Keurig Will Use DRM In New Coffee Maker To Lock Out Refill Market

from the who-wanted-paying-customers-anyway dept

The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. In order to protect their dominant market share, Keurig makers Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been on a bit of an aggressive tear of late. As with computer printers, getting the device in the home is simply a gateway to where the real money is: refills. But Keurig has faced the “problem” in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.

Keurig’s solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What’s more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM — so that only Keurig’s own coffee pods can be used in it:

“Green Mountain has announced a new anticompetitive plan to maintain its monopoly by redesigning its brewers to lock out competitors’ products. Such lock-out technology cannot be justified based on any purported consumer benefit, and Green Mountain itself has admitted that the lock-out technology is not essential for the new brewers’ function. Like its exclusionary agreements, this lock-out technology is intended to serve anticompetitive and unlawful ends.”

The plan was confirmed by Keurig’s CEO who stated on a recent earnings call that the new maker indeed won’t work with “unlicensed” pods as part of an effort to deliver “game-changing performance.” “Keurig 2.0” is expected to launch this fall. French Press and pour-over manufacturers like Chemex have plenty of time to get their thank you notes to Keurig in the mail ahead of time as users are hopefully nudged toward the realization they could be drinking much better coffee anyway.

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Companies: keurig, treehouse foods

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Comments on “Keurig Will Use DRM In New Coffee Maker To Lock Out Refill Market”

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Misty says:

Re: Ironic

I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m not a big fan of Green Mountain Coffee. I really think Keurig is making a big mistake with their business decision here. I love my Mr. Coffee brand Keurig with the refillable filter and the ability to purchase as many different flavored coffee pods as I want. I just upgraded my Keurig a month ago so I could make even more coffee. I guess I may be forced to turn away from the brand soon, which is rather sad to me. Not exactly a good way to build brand loyalty. Poor marketing and business decision, Keurig.

GK says:

Re: Closed systems will go the way of Macintosh

The single serve market has been growing so fast, I am surprised that the big players have been spending most of their efforts on keeping competitors away rather than on improving the quality of product. Keurig specifically makes a crappy product. Yet the consumers still buy it because it’s convenient and probably better quality than what they make themselves (not everyone has access to fresh beans, good grinder and 10 minutes to make a cup). So instead of making a better product, I am saddened that Keurig (as well as Nespresso, Senseo, etc.) are trying to protect their monopoly and make all sort of useless changes to their closed systems. We have seen that in a computer industry, and we know that open systems end up wining.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

No. You are stupid. Stupid because you think all consumers have the same desires, needs, and usage patterns you have. Perhaps for YOU, brew or french press is a better method, but for me, Keurig (single brew)is better.

I have a small office, people all want different brews, and they want them at different times of the day. I could have a couple of Bunn brewers, and then pay an admin to keep them fresh. Or I could have what most offices have, bitter, old coffee and people who finish the pot, but don’t re-brew. OR, I could put in one of these machines, and spend more per cup, yet everybody gets what they want, clean-up is basically non-existant, none of my staff wastest 5 minutes brewing and waiting on a new pot, and we don’t pour out old coffee.

Don’t be so egocentrical. The whole world doesn’t share your viewpoint, and it doesn’t make them stupid. Yet your self-centered view of the world IS making you so.

PS: Screw Keurig 2.0. I’ll brew before I give them their pound of flesh.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

You mean “except people who know what YOU think good coffee is”.

How can you say a cup isn’t good if the drinker enjoys it? Taste is like that. Even if you’re a coffee snob, others may fully enjoy a keurig brew.

Anyway, even if you’re right, for my office, good enough is good enough. I give staff a coffee. I’m not hiring a talented barista and a masseuse.

Erika says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

I have a keurig. I am not stupid. I don’t pay full price for keurig pods unless I come across something I really want. I bought the reusable pod and use my own canister of Foldgers in the morning.

That being said.. maybe it is a stupid craze, but after dealing with two kids, under 5, in the morning, getting breakfast together, making lunches, and so on, it’s nice to have a hot fresh cup of coffee every single time before my 8hr shift at work. Before I got the keurig there would be days I made a whole pot and was either forgotten or sat too long and became burnt.

I do not agree with what they are doing. If they are going to get rid of reusable pods or make it that I can’t use cheaper products then this will be the last keurig I own.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

Agree. My wife loves her Keurig and actually buys the coffee (or gets it as gifts from family members because we know she likes it but doesn’t like paying for it).

She also uses the refillable pods sometimes, but this is killing the golden goose to get the eggs. We will NEVER buy another Keurig if it has DRM and doesn’t allow refillable pods.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is exp

Perhaps Keurigs damage to the environment is far more bitter and disgusting than the coffee itself. Plastic pollution. A coffee for a few minutes and a plastic cup forever. Thank you for permanently polluting our planet because you are lazy. Where do the pods go? They are not recycled. That is for sure. As a matter of fact, only about 2 percent of all plastics are recycled.

James (profile) says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

Some of us have spent a great deal of time experimenting to find varieties of pods that do not “suck”. Many do, but not all of them. Are they more expensive? Sure they are – it’s called convenience cost. For some of us, the convenience and variety provided by the system far outweighs the financial cost, especially when extreme time-savings is added in.

Rob says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

It’s more about convenience.

Generally speaking, I only have one cup of coffee whenever I do decide to have one. But yes, I could just brew one cup in a pot. Then I have a pot to wash still when I can just toss a mug into a dishwasher.

Do I think that Keurig are going too far with a drm in their machines? Yep. Most of the better coffee that I have isn’t through them. You act like there aren’t any good pods that you can get though, which is extremely opinionated and to be quite fair, shows how little you’ve experimented with different brands.

This day and age though, if you have the money for it, you’re going to choose convenience regardless of what it means.

John Halbig says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

No kidding… the only reason we even have one is because my Wife only occasionally drinks coffee, and a whole pot would go to waste… and even THEN we inherited it from someone who decided they weren’t all that into it.

If anything, I kinda resented seeing the darn thing, as I recall all too keenly the sheer amount of SPAM I received from Keurig over the last 10 years.

Erika says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

I have a keurig and I can assure you I am not an idiot. I rarely buy the pods unless it is something I absolutely want. I bought myself a reusable pod for my Foldgers in the morning.

I love the fact that I can have a hot, fresh, cup of coffee every single time. I have two kids under 5.. before my keurig I was lucky to get a cup out of a pot of coffee before it was forgotten or burnt. So much coffee was wasted with my old maker.

I will say this, if they plan to go forward with this plan, and I can not use my reuseable pod or more affordable pods this will be the last keurig I own.

Dark Moe (profile) says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

Yes, and regretfully I am one of them. My story about how I got hooked is too long and involved to go into. I’ve been trying to get into rehab over it, but my therapist only has Keurig in his office.

He said that by having it there, it helps his patients gradually decrease the cravings. I don’t believe it for a minute. I think he’s a closet pod consumer.


Mike VanDeMark says:

Re: Only idiots use pods anyway, the coffee SUCKS and is expensive

I have one and love it. I also have the third party cups I can refill with regular coffee. I’m the only one in the house who drinks coffee so it makes sense to do it this way. I do have a box of Keurig or off brand cups available for when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to make up a refill.

Gojo says:

Re: Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

My wife and I are long time coffee drinkers. We own all types of machines; drip, espresso maker, percolator, aero press, french press, and a Keurig.
The best coffee is through the espresso machine no doubt, but it’s a pain in the butt to make. We use the Keurig most often. Quick, easy, and not a bad cup of Joe.

Pragmatic says:

And that’s why “the free market” is a myth, friends and neighbors! As long as a service or product provider can lock out competition to the point where it’s not economically viable to vote with your wallet, the market isn’t free, it’s locked down.

Bear in mind that I don’t accept “take it or leave it” as an option.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Amen that. We have anti-trust law, which is hard and arduous to prosecute. Yet we don’t have anti-lock laws, with fines and penalties.

Meanwhile, we do have anto-lock-breaking laws like the DMCA. These monstrosities are frequently enforced, prosecuted, settled, and fines levied. What backwards BS.

Why do we have triple penalties for willfull patent infringement, but not triple penalties for “lock down anti-trust” actions.

We could start with cellular SIM locking. It should be illegal to place a SIM lock, NOT illegal to undo one. (Bulk or otherwise.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

A real government isn’t incompetent when it is ruled by the People for the People. The elite government officials consider themselves above that.

Your constitution (i’m not american) allows for overthrow of tyrannical governments (too bad it is worded so vaguely). And please if you ever do it, think like Guevara and not those neo nazis in Kiev.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s why it drives me crazy when politicians around here talk about recent ‘deregulation’ of electric companies to let you buy electric from people other then PECO.

One big problem with that, no matter who you buy the electric from, it still comes to your house through PECO’s wires.

True deregulation would mean PECO can charge whatever price they want for electricity, and the other electric companies have to pay to install their own electric wires in your house.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Get acquainted with the term “natural monopoly”.

The transmission wires ARE one, the generation is not. So we regulate the natural monopolies, and let the free market handle generation.

Are you really advocating for 5 or more different transmission infrastructures uglifying our world? It’s not clear, but I think you are.

What “drives you crazy” makes perfect sense to people educated in economics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

only not to the consumer who must pay more as the result of (insert energy company here) being the only provider to the area, while getting massive subsidies and government infusion of capital for “maintenance, etc. You’re right, the system works well for the energy company and not for the consumer, but then energy conglomerates have more money to donate than the individual, so what politician in their right mind would risk upsetting them and getting “primaried” or outspent by the opposing party in the next election cycle. So in other words, what makes sense for our politicians is simply what makes sense for our companies, not their constituents.

Brian Johnson says:

Re: Re:

This hardly proves the myth. The free market comes in two parts: The supplier and the consumer.

In this case, the supplier is attempting to limit consumer access to the competition – so that’s part one.

Part two is the consumer: All the consumers need do, if they really are irritated by this, is stop buying Keurig products until the Keurig bottom line suffers. Now, if not enough consumers care enough to switch to something else or (gasp!) eliminate coffee from their diet altogether (It CAN be done, addicts!), and are willing to play along with Keurig’s products and prices, that is >their free choice

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Not so. The “free market” implies perfect information. Most consumers won’t know/care enough about this issue when they shop their coffee maker, and will find themselves “trapped”. Without perfect information that they will be “locked in” when they buy the machine, the consumer cannot be expected to send the correct market signal to the supply side.

Do you think Keurig will put the information in bold on the box? “This machine will not let you use off-brand pods.” Hmm. I don’t think they will.

There is often an information dis-symmetry between the suppliers (who spend all day thinking about the coffee and pod business), and consumers. Suppliers take advantage of this dis-symmetry to game the market. Thus, it isn’t a perfect or free market.

Nicolas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You did leave out the not-inconsequential fact that almost any retailer would accept a return of the Keurig if the customer found himself dissatisfied. So, the consumer is out a return trip to the store, at worst.

Your claim that a free market implies ?perfect information? is bunk. It no more requires that than free religion implies guaranteed entry into Heaven or free press implies accurate reporting.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You are correct.

A free market does not require perfect information.

It is a “Perfect Market” that requires perfect information.

The problem I was getting at is that too many people seem to think that a Free Market is a Perfect Market. It is not. There is not a pareto optimal equilibrium, because of distortions such as information dis-symmetry.

BTW, both printers and Keurig machines often give the user enough “starter” coffee or ink to get through the 15 day return period. Also, people are not keen to return things, since this effort is an additional cost.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You should ask why they do this when they are already wealthy enough for their children’s next 10 generations + and have all that dirty power easily thrown around?

They’re deathly afraid. Of what would happen to them if people were informed, let’s say as to implement a Perfect Market whether they like it or not…

Everything illogical performed by such tyrannical government-corporations, isn’t actually. They want people to be totally bummed out and get themselves numbed on antidepressants.

Sergio says:

Re: Re:

Hardly an example of the free market being a myth. Quite the contrary. We have no right to force Keurig to do anything. They can offer whatever products, with whatever nonsense built in that they choose. They’re not pointing a gun at our heads and requiring us to buy their brewing machine. They’re hoping that through their value offering, consumers will choose to hand over their money voluntarily. This is the free market my friend.

I for one, won’t purchase a DRM based Keurig machine – because that’s insane. I hope my decision to relocate my dollars into their competitors will signal how bad their decision was and they’ll relent. Else they go out of business.

Free market in action.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


I appreciate your love for the free market. I, too would love one. But this isn’t it.

Read my response to Brian, just above.

There are ways to make money in the free market. But an easier way has always been to “game” the market. To find some way to distort it in your favor.

Free market evangelists (the far right in the USA) always choose to act like this possibility doesn’t exist. I’m sure it makes life simpler, but it doesn’t make it true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Don’t you have the option of any other coffee maker, coffee shop, or even another single pod coffee maker company? If you answer yes to any of these, than it is very different from the problem you are trying to elucidate in monopolies being able to charge whatever they want because of complete lack of competition. In these instances (think oil as run by the price fixing body OPEC, or cable in the united states as controlled by three companies with regionally exclusive deals WITHOUT another option) Those I agree are problems with the free market that must be looked into; however coffee pods for one of dozens of different “pod” brands when there are still regular coffee makers and french presses and coffee shops and espresso makers who will remain unaffected, seems like an misinformed comparison to monopolies.

John says:

Re: take it or leave it

I have no problem with “Take it or leave it” markets. It’s why I don’t own anything with Sony Memory Sticks, or coffee makers with “special cups” . I’ve never had a Good cup of coffee from a K-cup coffee maker. Even McDonalds coffee is better than k-cup coffee of any brand or flavor. Actually McDonalds is on par with Starbucks daily brew or Americano, IMHO.

MrZ says:

Re: "Free market" claims

And that’s why “the free market” is a myth, friends and neighbors! As long as a service or product provider can lock out competition to the point where it’s not economically viable to vote with your wallet, the market isn’t free, it’s locked down.

It’s their coffee maker. If they wish to cripple it by design, in what way does that prevent you from a) buying one of several competing machines (i.e. voting with your wallet); or b) using one of countless regular coffee makers/espresso machines/etc. that are currently on the market.

Bear in mind that I don’t accept “take it or leave it” as an option.

…after all, it is your natural right to dictate the functionality that a company builds into their own product — right?

Josh says:

Re: Re:

You’re silly.

Just because one company makes it hard for third party companies to piggyback on their device, doesn’t mean the free market is a myth.

Consumers are free to reject Keurig for more open, customer-friendly options if those exist. If they don’t exist, a new market segment can be created by anyone willing to take the risk.

Stop being so silly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Are you autistic? This is beyond common sense, the market is obviously free, it’s a part of capitalism. The issue is monopolies can form within free markets when the governments laws and politics can be corrupted by capitalism. Capitalism itself isn’t the culprit, it’s simply greed mixed into a weak system and personal incentives headbutting.

Walt French (profile) says:

Re: Free Market Doing What Comes Naturally

Keurig is just one of many competing coffee systems?I’ve seen at least two others in offices I frequent?not to mention all sorts of more hands-on single-cup approaches.

Anybody who uses one of these things for a while quickly watches the costs add up, and I can’t see anything technologically superior to Keurig’s approach. So Keurig is simply announcing a price increase, and future buyers will easily see the higher cost of the convenience, perhaps choosing another system.

BTW, ?take it or leave it? is a feature of virtually all commerce in the US. If I want a nice iPad but don’t want to pay $499 for it, I can either give in or walk down the street to get a less costly competitor’s product. That’s plenty of power for me, whereas some belligerent ?don’t tell me what to do? is toothless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But that is a free market. The market is coffee, you don’t have to pay me by the hour to make coffee for you, and you don’t have to pay Keurig for one of their machines.

That you don’t accept ‘take it or leave it’ as an option is in an interesting point of view on how markets should work. If I were to offer a machine for $1m which made coffee, and only worked with my own coffee, should I not be allowed to put it on the market because it’s a crap deal? Should Keurig not be able to market a product which is equally crap?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m not your friend or neighbor.. But with out a free market you would be living in a country similar to Russia.. Why would I spend large amounts of money developing a product if as soon as I market that product some pragmatic can copy it?? That’s why we have patents and those patents have time limits..

scotts13 (profile) says:

Self defeating

I’ve been using single-serve for years, and have tried virtually all of the brands/systems: Keurig, Tassimo, Senseo, and more. I personally prefer Tassimo, but currently use Keurig (or, more precisely, the very expensive machine Cuisinart makes under license). The reason is simple – wide variety of coffee at more moderate prices. At SRP, a cup of Keurig coffee costs about 69?. However, sometimes I buy other (non authorized) brands, even occasionally on closeout – for as little as 16? to 40? per cup.

If Keurig takes that ability away, I won’t be buying ANY of their coffee – or the machines, either. And you can’t convince me that a $120 to $250 coffee pot is pure loss leader.

rhiannon says:

Re: Self defeating

Single-serve refills on average work out to be around $50 per pound of coffee. Your justification that they offer a “wider variety of coffee at more moderate prices” is severely miscalculated. You’d be much better off using a refillable version.

Ann (profile) says:

Re: Self defeating

The victim mentality that we are ‘forced to comply with big business’ really confuses me. There are choices, many choices.
I use a device that makes one cup quickly, no refill pods and costs about 5 to 10 cents per cup (10 cents is the high end coffee). It tastes better then anything out there including brewed coffee. Best is that it doesn’t contribute to landfill (or ocean fill) with plastic.

A small stove top espresso maker. (Bialetti is the best of these)
A small French press does exactly the same thing.

Very inexpensive way to great coffee and no waste. No DRM lockout.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And in the chase for a few more pennies, they proceed to do what the printer industry did. They will end up spending more money on legal fees in the end, than this master plan will earn them.

They really should consider replacing their CEO with someone who can look beyond dreams of quick cash to see that this didn’t work every other time it was done in multiple industries, and perhaps they should pursue other ideas to help the revenue stream.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It will be interesting to see which snakeoil salesman they listened to. Nearly every ‘magic bullet’ system out there seems to have been started by an insider, who then is quickly bought off, and in a few years they discover the system was pointless/worthless.
The only people getting rich are the charlatans and the lawyers.

gg says:

Re: Re: Re:

someone will still have to sell coffee beans. or something to make coffee out of. you’re not going to get past the physics of making coffee out of hot water + product. so in a no-mad world, you’re going to get your coffee from a pirate coffee brewer and busted up best $/taste product someone sells.

this drm isn’t really drm. the actual apparatus for making coffee is rather primitive, no drm is going to protect them from some good’ol electronic haxory.

quit getting your panties in a bunch, and go void some warranties you’re never going to use anyway.

RD says:

Repeal the DMCA

This sort of situation was SPECIFICALLY pointed out at the time the DMCA was being debated as a major potential problem with the law, and the Big Media companies all INSISTED that the law would NEVER be used in such a way, so it should be passed since there will NOT be any “function creep.” And here we are today, with story after story of the DMCA being used to stifle competition, technological innovation, and speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Repeal the DMCA

So far, they haven’t said how this will be “protected,” nevermind whether they are expecting the DMCA to be the hammer to use on competitors.

The garage door openers already lost this in 2004.,_Inc._v._Skylink_Technologies,_Inc.

The printer ink cartridges already lost this in 2004 and 2012.'l_v._Static_Control_Components

It’s much more likely that Keureg will work towards a patented plastic moulding solution, rather than a digital control solution. It’s easy to embed a $0.15 tag into a $40 toner cartridge. It’s harder to embed a $0.15 tag into a $0.75 coffee cartridge. I’m sure the prices for tags are dropping, but then we can talk about the negative PR for unrecyclable cartridges with foil/semiconductor chips embedded.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Repeal the DMCA

“It’s harder to embed a $0.15 tag into a $0.75 coffee cartridge.”

They don’t need to go that far. A simple bar code will do. Easy to circumvent? Yes. But then that’s when they send in the swat team to kick your door down and drag you off for “piracy”. Everyone profits! (except you, of course)

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Repeal the DMCA

I agree. I have a Brother label printer that does this. It has a Patented system where the label rolls come on a plastic roller. The roller mounts in the printer and has a system of dots drilled out that tell the printer the width of the label roll. That “communication” between print media and printer is the innovation that was patented, so you can only buy the rolls from Brother.

Or, you get out a hacksaw, glue, and grinder, and rig a system to create a re-usable label roller. Then, you could buy the labels at 1/3 the cost.

My staff make fun of me for going to this effort to save a few bucks…but then, they don’t pay the bills. And they don’t understand the personal satisfaction I get from the FU factor. Aaargh, mateys!

Anonymous Coward says:

Screw Nature!

Keurig, Tassimo, Nespresso, and their ilk are single-handedly counteracting recycling and trash reductions efforts of the last 20 years. Single cup, plastic beverage pods are environmentally disastrous. But hey, who gives a f#@k as long as they’re making a buck? Way to go, guys. That is OK. Your corporations are disposable, too.


Re: Screw Nature!

There is nothing wasteful about a solution that allows you to use only as much as you want to use at a time and nothing more. If anything, it’s all of the other more conventional means that are wasteful. They will all ensure that plenty of leftovers and trash get discarded regardless of your level of consumption.

Jon says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Except coffee grounds and filters are usually biodegradable. I could use them in my garden. What waste are you referring to? Single brewers create 1 waste for every cup, plus more for every box you buy. Not to mention they don’t last long and need to be replaced. Actually, if I brew using my press, I get exactly as much as I want and create no waste at all.

Screw the Earth? Yeah, that mentality will get us far. You are a true benefit to the species.

AK says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Um, no. If you make too much coffee, you can use it to add nitrogen to your garden. Regular coffee filters are biodegradable, and there are reusable options available. K-cups are made of polyethelyne and polystyrene which are difficult and energy-intensive to recycle. By contrast, you could get bulk coffee beans in your own reusable bag or at the very worst, have less to throw away. Companies like TerraCycle and Starbucks even accept the old bags for recycling.

An exception would be to use the reusable K-cups that are basically just tiny goldfilament coffee filters. But who knows if Keurig will allow one to fit this new machine…

Scoffy says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Wait, what? There was never a problem! Have you forgotten about the plastic containers every. single. serve. comes in! They need to be made first from virgin plastic, most of them can’t be recycled and won’t be. The other ‘conventional’ means, like a coffee machine that has a reusable filter, uses exactly as much as you need, and can be cleaned in literally seconds, with the grinds going in the compost. And ‘your level of consumption’ will decide exactly how much we trash our planet, and for how long it can sustain us.

Ted Kritzler says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

I think that there are plenty of alternatives to K-cup brewers for a single cup of coffee. For pete’s sake, the K-cup machines are really making nothing more than fancy, expensive “Taster’s Choice” instant coffee. Teapot..single cup drip-brewer, 2 scoops of ground coffee, pour boiling water over grounds and enjoy.the only waste is a biodegradeable paper filter.. You, know, they make 1 cup french presses too.. PS…If you read the instructions, even a 12-cup brewer can make just one cup, it’s not Rocket Surgery, it’s just JOE.

nacho_daddy says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

I don’t know what all, “Waste” you from your coffee maker, but my Mr. Coffee makes as little as you want (it has an advanced feature that makes almost exactly as much coffee as you put water in the machine for… imagine that!) And generates exactly one damp, biodegradable filter and a few spoonfuls of biodegradable coffee grounds as, “Waste”… To read your post, it sounds like a Mr. Coffee machine generates 200 pounds spent uranium rods and a truckload of styrofoam waste every time you make a cup or 2 of coffee. This isn’t exactly like choosing a Hummer over a Prius From a carbon footprint standpoint.

rhiannon says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Jedidiah: “There is nothing wasteful about a solution that allows you to use only as much as you want to use at a time and nothing more. If anything, it’s all of the other more conventional means that are wasteful. They will all ensure that plenty of leftovers and trash get discarded regardless of your level of consumption.”

Are you for real?? For starters, they are a waste of money – on average working out to cost approximately $50 per pound of coffee. Further more, the pods are incredibly environmentally detrimental. Keurig alone has sold BILLIONS of these pods since their introduction into the market, and the plastic is not biodegradable or recyclable.

S says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

I think you are confused about what makes this wasteful. Sure it is convenient to only use the exact amount of coffee and exact amount of water to make the one cup. But trust me throwing away the little plastic cups, that will NEVER break down is way worse. Than using too much coffee and having to throw it away or brewing a few cups too much and having to dump it out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

That is great, Bob. Glad to see at least one person is actually doing something. I was not aware that the Nespresso pods were aluminum. That is better than plastic to some extent, but still horrible if they end up in a landfill. My post was written based on the experience of seeing waste baskets crammed full of pods bound for landfills. @Jed, your argument doesn’t hold water, period. Face it, these things are a “convenience” appliance. There are plenty of other ways to make a single cup that do not involve hugely wasteful “pods” of any kind.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Yeah. I agree with you. I generate this waste at my office. And I have weighed the waste against the convenience it offers my staff, and chosen the convenience in a no-brainer.

But still…lots of waste packaging. But I DO pay a pretty hefty price for waste processing, so there are fewer externalities than in places where garbage removal is “free” with residency.

Wobbit says:

Re: Screw Nature!

Just for the record gmcr is one of the greenest companies around. Any beverage cup with a gmcr logo on it is compostable bioware. The k-cups are part of a composting/energy program. (There is a shipping program to send back used k-cups ensuring that the grounds are composted and the plastic portion is used for carbon neutral energy production). The company offsets all of the carbon produced in shipping. All company buildings are leed certified. The company gives huge rebates to employees for in creasing energy efficiency in their home. They are also the largest buyer and seller if fair trade coffee world wide.

You can say all you like abou if it’s a good idea to only use Keurig affiliated k-cups in a Keurig machine, but you don’t have a leg to stand on by attacking their enviromental policy. Also, nobody is taking anything away from you. You can buy an off-brand single serve brewer withb off-brand pods. If you want the real thing get a Keurig and use a pod that the brewer has certified as compatible.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

“Any beverage cup with a gmcr logo on it is compostable bioware”

This still takes fuel and raw materials to produce. Bioplastics are often (not always) made from food crops like corn. Food that might otherwise (in a fair world), go to feed hungry people.

“The company offsets all of the carbon produced in shipping.”

Instead of buying carbon offsets, it’s better to not produce the carbon in the first place.

“All company buildings are leed certified. “

While admirable, this is no guarantee of “green-ness”. We don’t know how they run those buildings; they could be super-efficient or complete resource hogs.

The single serve coffee business is the same as the bottled water business: convince consumers that what they already have isn’t good enough and they need the same thing but in disposable, one-time-use plastic.

ldne says:

Re: Re: trying to compare environmental footprints

but you don’t have a leg to stand on by attacking their enviromental policy.

The only waste that comes out of my coffeemaker is grounds, and those grounds represent a whole lot less energy usage than the manufacturing process for those ridiculous cups. Virtually any standard coffee pot is more environmentally friendly than a Keurig or its clones.

trollificus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Proving only that it is possible to be green and greedy.

A dick move like this ‘lock-in’ plan is not made a non-dick move because they have other policies of which you apparently approve. Yes, people CAN choose to allow themselves to be ripped off based on those policies.

More likely is that people will be turned off, moving to other manufacturers less environmentally friendly at a net loss to total greenness in the corporate sphere. (Since people tend to like their environmental contributions to be voluntary and unrelated to your corporate profits.)

As you would be bemoaning if you were not either a paid shill/apologist for the company or someone who doesn’t examine these things very deeply.

coffeedrinkersneedstastebuds (profile) says:

Re: Re: Screw Nature!

Please….coffee is coffee! Anyone who says a certain brew is better than another has to have coffee ???? grounds for brains. I wanted to see for myself if there was such a difference between them. So, I went and bought everything from gourmet coffee to run of the mill coffee ????. Over a week time period I tried them all at different strengths and concluded: They all taste ???? the same…only difference I could distinguish was strength in the taste from weak to OH MY GOD WHO COULD DRINK THIS AND NOT BE BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS. LOL… I came to understand that it’s a placebo affect and a subconscious decision which was made from an experience from their childhood. In short, they are full of themselves.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Home Coffee Maker

When I make my coffee at home I use fresh beans and a 12 cup brewer. My refills are bags of coffee bought from the grocery store.

The one-off coffee makers are great for places where a courtesy cup of coffee is nice and you do not want a to keep a pot heating all day.

I have not particularly liked the coffee from these machines and never planned to buy one. The DRM antics just confirms my plans.

nacho_daddy says:

Re: Home Coffee Maker

Thank you so much for clearing that up! I know that I speak for everyone when I say that there was a great deal of world wide concern regarding your choice of coffee maker. Now that I know that you plan on keeping on using a regular, multi cup coffee maker, not only will I be able to sleep tonight, but I won my office pool as well!

Anonymous Coward says:

I have a keurig but use the dyi kcup but modded like pictured here , If i decide to purchase a new machine (with drm) I will break the drm and I will show others how to break the drm , because once I purchase something there is no way in hell someones going to tell me what the fuck to do with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps someone with more information can present viable arguments why the DMCA would even come into play since what is called here “DRM” does not involve a work protected under copyright law, but instead comprises an RFID “tag” associated with a cup that is able to be read by the brewer and a cups contents accurately identified. With this information in hand, the brewer is purportedly programmed to dispense liquid in a manner that is appropriate for such a cup.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“since what is called here “DRM” does not involve a work protected under copyright law, but instead comprises an RFID “tag” associated with a cup that is able to be read by the brewer and a cups contents accurately identified.”

In the past, companies have used the DMCA for exactly this purpose — they argue that the DRM constitutes an access control and therefore anything that bypasses it without permission is a violation of the anti-circumvention clause.

Mike Brown (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Says you. I personally find the filter on French presses lacking. There’s always a micro-fine sludge at the bottom of the cup that I personally find disgusting, but that’s just my humble opinion.

Should I make French presses available to my customers in my office? I think I’ll pass. As much as I love doing the dishes, imagine my pure joy at seeing some ass-hat fail horribly in his attempt to pour boiling water into a glass vessel without spilling it all over his crotch, or any number of other potential mishaps. Keurigs are more idiot-proof.

TheResidentSkeptic says:

Please arrest me

Hey “future crime cops” … come arrest me… I plan on pirating a cup of coffee while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and an EFF NSA t-shirt under my tech-dirt hoodie. That should count for at least a 5-yr charge…

Seriously? This better be followed up by “board fires clueless CEO”

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Typical of the copyright maximalist crowd. Completely fail to understand the issue. It’s not about stealing anything. It’s about market competition and preventing what has happened with inkjet printers.

Once upon a time, Inkjet printers were a great idea. Now they are completely unattractive due to the ridiculous price of ink. What was it again, $8000 a gallon? That must be some mighty fine ink.

Now the exact same thing is happening to coffee and a coffee maker.

Maybe they should also DRM it so that you can only drink the coffee out of Keurig brand cups that they can sell at an extraordinarily high price? Would you also be in favor of that? Would you then like to be name calling of people who complain about the abuse?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Please. This isn’t remotely the same thing.

This is anti-competitive bullshit.

They should focus their effort on making a better and less expensive product if they don’t want people buying the off-brand stuff instead of removing the choice from the consumer.

You’re right about one thing though… they can do what they want… and if they do, they’ll have to learn the hard way that nobody wants to deal with their bullshit. I would not buy a keurig machine if I could only buy their coffee.

scotts13 (profile) says:

It'll be interesting to see how this is implemented

Keurig has experimented with RFID tags before, which haven’t seen much success, and Tassimo has used (easily deciphered) barcodes for years.

The Keurig Vue system was introduced largely because the patent on the K-cup ran out a while ago; that hasn’t seen great success either, and they’re slashing the prices on the makers rapidly. Both Vue and Keurig 2.0 claim to offer valuable features (Vue makes foam for your cappuccino, and 2.0 will make a 30 oz POT of coffee) but are these features people actually want?

What I want is a quick, decent cup of coffee that doesn’t break the bank. None of the multiple “innovations” Keurig’s flailing around with (they have a new Rivo cappuccino system, too) address that.

edpo says:

Anti-Competitive DRM

DRM should be illegal. The Keurig patent expired in 2012. The very point of even our troubled patent system is that inventors get some time period to capitalize on their ideas, and thereafter the idea is available to anyone in the open market to utilize in production. DRM allows companies to privatize the patent system, and extend their hold on an idea beyond what is legally permissible.

Rafael Vazquez says:

Keurig's DRM Policy

Keurig is commiting marketing suicide. If the market realizes that the Keurig machine will not allow use of generic refillables to make their coffee, they will stop buying the Keurig coffee makers and the Keurig coffees. Customers will just opt for the coffee makers that will allow them to do so. In the long run, the most versatile coffee makers in this competition will win out. Keurig will be left out in the cold with their strategy.

qw says:

Re: Keurig's DRM Policy

If the market realizes that the Keurig machine will not allow use of generic refillables to make their coffee, they will stop buying the Keurig coffee makers and the Keurig coffees. Customers will just opt for the coffee makers that will allow them to do so.

Yeah, just like these days customers only buy printers that allow the use of 3rd party inks.

Sorry to be cynical, but if we’re going to spend the whole thread comparing coffee machines to printers, it’s worth looking at the printer market. I bet Keurig did.

Tricia (user link) says:

Keurig will use DRM new coffee maker....

I just recently got a Keurig machine and only use the refillable option to put my own coffee in it. The single cups are never strong enough. If they create a machine that rules out all other Kcup options I may just take my $125 (that I spent on the Keurig) and go back to Starbucks… (of course that $125 will only last me like a month or so at SBUX for balck drip…lol).

French press here I come again! 🙂

Tom Betz (profile) says:

Screw all these coffee makers.

Here’s the best, easiest and cheapest way to make really great coffee: cold brew coffee concentrate made using a nut milk bag.

I like to let mine cold brew 24 hours before pulling the bag.

I’ve been using Peet’s Decaf House Blend lately because it’s been on special at supermarkets in my area, but this process even makes very drinkable coffee using cheaper supermarket brands.

Bring a bottle of concentrate to the office and add hot water, one part concentrate to two parts water, and enjoy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Seriously?

Their business model is founded on selling coffee at roughly $30/pound. (They charge $16.50 for a 24-pack of refills. The amount of coffee you can brew from a pound of beans varies, but it’s generally around 40-50 cups.)

Keurig does a lot of their sales to offices. Once an office has bought a Keurig coffee maker, they want everybody to be locked in to using Keurig coffee. As TFA said, it’s no different from razor blades or printer ink.

Julie Hall says:

Fine By me. I just won't buy the new one.

I’m perfectly satisfied re-using my filters because “not” re-using them makes this coffeemaker ridiculously expensive. Why pay more than $1.20 for each cup of coffee when you can refill the k-cups for $0.30/cup?

So if you’re making a “new” refill-proof coffee maker then count me out!

eileen (profile) says:

Big Mistake

Keurig is making a big mistake with this greedy move. I only feel good about using a Keurig since I found San Francisco Bay Coffee and others that are in mesh bags instead of polluting plastic cups. They fit the Keurig and they work just fine, despite being “unapproved.” I will never pollute the landscape with the plastic cups, so when my current machine dies it will be the end of ever buying another Keurig brewer.

anon says:

But by now...

By now, people who want the convenience of single cup brewing have bought one of these. (Or like me, two – including one for work)

So are we talking ANOTHER system? Another format of cup? Is this a “super-betamax” idea, or SOny L-Cassette? If 50 million people already buy one format of coffee cartride or another what are the odds people will carry a third system whose only claim is “we make a bigger cup”? Is Keurig now going to advertise, “Sorry, or older products are crap, buy this instead! It’s good – we promise”?

CD’s replaced tape and vinyl because the increase in convenience and quality was patently(?) obvious. Ditto for DVD over VHS. Ditto for convenience and price of MP3 over CD.

what’s going to drive the shift from Keurig to Son of Keurig? Or are you going to buy identical/compatible cups, only to get home and find your coffee refuses to brew because the cup did not have a golden K logo on it?

I suspect this is easier said than done in today’s market.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

What is the appeal of pods?

I mean this seriously. I’ve used the machines in a couple of offices I frequent, and I really don’t understand the point.

The whole process seem more complicated and time-consuming than just doing a pour-over. What do you get for a couple of hundred bucks and added complexity that you don’t get for a $2 cone and hot water?

Anonymous Coward says:

All you need is a Melitta

I use a single cup Melitta cone ($3 ea. + $5 s&h)

I put an unbleached #2 coffee filter into it, add 2 teaspoons of Splenda and 2-3 scoops of ground coffee, tap it a little to pack the coffee a bit, place it over my coffee cut, bring 12oz of water to a full boil in a 16oz Pyrex cup in the microwave for about 2 minutes, and immediately (gently) poor it into the filter. Depending on the quality of the ground coffee, you can get an excellent, strong, quick cup of coffee. This method is even faster if your home or office has an instant hot water dispenser that is hot enough.

Patrick (user link) says:

Sticking with my AeroPress me thinks

Just the other day I was considering getting a Keurig, as I was begging to think the Aerobie AeroPress (which is awesome by the way, it looks like this was getting to ben inconvenience in the morning routine. It makes great coffee, but perhaps pods would be just as good. I’ gladd this report has come out, as it takes the affordability out. I’m sticking with my AeroPress!!

Lydia L. P. (user link) says:

Tassimo not so good!

Well we had a GD Tassimo, nice machine, nice coffee! However we got rid of it, because of exactly this problem the exclusivity of it! The pods were hard to find, unless you went to a Starbucks store hoping there is one near you! If you ordered on line 9 out of 10 times somewhere some how the order got screwed up! Then if you don’t keep the barcode reader meticulously‎ clean the machine cannot read it, and the pods themselves might get a little crinkled somehow and then the barcode can’t be read either! Then there’s the problem with cleaning the tank the yellow disc you insert in the back of the machine to override the brewing feature started to fail for whatever reason. So there you are sitting with a machine saying clean me and there is no way to override that or a bum barcode! Overall that machine was a PITA it got the boot! 🙁

Sandra Pirtle says:

Never did like the coffee

I use and airopress maker. I bought a K-cup machine for some guest that were staying here when I was out of town. I didn’t expect them to go to the trouble of figuring out the airopress. When the “free” coffee that that came with the machine were gone I used it to heat my water for my airopress. When it quit working I tossed it and went to buy an electric kettle. I did taste one of each of the types of K-cups and have to say that I have had better coffee out of vending machines. It has been a few years, so I hope my friends forgive me. Next time I will buy a little drip machine and leave a bag of Kona for them.

Jeff Latker (profile) says:

Love my Keurig, but hate the pods.

I’ve had two Keurig B60 machines and love the convenience and, sorry, the coffee, too. But I have had great misgivings about the ecological impact that the machine has. So in late 2012, I began researching an alternative and found Solofill.

This is the greatest invention since the Keurig machines themselves. I can brew ANY kind of coffee I want and have COMPLETELY abandoned the K-Cup nonsense. I would urge those of you who love your Keurig single brew machines to do the same before Keurig makes it impossible with their proposed DRM machines.

I bought two Solofill K3 Silver filters from BJ’s wholesale for $20 and have not looked back. They are available at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and their website.

PS – I have NO affiliation with Solofill other than I’m a very happy client.

Callum says:

This IS free market

I didnt read all of the posts but I got a lfavor people were upset and I understand why, but I think we are looking at this backwards.

In a free market this is totally acceptable. If people want to support this by buying Keurig, then they are expressing their will with their dollars and that is perfectly fine. Nobody is locked to Keurig, there are many alternatives. We dont need government to get involved.

Pity the lack of vision as this will probably hurt them, but don’t get angry because its the consumers who still have all the choice. Time will tell.

CoffeeFreedom says:

Non-licensed manufacturer cracks new Keurig code

Detwiler|Fenton Report – July 14, 2014 – Coffee Wars: Non-licensed manufacturer cracks new Keurig code
Checks indicate that a non-licensed manufacturer has already developed technology that allows non-licensed K-Cups to be
used in the new Keurig 2.0 brewer. We recently reviewed a presentation which shows non-licensed K-Cups being used in the new, Keurig 2.0 brewer. Despite indications from GMCR that non-licensed K-Cups would not work in 2.0, we have observed tests of a non-licensed manufacturer’s K-Cups using an independent, proprietary ink compound that can be “read” by the 2.0’s technology to circumvent GMCR’s walled garden. We believe that the new lids on these non-licensed K-Cups use ink compounds that are available for sale in the public market but are not part of the GMCR supply chain, avoiding patent or supply chain conflicts with GMCR. In brief, the competition appears to have effectively unlocked the 2.0 system before it has been closed. As non-licensed 2.0 K-Cup technology becomes more accessible to retailers and coffee brands, we believe all K-Cup manufacturers, GMCR included, will face more intense price competition which will pressure category profits.

Manny says:

Stupid move, Keurig. I hacked it in a minute

I bought one of the Keurig 2.0 machines and was surprised that it had the proprietary restriction. It took me about a minute to figure out that the way to hack it is to take the lid off of the proprietary-type K Cup (big K) and use a little piece of tape to affix it atop the clone k cups (little k). Keurig doing this only irked me. It’s a good thing I bought it with an expired Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon for 20 percent off and a $100 Visa card from Verizon I traded an old bike for…

kworkley (profile) says:


Recently we had to replace our Keurig, the water pump went out, so we were excited to see the new Keurig models come out, walked up to register, to find out through conversation around register, customers, employees that this “NEW”, model will not let you choose what coffee you like, not even in the in the resuseable cup that the old models gave with the machine. We did not like the tea or coffee that was offered in the K cups. So we were enjoying what we liked in the resusable cup. Very disapointed, so much so, we said forget it, they can keep their monopoly. I can only hope it backfires on them. Such a shame that for years, coffee machine makers, that you could put any coffee in you wanted, they come up with this single serve version and they get greedy. Feel like a little bit of the old Russia coming on……….

Boss61 says:

Here is how to defeat the Keurig DRM

Faced by the happenstance purchase of unsanctioned k-cups that seemed incompatible with my new Keurig 2.0 coffeemaker with DRM RFIP technology, I let my fingers do the walking (to Google).

Searching for “Keurig RFIP hack” or its many variants brought me to helpful Youtube videos of various ingenious workarounds for outsmarting the RFIP system.

Now once again I enjoy all k-cups, branded and unbranded alike, economically. You can too. Just Google…

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