In this era of always-evolving technology and always-hectic routines, instant gratification is the name of the game. For most people, it's worthwhile to pay extra for convenience, and that's especially true when it comes to their caffeine fix. Coffee-lovers who still grind their own fresh beans are few and far between. Even more rare, at least in North America? Those who boil water in tea kettles. But the days of mediocre instant coffee are over too, because more and more people are getting their coffee and tea from single-serving pods.

When Keurig revealed its first single-cup brewing machine in 1998, it revolutionized the beverage industry almost immediately. One disposable K-Cup contains exactly enough coffee grinds for a single cup, and preparation time is nearly instant. While the price-per-volume is higher, plenty of people were willing to pay extra to avoid replacing filters, cleaning grinders, and even pouring the cups themselves. And when the company expanded its K-Cup selections to include tea, even more people took note.

Today, Keurig machines are so popular that almost every coffee company makes its own version of the K-Cup. In an effort to clamp down on their proprietary technology, the company recently announced that their newest machines will be incompatible with knock-off coffee and tea pods. They've already partnered with Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks; you can find official K-Cups in the chains' locations and on grocery store shelves.

Now, Keurig is seeking more partners who are willing to pay extra for the privilege of portions that fit into the newest machines. However, their efforts to declare a single-serving monopoly might not pay off. Some companies have already figured out ways around this, and there are hundreds of alternatives already available for existing machines.

Whether you spring for official K-cups, invest in a refillable version, or stock up on knock-offs, these no-mess pods are here to stay. If you have a coffee and tea station in your convenience store or office break room, it would be wise to invest in a K-cup dispenser and fill it with high-quality pods. Your selection will get bigger, each employee or customer will be in and out quickly, and best of all, you'll never fall behind the curve of coffee and tea trends.