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Senseo coffee makers, or more formally, the Senseo One Cup Coffee Brewing System, were born of the marriage between one of Europe’s most respected coffee companies and an equally respected European small appliance company. This is the story of how the Senseo coffee brewing system came about.
Once upon a time, there was a coffee company named Douwe (pronounced Dewey) Egberts. It began as a small coffee shop owned by Egbert Douwes in The Netherlands way back in 1753. When his son joined the company in 1780, the little company began to grow. The pair opened shops in other cities and expanded the name of Douwe Egberts far and wide, creating a reputation for fine coffee. In the 1800s, Douwe Egberts expanded across The Netherlands, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that the company began to sell coffee in other European countries. In 1978, international food giant Sara Lee bought the Douwe Egberts company. The new company, Sara Lee/DE, has become the second largest coffee roaster in the world, marketing in countries on all of the continents. When Sara Lee decided to enter the coffee maker field, the company looked around for a partner with experience in making small appliances, especially coffee makers. They found Royal Phillips Electric.
Royal Phillips Electric
Way back in 1891, Gerard Phillips had a small business focused on making light bulbs and other technical electronic equipment. Phillips was a creative and innovative small company and it wasn’t long before the company had expanded its line of electrical products to include vacuum tubes for radios and other small electrical components. The company acquired a reputation for innovation and excellence, and in 1939, Royal Phillips began to market its own brand of electric shaver. Royal Phillips shavers are still sold in the US under the Norelco name.
Among the innovations that have come out of the Phillips lab are the audio tape and the compact disc, which the company developed in partnership with Sony. Since 2001, Royal Phillips Electric has won over 60 international design awards for various small electric appliances and personal care appliances.
Senseo Coffee Makers
In the late 1990s, Sara Lee approached Royal Phillips about developing a single serve coffee system to be marketed for use with their Douwe Egberts coffee. The new system, the Senseo Single Serve Coffee Brewing System, was introduced as a joint effort between the two companies in 2001. The SENSEO was introduced in The Netherlands in 2001 and became available in the US in 2004.
The heart of the SENSEO coffee system is the patented Senseo coffee brewer and coffee pod. The Senseo pod holds a premeasured amount of coffee, cocoa or tea, and fits into the Senseo brewer. The brewer heats water to the precise temperature for brewing the specific beverage in the pod. The soul of the SENSEO coffee system, of course, is the coffee, provided by Douwe Egberts in a wide range of flavors and roasts. Douwe Egberts offers a standard menu of coffees for use with the Senseo coffee maker which includes Sumatran, Kenya, Brazil and Colombian coffee blends as well as several specialty coffees. The company’s signature Cafe Noir is a smooth, dark, sweet blend with a hint of chocolate flavor, and is one of the SENSEO coffee makers best selling coffee pod blends.
Sara Lee/DE had filed a patent for the coffee pod making system with the Belgian patent office in 1998. Shortly after the SENSEO hit the market in Europe, the patent was challenged in court by other coffee companies who realized that the patent prevented them from making coffee pods to fit the SENSEO and possibly other coffee pod systems. The challenge was successful, and as of 2004, other companies have the right to manufacture and market coffee pods that fit the SENSEO coffee maker. In the past few years, several companies have even invented and marketed devices that allow consumers to make their own SENSEO coffee pods at home with their favorite coffee and teas.
– SENSEO Coffee Brewing System