the bottom needle raises the filter at a point of contact, and the filter substantially resists the bottom needle from piercing through the filter during a brewing process.

With the bottom of the filter juxtaposed to the base of the cup, the filter may substantially fill the interior space of the cup to optimize the amount of beverage grind that the cartridge system may hold. The additional space within the filter relative to traditional cups, such as K-cup®, the heated water injected into the cartridge may have more space to circulate to evenly wash or extract the flavors from the beverage grind to provide a smoother tasting beverage.

The cartridge system may include a holder adapted to receive a first beverage cartridge and a second beverage cartridge. The second beverage cartridge may be longer along its longitudinal axis relative to the first beverage cartridge. The holder may have a side wall between a lip and a basin defining a well. The holder may also have a first needle and a second needle within the well, where the first needle is position between the lip and the second needle. The first needle may be adapted to pierce through the first beverage cartridge, and the second needle may be adapted to pierce through the second beverage cartridge.

A portion of the side wall of the second beverage cartridge may have a cavity along its longitudinal axis adapted to receive the first needle such that the first needle does not pierce through the cup. The second needle, however, may pierce through the bottom of the second beverage cartridge. The interior space of the second beverage cartridge may be about 20% to about 40% larger than the first beverage cartridge where its outer dimensions may be substantially similar to K-cup®. The extra space within the second beverage cartridge allows for brewing a bigger and/or stronger cup of beverage.

The cartridge system may also have a filter that divides the interior space of the cup between a first chamber and a second chamber. The first chamber may be substantially defined by the interior space of the filter, and the second chamber may be generally defined by the space between the bottom of the filter and the base of the cup. The first chamber may be packed with a first beverage grind such as coffee grind. The second chamber may be packed with a second beverage grind such as powder cream that substantially dissolve instantly as the heated beverage permeate out of the filter and into the second chamber so that the combination of the beverage and the dissolved powder cream does not clog the needle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like referenced numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1A shows a prior art graph illustrating strength and extraction relationship of coffee.

FIG. 1B shows an illustration of a prior art Keurig® brewer designed to brew a cup of coffee with a K-cup® or the like.

FIG. 2 shows an expanded view of a brewing system.

FIG. 3A shows a perspective view of a cup holder.

FIG. 3B shows another perspective view of the cup holder of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A shows a perspective view of a cup.

FIG. 4B shows another perspective view of the cup of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5A shows a perspective view of a filter.

FIG. 5B shows another perspective view of the filter of FIG. 5A.

FIG. 6 shows a cross-sectional view of the brewing system of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 shows another cross-sectional view of the brewing system of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8A shows a graph generally illustrating distribution of coffee grind sizes packed in a typical K-cup®.

FIG. 8B show a graph generally illustrating distribution of coffee grind sizes according to this invention.

FIG. 9 shows an expanded view of a taller cartridge system.

FIG. 10 shows a perspective view of a cup of the cartridge system of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 shows a cross-sectional view of the taller cartridge system of FIG. 9.

FIG. 12A shows a cross-sectional view of yet another cartridge system with a second beverage grind between a filter and a bottom of the cup.

FIG. 12B shows a cross-sectional view of a taller cartridge system with a second beverage grind between a filter and a bottom of the cup.

FIG. 13A is a perspective view of yet another cartridge system.

FIG. 13B is a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system of FIG. 13A.

FIG. 13C is another cross-sectional view of the cartridge system of FIG. 13A.

FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of another cup.

FIG. 15A shows a perspective view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 15B shows a side view of the cartridge system of FIG. 15A.

FIG. 15C shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system inserted into a holder.

FIG. 16 shows a cross-sectional view of another cartridge system inserted into a holder.

FIG. 17 is a perspective cross-sectional view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 18A is a cross-sectional view of still another cartridge system inserted into a holder.

FIG. 18B is a perspective view of an outer tall cup.

FIG. 19A is a perspective view of an interchangeable holder.

FIG. 19B is another perspective view of the interchangeable holder of FIG. 19A.

FIG. 19C is another perspective view of the interchangeable holder of FIG. 19A.

FIG. 19D is another perspective view of the interchangeable holder of FIG. 19A with the bottom funnel removed.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of another brewing system.

FIG. 21A is an expanded perspective view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 21B is an assembled perspective view of the cartridge system of FIG. 21A.

FIG. 22A is an expanded perspective view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 22B is a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system of FIG. 22A inserted to a holder.

FIG. 23 is an assembled perspective view of another cartridge system.

FIG. 24 is an assembled perspective view of yet another cartridge system.

FIG. 25A is a perspective view of another filter.

FIG. 25B is a cross-sectional view of the filter of FIG. 25A.

FIG. 26A is a cross-sectional view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 26B is a cross-sectional view of yet another cartridge system with an alternative filter design.

FIG. 27 is a cross-sectional view of still another cartridge system.

FIG. 28A is a perspective cross-sectional view of another cartridge system.

FIG. 28B is a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system of FIG. 28A.

FIG. 29 is a cross-sectional view of another tall cartridge system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 2 shows an expanded view of a cartridge system 100 adapted to brew a beverage. The cartridge system may include a cup 102 adapted to house a filter 104. The filter 104 may be adapted to hold beverage grind, such as grind coffee or tea, therewithin. A ring 106 may be coupled to a rim 108 of the filter 104, and as the filter is fitted inside the cup 102, the ring 106 may releasably engage with an inner ledge 110 formed within the cup 102. With beverage grind placed inside the filter 104, a cover 112 may enclose the cup 102 by sealing around the outer circumference 114 of the cover 112 to a rim 115 of the cup 102.

FIG. 2 also shows a holder 116 having a well 117 adapted to receive the cartridge system 100. The well 117 may be defined by a lip 118 with cavities 120 adapted to receive a pair of ears 122 from the cup 102. The lip 118 may also have a pointer mark 124 to define a first orientation 123 of the holder 116, and a second orientation 125, which may be on the opposite end of the lip 118. The cup 102 may have a ledge 126 with an opening 128 with its shape being substantially similar to the pointer mark 124 on the lip 118. As such, the cup 102 may be fully inserted into the holder 116 when the pair of ears 122 generally line up with the cavities 120, and the ledge 126 with the opening 128 on the cup to indicate to the user to point the ledge 126 towards the first orientation 123 of the holder 116 such that when the cup 102 is full inserted into the holder 116, the pointer mark 124 on the lip 118 may be seen through the opening 128. The cup 102 may have a base 129 sized to fit within the well 117 of the holder.

FIG. 3A shows a perspective interior view of the well 117 of the holder 116. Within the well, the holder 116 may have a first needle 130 and a second needle 132. The first needle 130 may be located towards the first orientation 123 of the holder 116. The holder 116 may have a stopper ledge 141 to support the first needle 130 such that the first needle 130 may be adjacent to the pointer mark 124 on the lip 118. The second needle 132 may be located towards the second orientation 125 of the holder 116, and the second needle 132 may protrude from the basin 143 of the holder. The well 117 may have one or more rib lines 134 along the longitudinal axis of the holder 116. The well 117 may have inner surface areas 119 segmented by the rib lines 134. The needle 130 may be adapted to pierce through the base 129 of the cup 102. The lip 118 may have tabs 136 adapted to engage with a brewer (not shown), which may inject hot water into the cartridge system 100.

FIG. 3B shows a bottom perspective view of the holder 116. The holder may have a bottom end 131 on the opposite side of the lip 118. The holder 116 may have a first funnel 133 coupled to the first needle 130 such that liquid may pass through the first needle 130 and exit through a first outlet 137. The holder 116 may have a second funnel 135 coupled to the second needle 132 such that liquid may pass through the second needle 132 and exit through a second outlet 139.

FIG. 4A shows a bottom perspective view of the cup 102. The cup 102 may have a base 129 defining a side wall 140 extending between the rim 115 and the base 129. A portion of the side wall 140 near the base 129 may have one or more corner 142 defining a target area 144 along the base 129 between the two corners 142. In general, the corners 142 may be mirror image of each other, and each of the corner 142 may have a bend 146 defining perpendicular walls 148. The target area 144 may be juxtaposed to the ledge 126. The base 129 may have one or more inner ribs 150, and the side wall 140 may have one or more inner ribs 152 along the longitudinal axis of the cup 140. As the cup 102 is inserted into the well 117 of the holder, the inner ribs 152 may accommodate the rib lines 134 within the well 117 of the holder 116; and the side wall 140 of the cup 102 may be adjacent to the inner surface area 119 of the well 117. The rim 115 may have a line of weakness 121so that the ledge 126 may be separated along the line of weakness 121 from the rim 115 by applying pressure on the ledge 126.

FIG. 4B shows a perspective view of the cup 102 where a basin 154 may be formed between the two corners 142. Channels 156 may be formed between two adjacent ribs 152 such that wider gaps may be formed between the channels 156 and the sidewall of the filter 104. This may allow the beverage permeating out of the filter 104 to flow down into the basin 154 with less resistance. Base channels 158 may also be formed on the base 129 between the inner ribs 150 to guide liquid or beverage on the base 129 toward the basin 154.

FIG. 5A shows a perspective view of the filter 104 with a side wall 161 that is folded such that the side wall 161 may be corrugated to form channels 160 between adjacent peaks 162 along the longitudinal axis of the filter 104. The ring 106 may be coupled to the rim 108 of the filter 104. The ring 106 may have an inner side 164 and an outer side 166. The rim 108 of the filter 104 may be coupled to the inner side 164 or the outer side 166. The rim 108 of the filter 104 may be coupled to the ring 106 through a variety of methods known to one skilled in the art, such as using adhesive or ultrasonic welding. It is also within the scope of the invention to have the rim 108 of the filter 104 to be sealed directly onto the inner wall of the cup near the inner ledge 110. The filter 104 may have a base 168 with an indentation 170 along the base 168 to accommodate the corners 142 of the cup 102 such that the filter 104 substantially fill the space within the cup 102.

FIG. 5B shows a top perspective view of the cup filter 104 with more detail view of the channels 160 and peaks 162. The indentation 170 along the portion of the base 162 may form a step 172, which may be supported by the corners 142 such that when the second needle 132 pierces through the basin 154 of the cup 102, the second needle does not pierce through the step 172 of the filter 104 thus eliminating the need for a filter guard as the one described in the '0303964 Application.

FIG. 6 shows cross-sectional views of the cartridge system 100 and the holder 116. The cartridge system 100 may be assembled by inserting the filter 104 into the cup such that the ring 106 may be press fitted into the inner ledge 110 to substantially minimize the hot water injected into the beverage grind in the filter 104 from passing through the gap between the ring 106 and the inner ledge 110. The step 172 of the filter 104 may rest on the corners 142 of the cup, and the base 162 of the filter 104 may be adjacent to the base 129 of the cup 104 such that the filter 104 substantially contours the inner surface of the cup 102. The inner ribs 150 on the base 129 may provide a gap between the base 162 of the filter 104 and the base 129 of the cup. Once the beverage grind has been poured into the filter 104, the outer circumference 114 of the cover 112 may be sealed over the rim 115 of the cup 102. The cover 112 may be sealed onto the cup 102 through a variety of methods known to one skilled in the art, such as adhesive and pressure sensitive adhesive so that the cover may be peeled off after use if desired. For instance, after the cartridge system 100 has been used to make a beverage, the ledge 126 may be broken off from the rim 115 along the line of weakness 121, and as the ledge 126 is lifted, the cover 112 may also peel off from the rim 115 of the cup. With the cover 112 removed, the filter 104 with the used beverage grind in the filter may be removed from the cup 102 by pulling on the ring 106; thus separating the cup 102 from cartridge system 100. The cup 102 may be made from recyclable material so that it can be recycled if desired.

To insert the cup 102 into the holder 116, the pair of ears 122 may be line up with the cavities 120 along the lip 118. The first needle 130 may be coupled to the stopper ledge 141 within the well 117. The first needle 130 may be coupled to the first tunnel 133, and once the first needle 130 pierce through the target area 144 of the cup 102, beverage may pass through the first needle 130 and exit through the first outlet 137. The second needle 132 may protrude from the basin 143 of the holder 116, and the second needle 132 may be coupled to the second funnel 135, and beverage may exit through a second outlet 139.

FIG. 7 shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 100 inserted into the holder 116. The cartridge system 100 may be inserted into the holder 116 such that the opening 128 may align with the pointer mark 124 on the lip 118 such that the ledge 126 may point towards the first orientation 123 relative to the holder 116. As the cartridge system 100 is inserted in the first orientation relative the holder 116, the first needle 130 may pierce through the target area 144 of the cup 102. The stopper ledge 141 of the holder 116 may abut against the target area 144 of the cup 102 to support the cup 102 within the holder 116. Note that the second needle 132 does not pierce the cartridge system 100.

A brewer system 180 may be provided to brew a beverage. The brewer system 180 may include an injection needle 182 adapted to pierce through the cover 112. The brewer system 180 may include a pump 184 to deliver heated liquid, such as water, though the injection needle 182, and into the cup 102. The solid direction arrows 186 may generally illustrate flow of hot liquid injected into the cup 102 to wash the beverage grind within the filter 104, and pass through the filter 104. The beverage may utilize the channels 160 to drop down into the base channels 158 of the cup 102, and exit through the first needle 130 to pass through the first channel 133 and exit through the first outlet 137.

FIG. 8A shows a graph generally representing distribution of grind sizes of a coffee formulation 190 provide in a single serve cartridge sold under the trade name of K-Cup® by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. The coffee grind sizes provided in the K-Cup® generally vary from about 0.35 mm to about 0.60 mm with a median grind size 192 being about 0.50 mm. While coffee brewed from K-Cup® provide adequate coffee strength, the brew time or flow rate of hot water through the K-Cup® is relatively short compared to a traditional drip coffee method. In addition, the narrow range of the coffee grind sizes may result in uneven saturation of the coffee grind such that an upper portion of the coffee grind may have greater extraction percentage compared to the lower portion of the coffee grind. This may result in low extraction of coffee from the coffee grind such that the TDS level may be low.

FIG. 8B shows a graph generally representing distribution of grind sizes of a coffee formulation 200 provide in a single serve cartridge in accordance with this invention including a first portion 202 and a second portion 204. The first portion 202 of the coffee grinds may be represented by a graph 206 where the grind sizes varies from about 0.18 mm to about 0.40 mm, and a median grind size 208 of about 0.32 mm. The second portion 204 of the coffee grinds may be represented by a graph 210 where the grind sizes varies from about 0.38 mm to about 0.95 mm, and a median grind size 212 of about 0.75 mm. It is within the scope of this invention to have broader and/or narrow grind sizes for the first potion 202 and the second portion 204 such that there may or may not be an overlap between the graphs 206 and 210. The weight ratio between the first and second portions may be from about 1:1 to about 3:1, and preferably about 2:1. The coffee formulation 200 may be provided in a variety of single cartridge system including K-Cup® and the cartridge system 100 described above.

The coffee formulation 200 may be formulated by grinding the first portion 202 within the grind sizes mentioned above, and grinding the second portion 204 within the grind sizes mentioned above. Thereafter, the proper weight ratio between the first and second portions, as discussed above, may be mixed together to formulate the coffee grind 200. In general, the median grind size 208 of the first portion 202 may be smaller than the median grind size 192, and the median grind size 212 of the second portion 204 may be larger than the median grind size 192. With a combination of distinct smaller and larger coffee grinds of the coffee formulation 200 compared to the coffee formulation 190, the hot liquid may more evenly saturate the coffee formulation 200 to extract more coffee from the combination of the coffee grinds, which may result in a stronger coffee. Moreover, the first portion 202 with smaller grind sizes compared to the coffee formulation 190 may slow down the flow of hot liquid through the coffee formulation 200, thus allowing more time for the hot liquid to extract the coffee beverage from the coffee formulation 200.

Table 1 below shows the test results of coffee brewed from coffee formulations 190 and 200. In preparation for the test, Starbucks'® Caffe Verona Dark roast K-Cups® were purchased, which is generally made in accordance to the cartridge described in the '0303964 Patent Application. The amount of coffee grind in each of the K-Cup® varied. To establish a common base line, aluminum foil cover was opened, and the coffee grinds were poured out and measured using a digital weight meter. An average weight was 12.3 grams of coffee grinds. Using this as a base line, 12.3 grams of same coffee grinds were poured back into empty K-Cup®, and resealed using a new aluminum foil with adhesive layer on one side. The aluminum cover was wrapped over the rim of the cup. Five K-Cups® were made with 12.3 grams of the same coffee grind in each K-Cup®, and they were labeled 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, and 5A.

From a Starbucks® store, a bag of Dark Caffe Verona® whole bean coffee was purchased. The whole beans were grinded using an Encore Coffee Grinder manufactured by Baratza®. This grinder has many settings to grind the coffee beans in different sizes. Setting the grinder to number 8 grinded the coffee to produce the grind sizes generally described in the first portion 202, and setting the grinder to number 22 grinded the coffee to produce the grind sizes generally described in the second portion 204. The assumption here is that using the same type of coffee beans “Dark Caffe Verona” from the same company, Starbucks®, for testing would minimize the variances in the testing.

After the first and second portions 202 and 204 were grinded, the coffee formulation 200 were made by mixing about 2:1 weight ratio of first and second portions, respectively. Using the same empty Starbucks' K-Cups®, five K-Cups® were refilled with 12.3 grams of the coffee formulation 200, and they were labeled 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and 5B. Then in alternating order, as noted below in Table 1, each K-Cups® were inserted into a Keurig® B70 brewer to make coffee. During each brewing cycle, the size of the coffee in (oz), temperature of the coffee in the cup, and the brew times were measured, as noted below.

TABLE 1
Type of CoffeeGram ofActualTempbrew
No.Cup TypegrindCoffeeBrewer(oz)(° C.)timeTDS
1ASBUX K-cupK-cup grind12.3B70777.5:350.98
1BSBUX K-cupcombo grind12.3B70779.0:421.06
2ASBUX K-cupK-cup grind12.3B70781.0:350.98
2BSBUX K-cupcombo grind12.3B70778.0:401.03
3ASBUX K-cupK-cup grind12.3B70781.0:340.97
3BSBUX K-cupcombo grind12.3B70778.0:401.05
4ASBUX K-cupK-cup grind12.3B70781.0:330.98
4BSBUX K-cupcombo grind12.3B70780.0:421.06
5ASBUX K-cupK-cup grind12.3B70780.0:340.99
5BSBUX K-cupcombo grind12.3B70778.0:431.10

After the 10 cups coffee were made, the coffee were allowed to cool to room temperature, then the TDS level were measured using a digital conductivity meter from HM Digital, Inc., model no. COM-100. As noted above, B70 consistently brewed same amount of coffee or about 7 oz. However, the average brew time for the coffee formulation 190 was about 34.2 seconds, while the average brew time for the coffee formulation 200 was about 41.4, which is about 7.2 seconds longer than the coffee formulation 190. The longer brew time may have contributed brewing a stronger coffee because the average TDS level for the coffee formulation 200 is about 1.06% compared to the average TDS level for the coffee formulation 190, which is about 0.98%. This means that the coffee formulation 200 brews about 8% stronger coffee compared to the coffee formulation 190 using same amount of coffee.

FIG. 9 shows an expanded view of a cartridge system 300 adapted to brew a beverage. The cartridge system 300 may include an elongated cup 302 adapted to house an elongated filter 304. The elongated filter 304 may be adapted to hold beverage grind, such as grinded coffee or tea, therewithin. A ring 106 may be coupled to a rim 308 of the elongated filter 304, and as the filter is fitted inside the elongated cup 302, the ring 106 may releasably engage with an inner ledge 310 formed within the elongated cup 302. With beverage grind placed inside the elongated filter 304, the cover 112 may enclose the elongated cup 302 by sealing an outer circumference 114 of the cover 112 around the rim 315 of the elongated cup 302. The holder 116 may be adapted to receive the cartridge system 300 within the well 117 such that the second needle132 may pierce a target area 312 on the base 314. The elongated cup 302 may have a side wall 316 between the rim 315 and the base 314. The side wall 316 may have a cavity 318 along a portion of the elongated cup 302 along its elongated axis below a ledge 326. The cavity 318 may be adapted to receive the first needle 130 such that the first needle 130 may not pierce the elongated cup 302 as discussed in more detail below.

FIG. 10 shows a bottom perspective view of the elongated cup 302 that may be similar to the cup 102 described above, except that the side wall 316 may have the cavity 318 extending partially along the longitudinal axis of the elongated cup 302 underneath the ledge 326, and the base 314 may have a recess 319 adapted to receive the first needle 130 as the cup 302 is inserted into the holder 116. The base 314 may have a target area 320 on the opposite side of the recess 319. The distance between the rim 315 and the base 314 of the elongated cup 302 may be greater than the distance between the rim 115 and the base 129 of the cup 102.

FIG. 11 shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 300 inserted into the holder 116. The cartridge system 300 may be inserted into the holder 116 such that an opening 328 within the ledge 326 may align with the pointer mark 124 on the lip 118 such that the cartridge system 300 may be inserted so that the ledge 326 points towards the first orientation 123 relative to the holder 116. As the cartridge system 300 is inserted towards the first orientation relative the holder 116, the cavity 318 of the elongated cup 302 may receive the first needle 130 without pierce the elongated cup 302. The second needle 132, however, may pierce the target area 320 of the elongated cup 302.

A brewer system 180 may be provided to inject hot water through the injection needle 182 adapted to pierce through the cover 112. The solid direction arrows 330 may generally illustrate flow of hot liquid injected into the elongated cup 302 to wash the beverage grind within the filter 304, and pass through the filter 304. The beverage may drop down into the base 314 of the cup 302, and exit through the second needle 132 to pass through the second channel 135 and exit through the second outlet 139. The elongated filter 304 may hold more beverage grind than the filter 104 so that a bigger cup of beverage may be brewed. Moreover, the elongated filter 304 may hold the coffee grind in an elongated form such that it may take longer time for hot water from the injection needle 182 to flow through the coffee grind and reach the second needle 132. The longer contact time between the hot water and the coffee grind may allow for greater extraction of coffee beverage from the coffee grind to brew stronger coffee. Note, it is within the scope of the invention to configure the elongated cup 304 to have both of the first and second needles 130 and 132 pierce the elongated cup 304.

FIG. 12A shows a cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 400. The cartridge system 400 may be similar to the cartridge system 100, as discussed above, except that a filter 404 within the cup 102 may be shorter than the filter 104 such that the cup 102 may be divided generally into a first chamber 406 and a second chamber 408. The first chamber 406 may be the space within the filter 404 adapted to hold a first beverage grind 410. The second chamber 408 may be the space between a bottom 409 of the filter 404 and the basin 154 of the cup 102. The second chamber 408 may hold a second beverage grind 412. For example, the first beverage grind 410 may be coffee grind, and the second beverage grind 412 may be powder creamer and/or sweetener.

Incorporating creamer in the second chamber 408 allows creamer to be added to the coffee beverage in one-step process. As hot water injected through the injection needle 182 extract coffee from the coffee grind 410 within the filter 404, the hot coffee beverage passes through the filter 404 and enters the second chamber 408, and dissolves the powder creamer 412. The combination of creamy coffee may then exits through the first needle 130. One of the desirable characteristics of powder creamer is to dissolve quickly and thoroughly so that the powder creamer does not clog up the first needle 130. In this regard, powder creamers used in instant coffee may be utilized. In particular, powder creamer made in accordance with Korean patent application publication number 1020120042406 with publication date of Mar. 5, 2012 entitled “PRODUCING METHOD OF COFFEE CREAMER POWDER HAVING IMPROVED MILK FLAVOR,” (the “'42406 Application”) may be used utilized, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Note, it is within the scope of this invention to incorporate a second beverage grind 412 into the second camber in the K-Cup®, which is the space between the bottom of the filter and the bottom of the cup. With a finite space in the K-Cup®, the weight ratio between the coffee grind in the filter and the creamer may vary. For instance, with the creamer described in the '42406 Application, the coffee grind to creamer weight ratio may be from about 2:1 to about 2:3, and in particular about 1:1. For instance, while taste can be subjective, a good milky coffee taste was obtain when 6.0 oz cup was brewed using about 10.0 grams of coffee grind in the first chamber, and about 9.0 grams of creamer in the second chamber using a K-Cup®. While it was possible to add more coffee grind and creamer into the first and second chambers, respectively, doing so may in some instances cause the coffee grind and creamer to be too closely packed together within the K-Cup®. This increased the resistance to flow of hot water through the coffee grind such that hot water may leak out through the gap between the injection needle 182 and the cover 112. Moreover, adding more creamer to the second chamber, in some instance, caused the creamer to not dissolve thoroughly such that clumps of creamer were left in the bottom of the cup. As such, in some instances, adding more creamer had the opposite effect in that less milky flavor were detected in the coffee because not all of the powder cream dissolved into the coffee.

FIG. 12B shows a cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 500. The cartridge system 500 may be similar to the cartridge system 300, as discussed above, except that the filter 104 may be incorporated into the cup 302 to generally divide the elongated cup 302 into a first chamber 506 and a second chamber 508. The first chamber 506 may be the space within the filter 104 to hold more beverage grind than the cartridge system 400, and hold more creamer in the second chamber 508. This allows the cartridge system 500 to brew a bigger cup of coffee with creamer in one-step process compared to the cartridge system 400. In addition to incorporating creamer and sweetener in the second chamber 508, other taste flavoring may be added to enhance the taste the beverage. Moreover, scent enhancing materials may be added in the second chamber to enhance the aroma scent of coffee to intensify the aroma smell from the cup of coffee.

FIG. 13A shows a perspective view of a cartridge system 600 similar to the cartridge system 400, as discussed above, with the following differences. The cartridge system 600 includes a filter 602 within a cup 604. The rim 606 of the filter 602 may be sealed around the inner edge 608 located adjacent to the rim 610 of the cup 604. The cup 604 may not have corners 142 along the bottom, as described in reference to the cup 102, to maximize the space of the second chamber, as discussed in more detail below. The cup 604 may be sized to have similar dimensions as K-Cup® such that the outer diameter D1 adjacent to the rim 610 of the cup may be from about 40.0 mm to about 47.0 mm, and in particular about 45.5 mm. The bottom outer diameter D2 may be from about 34.0 mm to about 38.0 mm, and in particular about 36.5 mm.

FIG. 13B shows a cross-section view of the cartridge system 600 along the line 13-13 of FIG. 13A. The filter 606 within the cup 604 may be shorter than the filter 104 such that the cup 604 may be divided generally into a first chamber 612 and a second chamber 614. The second chamber 614 may be filled with the second beverage grind 412 such as powder creamer and/or sweetener to a level H3 from a basin 616 of the cup 604. The filter 602 may be sized to substantially fill the remaining space within the cup 604 such that a distance between the rim 610 of the cup and a bottom 618 of the filter 602 may be about H2. The filter 602 may be sealed to the inner edge 608 of the cup after the second beverage grind 412 is filled within the second chamber 614 such that the bottom 618 of filter may be substantially horizontal relative to the basin 616. The height of the cup 604 between a bottom 620 and the rim 610 of the cup 604 is H1. The distance H1 may be from about 43.0 mm to about 46.0 mm, and in particular about 44.5 mm. In situations where the bottom 618 of the filter 602 substantially makes contact with the second beverage grind 412, the H1 may be about the sum of H2 and H3.

In applications where the system 600 is used for brewing creamy coffee in one-step, the distance H3 may be about 30% to about 60% relative to the distance H1; and in particular, the distance H3 may be about 40% to about 50% relative to the distance H1. The distance H3 may vary depending on the desired creamy flavor of the coffee, where adding more cream, or increasing H3, relative to the coffee grind may add more creamy flavor to the coffee, and vice versa. The distance H2 may be about 40% to about 70% relative to the distance H1; and in particular, the distance H2 may be about 50% to about 60% relative to the distance H1. The cup 604 may also have the volume ratio between the first and second chambers 612 and 614 from about 3:7 to about 6:4, and in particular from about 2:3 to about 1:1.

The distance H1 may be greater than the sum of H2 and H3 such that there may be a gap between the bottom 618 of the filter 602 and the secondary beverage grind 412. Providing a gap or space between the filter 602 and the secondary beverage grind 412 may improve the dissolvability of powder cream within the second chamber 614. This may be due to providing extra space within the second chamber 614, which may improve the dissolvability of the power cream.

FIG. 13C shows a cross-section view of a cartridge system 600 with the filter 606 within the cup 604 holding coffee grind 607, and the second chamber 614 may have a pouch 615 filled with the second beverage grind 412 such as powder creamer and/or sweetener. The pouch 615 may be a mesh filter to contain the powder creamer therein and allow the powder creamer to permeate when dissolved with hot water. The pouch 615 may be sized to contain the second beverage grind 412 to substantially prevent the grind 412 from making contact with the filter 606 thereby providing a space 618 between the filter 606 and pouch 615. Providing a gap or space between the filter 606 and the grind 412 may improve the dissolvability of the powder grind 412. Moreover, the pouch 615 may be made of a mesh filter material that may substantially resist being punctured by the first needle 130 at the bottom of the cup holder 116 such that the pouch 615 conforms around the needle 130, as shown in FIG. 13C. This may substantially prevent the dry powder cream from passing through the needle 130 and dropping into the cup before the powder cream dissolve into liquid form. However, it is within the scope of the invention to have the needle 130 pierce through the pouch 615.

The amount of powder cream within the second chamber 614 and/or pouch 615 may vary depending on the desired creamy and/or sweetness flavor. As a way of background, Keurig® brewers for K-Cups® generally takes about 30 to about 35 seconds for hot water to pass through the K-Cup® for about an 8 oz cup of beverage. The powder cream may be formulated and the amount of powder cream within the second chamber 614 and/or pouch 615 may be such that the powder cream substantially dissolves less than about 25 seconds for an 8 oz cup of beverage so that the bottom needle may be rinsed or purged with the remaining 5 to 10 seconds with hot beverage. This allows the bottom needle to be substantially kept clean so that in the next brew cycle, the beverage may have minimal powder creamy residue.

FIG. 14 shows the bottom 620 of the cup 604 having a circular line of weakness 622. The cup 604 may be made from a recyclable material, which may be harder than the non-recyclable material. With the harder material, it may take more downward force to have the bottom needle pierce through the bottom 620 of the cup 604 near the target area 624, which may dull the tip of the needle. The line of weakness 622 may circle the target area 624 to minimize the force it takes to pierce through the target area 624. Alternatively, a hole may be formed on the target area and the hole may be sealed with an aluminum foil so that the bottom needle may pierce through the aluminum foil with nominal force.

FIG. 15A shows a perspective view of a cartridge system 700 including a cup 702 with a side wall 704 between a rim 706 and a bottom 708. The system 700 may include a lid 710 to cover the rim 706 to hold the beverage medium within the cup 702. The side wall 704 may be integrated with filter elements 712 between ribs 714. The ribs 714 may substantially extend between the rim 706 and the bottom 708. The bottom 708 may be a solid base or integrated with filter element as well. The cup 702 may have a recess 716 formed along the bottom 708 and the side wall 702 adapted to receive the bottom needle when the cup 702 is inserted into the cup holder 116 such that the bottom needle does not pierce the cup 702. The lid 710 may have a ledge 719 to indicate the proper orientation of the cartridge system 700 so that the cartridge system 700 may be inserted in the proper orientation within the holder 116 such that the bottom needle is within the recess 716 of the cup 702.

FIG. 15B shows a side view of the cartridge system 700 with the filter elements 712 integrated between the ribs 714. The cup 702 may be sized to substantially fill the well 117 of the cup holder 116 to maximize the amount of coffee grind the cup 702 can hold. The ribs 714, rim 706, and the bottom 708 may be made from a plastic material, and the filter may be made from a mesh with sufficient pores to allow the beverage to pass therethrough while keeping the beverage medium therein.

FIG. 15C shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 700 within a cup holder 718. The cup holder 718 may have a first outlet needle 720 and a second outlet needle 722. The first outlet needle 720 may be located between a lip 724 of the holder 718 and the second outlet needle 722 along a longitudinal axis 726 of the holder 718. The lip 724 may also have an pointer mark 728 to orient the cartridge system 700 in the direction where the ledge 719 faces the pointer mark 728 such that when the cartridge system 700 is inserted into the cup holder 718, the first outlet needle 720 is within the recess 716 of the cup 702. With the filter element 712 integrated within the side wall 704, the space within the cup 702 may be enlarged to hold more of the beverage medium 730.

FIG. 16 shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 800 within the cup holder 718. The cartridge system 800 includes a cup 802 with a side wall 804 between a rim 806 and a bottom 808. The cup 802 may be longer relative to the cup 702 such that the bottom 808 of the cup may be adjacent to the base 732 of the cup holder 718. The side wall 804 may be integrated with filter elements 812 between ribs 814. The cup 802 may be configured to not interfere with the first and second outlet needles 720 and 722. With the cup 802 being taller than the cup 702, the cup 802 may hold more beverage medium such as coffee grind. In particular, the median coffee grind size in the cartridge system 800 may be larger than the median coffee grind size used in the cup 702 or in K-Cup® by about 10% to about 30% to minimize the resistance to flow of hot water flowing from top to bottom.

FIG. 17 shows a perspective cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 900. The cartridge system 900 includes a cup 902 adapted to receive a filter 904. The filter 904 may have a rim 906 sized to press fit into an inner ledge 910 of the cup 902. The filter 904 may have a side wall 912 between the rim 906 and a bottom 914. The filter 904 may be integrated with filter elements 916 between ribs 918. The filter 904 may have a recess 920 formed along the bottom 914 and the side wall 912 adapted to receive the bottom needle when the cup 902 is inserted into the cup holder 718 such that the bottom needle does not pierce the cup 902.

FIG. 18A shows a perspective cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 1000. The cartridge system 1000 includes a cup 1002 adapted to receive a filter 1004. The cartridge system 1000 may be taller than the cartridge system 900 such that the cup 1002 and filter 1004 are longer than the cup 902 and filter 904 adapted to hold more beverage medium such as coffee grind. The filter 1004 may be configured to not interfere with the second outlet needle 722.

FIG. 18B shows an outer configuration of the cup 1002 adapted to fit inside the cup holder 718. The cup may have a base 1003 and a lip 1005, and a side wall 1009 between the lip and the base. The side wall 1009 may have a cavity 1011 along the longitudinal axis of the cup 1002 forming a substantial recess 1013 on the base 1003. The size of the recess 1013 may be substantially greater than the size of the cavities 1015 formed between two adjacent ribs 1017. The cavity 1011 may be adapted to receive the first outlet needle 720 such that the needle 720 does not pierce the cup. However, it is within the scope of the invention to have both the first and second outlet needles pierce the cup. Conversely, it is within the scope of the invention to not have the first and second outlet needles pierce the cup such as when a mesh cup is used.

FIGS. 19A-19C show a various perspective views of the cup holder 718 having the first and second outlet needles. The cup holder 718 may have a main body 740 and a funnel 742 releasably coupled to the main body 740. FIG. 19D shows a perspective view of the main body 740 without the funnel. The outer shape of the cup holder 718 may be substantially similar to the cup holder 23 provided with Keurig® brewers, as discussed above in reference to FIG. 1B, such that the cup holders 718 and 23 may be interchangeable without interfering with the closing and opening actuation of the lid 22 and receptacle 20 of the brewer 10. This allows some 12 million U.S. households with a Keurig's® brewer to be compatible with K-Cups® and cartridge systems 100, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and 1000, as discussed above. This would allow the Keurig® brewers to brew not only small cup of coffee but a larger and stronger cup of coffee with the taller cartridge systems 300, 800, and 1000. In addition, coffee mixed with cream and/or sweetener may be brewed in one-step with the cartridge systems 400, 500, and 600. Note that it is within the scope of the invention to interchange the various filters disclosed in this application to have coffee and creamer integrated into one cartridge system.

The following methods may be utilized to replace the cup holder 23 provided with Keurig® brewers with the cup holder 718. The method may include: providing an interchangeable cup holder with a first needle and a second needle, the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; providing an instruction to remove the cup holder provided with the Keurig® brewer; and providing an instruction to insert the interchangeable cup holder into the Keurig® brewer.

A method of replacing the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer may include: providing an interchangeable cup holder with a first needle and a second needle, the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; and providing an instruction to replace the cup holder provided with the Keurig® brewer with the interchangeable cup holder.

Another method of replacing the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer may include: providing an interchangeable cup holder with a first needle and a second needle, the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; removing the cup holder provided with the Keurig® brewer; and inserting the interchangeable cup holder into the Keurig® brewer.

Another method of replacing the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer may include: providing an interchangeable cup holder with a first needle and a second needle, the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; and replacing the cup holder provided with the Keurig® brewer with the interchangeable cup holder.

A method of exchanging the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer with an interchangeable cup holder may include: stocking a plurality of interchangeable cup holders, each of the interchangeable cup holder having a first needle and a second needle, each of the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and each of the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; offering to exchange the cup holder provided with the Keurig® brewer with the interchangeable cup holder; and shipping the interchangeable cup holder to a Keurig® brewer owner when the owner requests the exchange.

A method of providing an interchangeable cup holder may include: providing an interchangeable cup holder with a first needle and a second needle, the interchangeable cup holder having a lip and a base, the first needle located between the lip and the second needle, and the interchangeable cup holder having an outer configuration that is substantially similar to the outer configuration of the cup holder provided with a Keurig® brewer; packing a plurality of cartridge systems into a container, each of the cartridge system having a cup with a rim and a bottom, the second needle adapted to pierce the bottom of the cup when the cup is inserted into the interchangeable cup holder; and inserting the interchangeable cup holder into the container.

FIG. 20 shows a brewing chamber system 800 including a cup holder 802 adapted to receive a cartridge 804. The cup holder 802 may be substantially similar to the holder 23 as discussed above in reference to FIG. 1B provided with a Keurig® brewer with the following difference. The cup holder 802 may have a needle 806 with one or more tabs 808 protruding out from the well 810. The cartridge 804 may have an outer configuration that is substantially similar to an outer configuration of K-Cup® with the following difference. The cartridge 804 may have one or more indentation corners 812 at the juncture between the base 814 and the side wall 816. The cartridge 804 may have a ledge 818 to orient the cartridge 804 so that the cartridge 804 may be inserted into the cup holder 802 with the ledge oriented towards the pointer mark 820 on the cup holder 802.

When the cartridge 804 is inserted into the cup holder 802, the needle 806 may pierce a target area 822 on the base 814, and the indentation corners 812 may receive the tabs 808 to allow the needle 806 to fully pierce through the target area 822. With the brewing chamber system 800, the traditional K-cups® without the corners 812 may not fully fit inside the cup holder 802 due to the tabs 808 substantially blocking the base or bottom of the traditional K-cups® from being fully inserted. With the brewer chamber system 802, the cup holder 802 and the cartridge 804 may function as a lock and key system such that unauthorized cartridges, without the corners 812, may not work with the cup holder 802. Note that it is within the scope of the invention to utilize a variety of other lock and key features such that only authorized cartridges may be fully inserted into a cup holder such as the cup holder 802. For instance, it is within the scope of the invention to have one tab 808, and the tab 808 may be located anywhere in the bottom of the cup holder. In addition, other protrusion element may be provided within the well 810 to function as a lock, and the cartridge 804 may have corresponding indentation adapted to receive the protrusion so that the cartridge may be fully inserted into the well 810 to allow the needle 806 to pierce the target area 822.

With the K-cup® patents, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,840,189 and 5,325,765, now expired, many unauthorized alternative cartridge may be introduced to work with Keurig® brewers. In order to prevent the unauthorized generic cartridges from working with the Keurig® brewers, the cup holders provided with the Keurig® brewers already in the market place, such as the holder 23, may be replaced with a cup holder specially configured to work with an authorized cartridge such as the cup holder 802 and the cartridge 804.

FIG. 21A shows an expanded perspective view of a cartridge system 900 including a rib cage 902 with a plurality of ribs 904 extending from a rim 906 and converging at a bottom 908. The rim 906 may have a ledge 910 to orient the cartridge system 900 in the proper direction when inserting the cartridge system 900 into the cup holder 718. The rib cage 902 may have a shield 912 between two adjacent ribs 904 near the ledge 910. The rib cage 902 may be adapted to receive a filter mesh 914 having a rim 916. The filter mesh 914 may be flexible and inserted into the rib cage 902, and the rim 916 of the filter 914 may be coupled or sealed to the rim 906 of the rib cage 902. Once the filter mesh 914 is inserted into the rib cage 904, the filter mesh 914 may conform to the shape of the rib cage 904 such that the filter mesh 914 may form a recess 918 due to the shield 912. The recess area 918 may be adapted to receive the bottom needle when the cartridge system 900 is inserted into the cup holder 718 such that the bottom needle does not pierce the filter mesh 914. The cartridge system 900 may include a lid 920 adapted to seal the rim 906 of the rib cage 904. The cartridge system 900 filled with coffee grind within the filter 914 may be placed inside a pouch and sealed to keep the coffee grind fresh.

FIG. 21B shows a perspective view of an assembled cartridge system 900 with the filter mesh 914 within the rib cage 902, and the lid 920 enclosing the rim 906 of the rib cage 902 and/or rim 916 of the filter 914. The filter mesh 914 conforms to the shape of the shield 912 to form the recess area 918. The ribs 904 may join at the bottom 908 such that the filter mesh 914 at the bottom may be porous to allow beverage to permeate.

FIG. 22A shows an expanded perspective view of a cartridge system 1000 that is similar to the cartridge system 900 described above with the following differences. The cartridge system 1000 includes a rib cage 1002 with a plurality of ribs 1004 adapted to receive the filter mesh 1008. The ribs 1004 may converge at a bottom 1006 forming a nipple like configuration. The rib cage 1002 and the filter mesh 1008 may be longer than the rib cage 902 and the filter 914 so that the filter mesh 1008 may hold more beverage grind. The cartridge system 1000 may have a lid 1010 to seal the rim 1015 of the rib cage 902.

FIG. 22B shows a cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 1000 within the cup holder 718. The cartridge system 1000 may be configured such that the first and second outlet needles 720 and 722 may not pierce the filter mesh 1008. Hot water injected through the top needle 182 may pass through the beverage grind and pass through the filter mesh 1008 as indicated by direction arrows 1012 and drip down into a cup. The bottom 1006 having a nipple configuration may allow the beverage to flow down smoothly. It is within the scope of this invention for the cartridge system 1000 to be used as a reusable refill cup where the lid 1010 may be pivotably coupled to the rim 1015 at a pivot axis 1011 to allow the lid to open and close. A user may open the lid 1010, fill the cup with its own coffee grind, and close the lid to substantially seal the coffee grind within the cup. The lid 1010 may have a deep cavity 1013 adapted to receive the needle 182 without piercing the lid. The deep cavity 1013 may be porous to allow the heated water from the needle 182 to pass therethrough.

FIG. 23 shows a perspective view of a cartridge system 1100 that is similar to the cartridge system 1000 described above except that a rib cage 1102 may have a skirt 1104 extending down from a rim 1106, and ribs 1108 extending down from the skirt 1104. The skirt 1104 may substantially prevent beverage from permeating through the top portion of the filter mesh 1008 such that the beverage permeates through the open filter mesh areas 1110. This may allow the beverage grind within the filter mesh 1008 to be more evenly saturated or washed with hot water. Without the skirt 1104, the beverage grind near the bottom portion of the filter mesh 1008 may increase the resistance to flow of liquid such that the beverage grind near the bottom portion may not get sufficient saturation from the hot water injected through the top needle 182. In addition, to allow more even saturation along the longitudinal axis of the filter mesh 1008, the median coffee grind size in the cartridge system 1100 may be larger than the median coffee grind size used in the cup 702 or in K-cup® by about 10% to about 30% to minimize the resistance to flow of hot water flowing from top to bottom.

FIG. 24 shows a perspective view of a cartridge system 1200 having a skirt 1202 with a sinusoidal configuration with length L, a width W1, and a gap between two adjacent waves being W2. The variables L, W1, and W2 may be adjusted to evenly saturate the beverage grind within the filter mesh 1008. The cartridge system 1200 may have a lid

FIG. 25A shows an elongated plastic filter 1300 with pours 1302 sized to allow beverage to pass therethrough while containing the beverage grind therewithin. The number of pours or density of pours may increase from the rim 1304 to the bottom 1306 to compensate for the increase in resistance to flow of liquid due the beverage grind formed in an elongated fashion due to the elongated filter 1300.

FIG. 25B shows a side view of the plastic filter 1300 with number of pours 1302 varying along the length L from the rim 1304 to the bottom 1306. The graph on the right shows that the density or number of pours 1302 may vary linearly as shown by the graph 1308, in steps as shown by the graph 1310, and non-linearly as shown by the graph 1312. In addition, for elongated filter 1300, the size of the beverage grind within the filter 1300 may vary along the length L as shown in graphs 1308, 1310, and 1312 to compensate for the resistance to flow of liquid deeper into the filter or as L increases. This may allow the hot liquid from the top needle to more evenly saturate the beverage grind in the filter to brew more full body or even taste.

FIG. 26 shows a cross-sectional view an elongated cartridge system 1400 adapted to fit inside the cup holder 718. The cartridge system 1400 may include an elongated cup 1402 adapted to house an elongated filter 1404, and a lid 1406 to enclose the rim 1408 of the cup 1402. The cup 1402 may be sized to fit inside the cup holder 718 such that the bottom 1410 of the cup 1402 may be pierced by the second needle 722 when the cartridge system 1400 is inserted into the cup holder 718. By way of background, traditional K-Cups® hold about 10 to 13 grams of coffee grind within the filter. With the traditional K-Cups® being shorter than the elongated cartridge system 1400, the coffee grind in the K-Cups® are held in a short cylindrical fashion. This means that the hot water from the top needle travels a shorter distance from the top to bottom of the coffee grind in the K-Cups® compared to the cartridge system 1400. Put differently, the wash time or contact time between the hot water and the coffee grind is relatively short because the travel distance is short. This may result in a less than full extraction of coffee flavor from the coffee grind.

To increase the wash time between the hot water and the coffee grind, the filter 1404 may be elongated and configured to hold about 10 to 13 grams of coffee grind in an elongated form from the rim 1412 to the bottom 1414 of the filter 1404. This may mean that the diameter D of the filter 1404 may be smaller such that substantial gap 1416 may be formed between the filter 1404 and the cup 1402. With the increase wash time, more flavor may be extracted from the same coffee grind to brew a more flavorful cup of beverage such as coffee. As discussed above in reference to FIG. 25B, the grind size may be varied to provide a more even saturation of the coffee grind within the filter 1404.

FIG. 26B shows a cross-sectional view of an elongated cartridge system 1500 that is similar to the cartridge system 1400 expect that the rim 1412 of the filter 1404 may be coupled to the lid 1406 such that the rim 1412 of the filter 1404 is within the rim 1408 of the cup 1402.

FIG. 27 shows a cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 1600 including a cup 1602 divided generally into a first chamber 1604 and a second chamber 1606. The first chamber 1604 may be defined by the space within the filter 1608 adapted to hold a first beverage grind 1610. The second chamber 1606 may be the remaining space within the cup 1602. The second chamber 1606 may hold a second beverage grind 1612. For example, the first beverage grind 1610 may be coffee grind, and the second beverage grind 1612 may be powder creamer and/or sweetener. The cartridge system 1600 may include a lid 1614 adapted to seal around the rim 1616 of the cup 1602. The lid 1614 may also have an inner flow distributor 1618 adapted to expand within the first chamber 1604. A portion of the rim 1619 of the filter 1608 may be sealed to the lid 1614 such that there is a space 1621 between the rim 1619 of the filter 1608 and the rim 1616 of the cup 1602.

The cartridge system 1600 may be adapted to work with a brewer system that orients the cartridge system 1600 in an angle 0 from a horizontal plane 1623 where direction arrow 1620 generally indicates the direction of gravity. The brewer system may provide a first needle 1622 adapted to pierce the lid 1614 such that the tip 1624 of the first needle 1622 expands the inner flow distributor 1618 and is guarded by the inner flow distributor 1618 such that the first beverage grind 1610 does not clog the first needle 1622. The brewer system may also provide a second needle 1626 that pierces the lid 1614 at the space 1621 to drain the beverage within the cup 1602. As the first needle 1622 injects hot water into the filter 1608, the extracted beverage may permeate through the filter 1608 and dissolve the second beverage grind 1612, such as powder creamer, and the combination of beverage flavor may exit through the second needle 1626 as indicated by the direction arrows 1628.

FIG. 28A shows a perspective cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 1700 including a cup 1702 housing a filter 1704. The rim 1706 of the filter 1704 may be sealed around the inner edge 1708 of the cup located adjacent to the rim 1710 of the cup 1702. The cup 1702 may be sized to have similar dimensions as K-Cup®. The filter 1704 may be configured to substantially fill the interior space of the cup 1702 such that the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 may be juxtaposed to the basin 1714 of the cup 1702 to substantially maximize the interior space 1716 of the filter 1704. This allows ease in which to pack the cup 1702 with beverage grind and to pack as much as possible the beverage grind therein. The basin 1714 of the cup 1702 may have one or more ribs 1718 to provide a passageway 1720 between the ribs for the beverage permeating out of the filter 1704 to flow therethrough. Note that it is within the scope of this invention to have a certain portion of the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 be in contact with the basin 1714 of the cup. Alternatively, a gap may be formed between the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 and throughout the basin 1724 such no bottom portion 1712 of the filter 1704 is in contact with the basin 1714.

FIG. 28B shows a side cross-sectional view of the cartridge system 1700 with the top needle 182 piercing through a top cover 1722, and the bottom needle 130 piercing through the basin 1714. The bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 may be juxtaposed to the basin 1714 such that when the bottom needle 130 piercing through the basin 1714, the bottom needle 130 may push the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 up, as indicated by a raised portion 1724, without piercing through the raised portion of the filter 1704 at a point of contact 1724 as shown in FIG. 28B.

The filter 1704 may be formed from a material that is substantially resistance to piercing by the bottom needle 130 while allowing the beverage liquid to permeate therethrough during the brewing process. The pressure within the cartridge may increase substantially during the brewing process for the following reasons: (1) as heated water is injected into the cartridge through the top needle, the beverage grind generally expands as the grind absorb heated water; (2) the heated water fills the spaces within the cartridge, thus exerting outer pressure; and (3) the heat from the hot water increases the pressure within the cup. These factors apply pressure on the filter to expand during the brewing process such that a filter made of a weak material like the paper filter used in a K-cup® may tear when pressed against a sharp object like the bottom needle. This would result in the beverage grind being poured into a mug, which is undesirable. As such, the filter according to this invention may be made from a cotton fabric material such as muslin cotton, synthetic material such as nylon, or paper material engineered to be resistant to piercing or tearing yet allowing the beverage liquid to permeate therethrough. Note that it is within the scope of the invention to use a variety of filter material that is known to one skilled in the art that is substantially resistant to piercing by the bottom needle 130 due to the pressure applied to the filter due to the bottom needle piercing through the cup and during the brewing process. With regard to the cartridge system 1700, the gap between the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 and the basin 1714 may be generally described as a space in which the bottom needle 130 may make contact with the bottom 1712 of the filter 1704 after the bottom needle 130 has been fully inserted into the bottom of the cup.

FIG. 29 shows a perspective cross-sectional view of a cartridge system 1800 including a cup 1802 housing a filter 1804 where the filter 1804 substantially fills the interior space 1806 of the cup. The bottom 1808 of the filter 108 may be juxtaposed to the basin 1810 of the cup 1802 with the filter material substantially resistant to piercing by the bottom needle in a manner similar to the cartridge system 1700 discussed above in reference to FIG. 28. The cup 1802 and the filter 1804, however, may be longer along its longitudinal axis 1812 relative to the cup 1702 and the filter 1704.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible within the scope of this invention. For instance, the powder creamer may be provided in a tablet form or in a pouch to easily insert into the cup. The cartridge system may not include a filter such that the cup holds a beverage grind that may be formulated to dissolve in such a way that the beverage does not clog the bottom needle. With the tall cup being able to hold greater amount of the beverage grind, a bigger cup of beverage may be brewed such as milk and soup. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents.