Keurig Insists Coffee DRM Brings 'Interactive-Enabled Benefits' And Is For Your Own Safety

from the I-got-this-scar-from-my-coffee-maker dept

As we recently discussed, Keurig is busy making plans to embed new technology in their new “Keurig 2.0” line of coffee makers that will reject unsanctioned (read: less expensive, competing) coffee pods. The technology would also presumably prevent the use of manual re-usable filters, which are usually found for between five and fifteen bucks online. Keurig’s CEO announced the plans to reject “unlicensed pods” last fall, but somehow nobody seemed to really notice the effort until an annoyed competitor pointed it out in a lawsuit (pdf).

Needless to say, Keurig users and the general public weren’t particularly enamored of Keurig’s plans to lock down their brewing options, with countless users taking to Twitter to complain. The company didn’t seem prepared to handle the media reaction to their plans for java-based “DRM.” Nor did they seem prepared to give anybody a straight answer, even though their own CEO already confirmed the pod-blocking functionality. As such, Keurig simply started insisting to anyone that asked that the new technology delivered “interactive-enabled benefits”:

As you might be able to tell, it appears the company is unwilling to directly acknowledge the fact that they’re locking out competitors’ less expensive pods. More creative attempts to get Keurig to explain these advanced interactive benefits also proved fruitless:
After a few days and clearly a few meetings, Keurig released a public statement that attempted to flesh out their non-answer. While still refusing to admit something their own CEO already acknowledged, Keurig decided to push the mystery added benefits angle a little harder, even going so far as to claim that blocking you from getting cheaper competing product is about your safety:

“To make brewing a carafe possible, and to continue to deliver everything Keurig lovers already enjoy – high-quality beverages, simplicity, and variety – our new Keurig 2.0 system will feature specially designed interactive technology allowing the brewer to read information about the inserted Keurig pack. With this interactive capability, Keurig 2.0 brewers will “know” the optimal settings for the inserted Keurig pack, for a perfect beverage every time, whether a single cup or a carafe. It’s critical for performance and safety reasons that our new system includes this technology. For those of you who currently own our K-Cup or Vue systems today, we are so happy to have you as part of our family. Rest assured that your brewers will still function as they always have and that your favorite beverages will still be available.”

In other words, we must be able to lock competitors’ pods (and manual refill units) out of the market to keep you safe from the dangers of potentially lower costs and dreaded coffee-related injury. It’s also impossible for us to embed this obnoxious technology in older units, so those will continue to function as you prefer them to — without us interfering in your purchase options. Sure, you’re losing purchase options and will have to pay more for coffee, but isn’t the security of knowing your family is safe from the dangers of coffee-related hazards worth it?

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Companies: keurig

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Comments on “Keurig Insists Coffee DRM Brings 'Interactive-Enabled Benefits' And Is For Your Own Safety”

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btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: So...

While Keurig’s actions may be shitty and annoying, I don’t get the basis for the lawsuit against them. It’s not like one has a general legal obligation to design one’s products in such a way that makes it easy for others to compete with them. Keurig can’t stop someone from designing and selling coffee packs that work with their machines, but neither are they obligated to design their machines to make it easy for others to do so.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Close. They’re saying that they have to have 100% of the refill market at any cost, and they don’t mind coming up with ridiculous excuses for the steps they need to take at the expense of their own customers to do so. I’m sure they don’t care whether you’re drinking your own weight in caffeine or not so long as they’re paid for it.

sorrykb (profile) says:

The "interactive" features, as explained by Douglas Adams

“When the ‘Drink’ button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject’s brain to see what is likely to be well received.
However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”

Anonymous Coward says:

” our new Keurig 2.0 system will feature specially designed interactive technology allowing the brewer to read information about the inserted Keurig pack”

Because the user isn’t smart enough to know what they want….

Why does every company think they have to tell me how to do everything? I’m not helpless*!

*unless you tie my hands and take away my ability to interact how I want with my own stuff

Sean says:

Re: Re:

As I understand it, the new pods have a flat top with a hemispherical reservoir for whatever the pod contains, and around the underside of the rim is a barcode that identifies the contents of the pod, so that the machine knows whether it’s a normal coffee pod and brews a 12-ounce cup of coffee at low pressure, an espresso pod that only needs 2.5 ounces of water but needs to be forced through at high pressure, or is tea or hot chocolate that take different brewing patterns. As such, identifying common patterns between different styles of regular coffee and of espresso would allow the creation of ‘generic’ barcodes that could be printed on 3rd-party pods to give the same brewing instructions as the OEM pods.

One possible outcome of the lawsuit is that Keurig would be required to make the barcode algorithm public, so that anyone would be able to make a compatible coffee pod with the correct barcode for brewing in Keurig machines.

Oblate (profile) says:

Keurig's long term plan

I think this is the first step of their long term plan to produce their own version of the Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser from HHGTTG. There are parallels- having had “coffee” in England, I think I know where the inspiration for the sludge served up by this machine comes from. Adding DRM will allow them to prepare the sludge optimally, with the highest performance and safety possible.

So looking forward to this…

Anonymous Coward says:

So have they explained what will happen when the coffee pot’s new detector breaks and it’s unable to “read information about the inserted Keurig pack”? They will inevitably break, and there should be no technical reason it can’t fall back to operating like their current pots just because it does not “?know? the optimal settings for the inserted Keurig pack”. I rather doubt their customer base would be pleased with needing to service or replace their coffee pot simply because a sensor broke.

t3rminus (profile) says:

Wouldn't use a Keurig

… If it wasn’t for those re-usable filters. Saving money, and keeping plastic K-cups out of landfills is a great part of it, sure. The real reason is that my favourite locally-roasted coffee just isn’t available in K-cup format. I rarely want to brew a whole pot, and like the convenience of not having to constantly clean a press.

Needless to say I will not be buying one of their new brewers, unless I can use my own coffee.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wouldn't use a Keurig

I use the “as seen on TV” ones you can buy at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc. They come 4 to a package, 2 red, 2 black, and are $10 if I remember right. What I like about them as opposed to the “official” reusable cup, is you don’t have to replace the bottom carrier in the machine to use them. You fill them with grounds and put it in just like a disposable. This means I don’t have to futz with changing part of the machine back and forth to go from my own coffee to one of the actual k-cups.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wouldn't use a Keurig

Here is a Keurig reusable filter on Amazon for about $8 plus free shipping:

I’ve had 3 Keurigs in succession over 8 years: they seem to burn out or stop working in 3 to 4 years. I got the last two Keurigs at Costco and they both came with a ton of K-cups and a reusable filter. The filter comes in three parts, the cup, the screw-on top, and the washable filter, so now I have two, which makes it quicker to switch out fresh coffee grounds when I have a visitor. I never use k-cups unless I get them free. I buy really good coffee beans that I grind myself every other week or so and have always found the K-cups to have sub-par, dried out coffee grounds in them despite the fancy brands. I won’t buy Keurig unless I can make coffee from my own beans, so when next I buy a replacement, I’ll look for some other brand.

Ben F says:

New Revenue Stream

This opens up a whole new revenue stream for Keurig — They will now be able sue their end users for circumventing the DRM in their coffee machines to accept the cheaper pods. Win Win Taking a page from the music industry, just multiply the cost difference of the cheaper pod times the potential number of cups a Keurig can brew in it’s lifetime. I am not kidding it is inevitable.

streetlight (profile) says:

Will the new coffee maker be Internet connected?

This new device must have an internet connection: Ipv4 and Ipv6 capable, 802.11 a, b, n, ac, gigabit ethernet. This so newer, more intrusive firmware and DRM can be installed to defeat any hacks and provide more useful, controlled options. Control through a lan connected device, including lap top or desktop computer, iOS or Android phone or tablet. Optional 11.6 inch monitor and Bluetooth keyboard can be had. The March of Technology.

jackn says:

Re: Will the new coffee maker be Internet connected?

actually, it wont even make coffee unless it is connected to the internet.

Just like keuring 1.0, this is for suckers. If you really like coffee (and the environment), i would get something like one of these

both are great. You would need a good grinder too.

Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sure, a 3rd party replacement could leak. That’s a risk the buyer takes, and it’s not warranted by the manufacturer. But even then, manufacturers don’t get carte-blanche for that, either. I can use aftermarket air filters and oil filters on my car, even aftermarket parts, and if the problem isn’t directly connected to the aftermarket part, they can’t deny warranty service. Same with appliances.

For someone speaking about being uninformed:

To save you actually reading:

“Tie-In Sales” Provisions

Generally, tie-in sales provisions are not allowed. Such a provision would require a purchaser of the warranted product to buy an item or service from a particular company to use with the warranted product in order to be eligible to receive a remedy under the warranty. The following are examples of prohibited tie-in sales provisions.

In order to keep your new Plenum Brand Vacuum Cleaner warranty in effect, you must use genuine Plenum Brand Filter Bags. Failure to have scheduled maintenance performed, at your expense, by the Great American Maintenance Company, Inc., voids this warranty.

While you cannot use a tie-in sales provision, your warranty need not cover use of replacement parts, repairs, or maintenance that is inappropriate for your product. The following is an example of a permissible provision that excludes coverage of such things.

While necessary maintenance or repairs on your AudioMundo Stereo System can be performed by any company, we recommend that you use only authorized AudioMundo dealers. Improper or incorrectly performed maintenance or repair voids this warranty.

So… yeah. No legitimate reason for it, and it’s unconscionable to try to justify it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“1. A cheap 3rd party capsule could leak and hence damage the appliance. “

It could also be damaged if I decide to try using Coke instead of water or decide to try to drop kick it across the kitchen. Ditto if I try to modify the device to change the way it works, its capacity, turn it into a tea maker or anything else.

In all of these cases, it’s my right to do whatever I wish. For the manufacturer, the appropriate response is “you misused the appliance and it’s not covered under our warranty as stated in the enclosed warranty agreement”, not “we will try to make it impossible for you to use the device in any way we haven’t approved”.

“2. None of this is new – all appliance manufacturers take steps to limit use of 3rd party capsules where they possibly can..”

…and the newness or regularity of such actions does not justify them. It’s a cash grab, nothing more, and you’re either a fool or a liar if you say otherwise (unless you’re one of those rare people willing to argue armed with facts, of course).

JoeCool (profile) says:

Doesn't matter in the US

US law is pretty settled on this now (by at least two cases that set precedence) – if you use patent or copyright protection as a security measure, it loses said protection and competitors are fulled allowed to use exact copies of the protection for interoperability. The cases were concerning Lexmark printers and some garage door maker, and exactly match this case here. Keurig doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on concerning competitors making compatible pods.

Trevor says:


since “it?s critical for performance and safety reasons that our new system includes this technology,” does that mean Keurig will be issuing a voluntary recall of all previous Keurig models, and replace them with this new unit, free of charge to the user?

Or should someone contact the FDA about the potentially harmful Keurig models on the market at the moment?

Jason says:

“Interactive enabled benefits”

Translated: Your machine will detect a coffee packet has been inserted. Your machine will actively scan the coffee packet. The coffee in your machine will be compared to a list of approved coffee packages that we will allow you to use in your machine. If the package you have inserted matches one of the previously approved packets on the list, then we shall grant you the benefit of a cup of coffee.

Enjoy your “Interactive Enabled Benefits”

Anonymous Coward says:

“going so far as to claim that blocking you from getting cheaper competing product is about your safety:

“To make brewing a carafe possible, and to continue to deliver everything Keurig lovers already enjoy ….. It?s critical for performance and safety reasons that our new system includes this technology.”

Be fair. They don’t claim it’s for the user’s safety at all. It could be for the safety of their CP (pronounced CoffeePee, closely related to EyePee).

Paul says:

Death of a company

And here we see how a company dies. Not by the swift decapitating blade of a competitors better product, but by a hundred thousand pissed off customers who are now returning their Keurig machines to their places of purchase. Woe befalls them as their short sighted quest to corner a market fostered not loyalty to their brand, but hatred to their blind ambition and callous aloofness.

I never saw the point in these machines since its takes all of 30 seconds to start a pot (or a cups worth of a pot) of coffee in a $15 Mr Coffee machine. I spent $40 for my machine as it has a clock and auto start an that is as far as I go. If you are so needing to spend $200 on a coffee maker that makes 1 cup at a time, you would be better off stopping by a coffee shop every morning rather than buying new pods for what will eventually be a premium priced crap in a wasteful plastic tub.

Coffenonomus says:

DRM Hack keurig

Tools: scissors, clear tape, Barcoded new k-cup old refillable k-cup

Step 1 careful dissect your k-cup with scissors and cut out the barcode

Step 2 tape barcode on refillable unit.

Step 3 brew as normal

Step 4 screw Kurieg. I like the machine because I am the only one in my house that drinks coffee so it is convienent and clean (I have 2 young kids the last thing I need is more clean up). But hate most k-cups. I buy from my local roaster and have a burr grinder and make a serving and brew fresh.

A. Nnoyed (profile) says:

Keurig hypocritrical

When Keurig’s management mentions customer safety they are hypocritical. Keurig failed to properly test a Mr. Coffee Keurig Pod Coffee maker they licensed. As a result a recall was ordered on August 30, 2012 here:

Furthermore Keurig management failed to learn from Tassimo’s experience with proprietary pods. In 2006 most stores that sold small appliances sold Tassimo coffee makers. I am now unable to find Tassimo brewers sold anywhere but on line. I was originally a Tassimo customer but replaced the Tassimo with a Keurig around 2009 because it was difficult to find Tassimo Pods and because of Tassimo’s restrictions preventing me at the time, from making French Vanilla Coffee in the Tassimo Brewer. By requiring customers to use proprietary pods, Keurig management is writing there own epitaph.

Michael says:

keurig alternative

Yes, Keurig just doesn’t want to have competition. Yet just use a keurig alternative such as the AeroPress and save a ton of money and get the best cup of coffee I ever tasted, or use the Mr Coffee machine and save even more without needing to buy the expensive k-cups

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