WATERBURY, Vt. -- A half dozen production lines operate 12 hours a day, cutting small filters and stuffing them into tiny cups, dropping in 2 or 3 grams of coffee and sealing them before whisking them into boxes.
The scores of little coffee containers, known around Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as K-Cups, rolling off the line every few minutes represent what the small specialty brewer hopes will be a revolution in the way Americans brew their favorite roast at home.
The diminutive cups are a self-contained brewing system that can be popped into a relatively new brand of coffee maker to produce a single cup of steaming java. Gone, promoters of the systems say, are the days of a full pot of coffee slowly burning before it's thrown out.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. isn't alone. Brewers large and small, as well as appliance manufacturers, are getting in on the act and pushing the brewing systems as an ideal gift for a population addicted to convenience.
''It's an instance of quality meets convenience," said T.J. Whalen, marketing vice president at Green Mountain Coffee.
Green Mountain and other small specialty brewers like it are trying to capture the higher end of the market with their more expensive brews and their fancier brewing systems. But companies from Procter & Gamble Co.'s Folgers brand to Sara Lee Corp.'s Senseo and Kraft Foods Inc.'s Maxwell House also are trying to capitalize on what a number of companies believe is an emerging trend in the home kitchen.
The machines have taken off in offices, but a critical mass is only just beginning to be reached where consumers might consider buying them for their homes.