Can a Coffee Company Upstage Apple's New iPhone?

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. single-serve coffee capsules are arranged for a photograph in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. Green Mountain, based in Waterbury, Vermont, has been facing increasing competition from private-label capsules made by Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. that fit into Keurig brewers. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In retrospect, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters may have picked a lousy day to host its first ever investor summit.

The company behind the Keurig single-cup coffee brewer chose Sept. 10 to host investors, analysts and journalists as it talks up its java-rich past and unveils what's brewing in the future.

That also happens to be the widely sourced date of Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone media event.

We know where headlines will be made.

Apple shares peaked above $700 the morning that the iPhone 5 came out. Fans and investors alike have been hungry for innovation out of Apple as profit margins have contracted and the tech giant has surrendered market share in the smartphone space.

However, don't dismiss Green Mountain's potential to make things interesting. There are some neat things in the works at the Vermont-based company that created a new market with its single-serve brewers just as Apple did with the iPhone and iPad.

Brewing Liquid Gold

Green Mountain (GMCR) is no stranger to the beverage market outside of the premium blasts of coffee that consumers associate with the Keurig brand. The company has sold K-Cup portion packs to make tea, cocoa and even apple cider for years.

However, Green Mountain aimed to expand its market a couple of years ago when it introduced a Brew Over Ice line of K-Cups offering iced teas, chilled coffees and even pre-sweetened fruit drinks. It's a simple process. Consumers are asked to fill up a 16-ounce glass with ice to cool down the beverage that is brewed hot just like its traditional drinks.

Sponsored Links

Some refreshment seekers may not be so keen on warming something up just to cool it down, so Green Mountain is working on new possibilities.

"We see opportunity in juices, carbonated beverages, sports drinks and enhanced waters," the company said during last month's quarterly earnings call.

Introducing carbonation would be a game changer and not just because it would get in the way of the budding empire that SodaStream (SODA) has been working on in recent years. If it's able to offer up fortified fitness beverages or juice drinks that don't taste as if they've just gone through a coffee maker, Green Mountain has a real opportunity to expand its already dominant market position in the single-serve market.

There are other possibilities, too. Blogs and articles in the past have discussed how brewing coffee-less water can be used for instant soup, oatmeal or noodles. What if Green Mountain hops on the liquid meal bandwagon by introducing a line of K-Cup soups?

It may not sound very appetizing, but -- then again -- few thought that a single-serve coffee platform would replace the drip java pop system that had existed for decades.

Green Mountain may actually have some cool things to show off. Can the same thing be said about Apple?

It'll Be iGreat or iYawn

Apple stock has fallen sharply since the day that the iPhone 5 hit the market, but it's been rallying in recent weeks in anticipation of new hardware.

Apple better not miss.

The Cupertino bellwether is naturally tight-lipped about what it will unveil, but there's plenty of chatter about a cheaper iPhone line, a fingerprint scanner on the home button and a gold-colored option.

The form factor should remain the same. Reports out of Asia tapping Apple's supply chain seem to indicate that a larger-sized iPhone won't be coming this time around. Samsung has overtaken Apple as the global leader in smartphones, largely on the popularity of its five-inch Galaxy phones that run Android.

The cheaper iPhones may be a pretty big deal, especially overseas in markets where carriers don't subsidize the cost of new handsets. The cheaper iPhone may also be huge for T-Mobile (TMUS), which is the only one of the four major stateside wireless carriers that doesn't subsidize hardware costs.

However, since so much is already expected out of Apple -- and so little is known about what, if anything Green Mountain will introduce -- it may not be a surprise if Keurig is the one that ultimately draws the most attention in three weeks.

Mark your calendars. Sept. 10 is going to be a busy day.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and SodaStream.


Originally published