Keurig Competitor Offers Free Hack Workaround For Keurig's Absurd Java Bean DRM

from the you-do-it-to-yourself dept

We’ve of course been covering for some time Keurig’s attempt to lock down the coffee pod market via the “java DRM” it embedded in its latest Keurig 2.0 coffee maker. The technology effectively tries to stop consumers from being able to use competitors’ replacement pods (or the reusable pods), something the company’s CEO originally (and quite feebly) tried to insist was necessary for the performance of the product and safety of the consumer. Not surprisingly, the effort resulted in a lot of mockery and a number of lawsuits, and it didn’t take long for consumers to figure out ridiculously simple ways to beat the technology.

In an entirely new level of entertainment, Keurig competitors have now taken things one step further, and are giving away free Keurig 2.0 hacks that allow consumers to use whatever pods they like. Rogers Family Company Coffee and Tea’s new plastic “Freedom Clip” simply attaches to the inside of the maker and fools the embedded scanner into believing all inserted coffee pods have been sanctioned by the great Keurig coffee authorities on high:

Granted you can do the same thing with a piece of tape, but it’s a more permanent and convenient solution for those who still insist on using a Keurig (instead of a traditional espresso machine like a civilized person). Rogers is, of course, milking Keurig’s ham-fisted attempt at market dominance for all it’s worth over at the company website:

“It does this by visually identifying a special ink on the lidding. Any cup without this ?special? ink is rejected by the machine thus ensuring Keurig?s marketplace dominance. While other companies are quickly working to adopt this special ink to their cups we at Rogers Family Company believe that your right to choose any option is imperative…This clip is our gift to you. Now go forth and brew with freedom.”

So really, all Keurig managed to accomplish with its ham-fisted java-bean DRM is make itself look incompetent and greedy, while at the same time giving competitors a massive new marketing opportunity by offering choice and freedom back to Keurig customers. Surely these lessons will be reflected in Keurig 3.0, right?

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Companies: green mountain roasters, keurig, rogers, rogers family company coffee and tea

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Comments on “Keurig Competitor Offers Free Hack Workaround For Keurig's Absurd Java Bean DRM”

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52 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Next Week's forecast: Solid PR with a high chance of legal action

So, assuming they follow up their previous greed driven actions with more of the same, I imagine it will only be a matter of time until Keurig attempts to try and force this company into stopping via a lawsuit or threat of one.

All that effort into trying to lock down their customers with blatant, greed driven actions, completely bypassed with a simple piece of plastic.

Yeah, I don’t imagine Keurig will take this development well.

Ninja (profile) says:

I like the idea of using such pods (I see your snarky “regular espresso” remark!) due to their ease of use and readiness. Little cleaning or preparation is needed. So if I had to choose between both I’d go for the pods (not necessarily from Keurig) but eventually I’d have both.

In any case it’s good that these companies suffer a lot of public shame so maybe this DRMing fever dies down.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why Bother??

Why even bother using the Keurig at all?

This’s the bit that amazes me too. They don’t even make a great cup of coffee! It produces hot brown water, not what I’d call a satisfying cup of coffee. They’re not adjustable for different strengths, which is what I’d consider the most important consideration. For the price they sell for, it’s ridiculous.

They don’t even win on convenience. I use a #2 paper cone for one cup at a time. I also have a stand-alone maker for a pot at a time. Pour in water, include however much of whatever kind of coffee you want for the strength of brew, and save a potload of cash over the life of both getting just the sort of coffee you want. Paper filters, or reusable plastic ones, are cheap and easily disposed of when used, then replaced.

Why bother with Keurig? The only positive it gives you is a reservoir you fill with water periodically, instead of once per pot. Woopee.

People who buy Keurigs are suckers.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

When the wife and I were shopping she mentioned the new Keurig machines were on sale and thought we should upgrade. I told her about how Keurig is using DRM on this new machine.

She said to me what’s DRM? So I explained to her what DRM is and does and why Keurig is using it.

Once I explained to her that her favorite cup’s would not work in the machine because of DRM, the idea of upgrading our current machine went out the window.

Ed (profile) says:

I do like the convenience of the Keurig machines, and I think that, properly used, they can make a very good cup of coffee. I had one of the older machines (without DRM), and I used the Melita JavaJig cups. They are reusable, take inexpensive Melita paper filters, and my own freshly-ground coffee. I also used the Ekocups, another reusable cup for the Keurig machines but I preferred the Melita. Sadly, my Keurig machine gave up the ghost after 3 years of daily use. I chose not to buy another one, for now.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Legality has nothing to do with it, the only question of importance is ‘Would that make you a big enough annoyance and/or threat that they’d be willing to bankrupt you with court fees?’

Being found legally right in court doesn’t do you much good if simply defending yourself drains every last cent you had, and large companies know and use this.

Javanonymous Coward says:

DRM sucks, but Keurig 1.0 has its place

I grind my own beans and french press. It’s awesome.
I prefer loose leaf tea. It’s also awesome.

At the same time, at least once a week I’ll fire up my Keurig for a cup of something fast,convenient, and just okay. I don’t really think that I’m compromising because I know what I’m getting, and I’ve had my machine long enough to know what I like.

It’s like movies:
Sometimes I feel like artisanal art-house coffee.
Sometimes I feel like kicking back with some trashy coffee-sploitation.

It’s a shame that Keurig has to try and deliberately ruin that for future consumers.

JerkMcJerkface says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are there any laws or case history of this sort of thing where circumventing would be breaking a law? It’s not like you are circumventing “DRM” since there’s nothign digital about it, like circumventing DRM from a DVD player or something else that allows you to access digital media.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There was a very similar case where a printer manufacturer had a special chip with their ink cartridges which prevented the printer from working with replacement cartridges made by other companies. The other companies came out with cartridges that would work and the printer manufacturer sued. The courts basically said “GTFO – you can’t use copyright to protect things that aren’t copyright.” So that’s more or less directly on point. Keurig has zero chance of success in a lawsuit.

bougiefever (profile) says:

Keurig's DRM Scheme Will Fail

I think Keurig is going to drop this ridiculous idea. I know I’m not very good at predicting, especially about the future, but that is the only rational decision I can see for them. Of course, they were irrational enough to invest in this idea to begin with, so who knows? I just bought myself a brand new percolator while my Keurig sits unused on my counter, so I’ll be watching this from the sidelines.

BTW, my percolator makes a fair cup of coffee. Nothing to rave about, but it’s convenient, stays hot, and doesn’t create garbage (other than grounds). I’ll save the pour-over, which is truly the best, for the weekends when I have time to spend 5 minutes brewing a single cup of coffee.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Keurig's DRM Scheme Will Fail

“I think Keurig is going to drop this ridiculous idea. I know I’m not very good at predicting, especially about the future, but that is the only rational decision I can see for them”

This is far from clear to me. I think they’ll count the beans and crunch the numbers and go with whichever approach they think will maximize profits. Since their target market is businesses and people who aren’t really into coffee, it’s entirely possible that the lock-in will earn them the most.

Anonymous Coward says:

I had never heard of a Keurig before the companies decision to install this DRM was mentioned here. If I remember correctly their patent had run out.

Because I’d never heard of them, I had no good nor bad opinion about them. If I had been willing at the time to try something new, it is likely I would have picked one up.

Then I read the article about the DRM and the coffee protection scheme.

After that I saw one in Walmart. I recognized the name right away. I knew about it and it wasn’t a good rep. Told my wife about it and we walked on, assured we would never try that appliance. As far as I am concerned it has a STD.

bob (profile) says:

keurig 3.0

keurig 3.0 will indeed make note of this lesson.
3.0 cups will include nfc chips with unique codes which the machine will scan, process for validity, and memorize so that the same nfc chip cannot be used more than once per machine.
Keurig 4.0 will require to be connected to the internet to brew coffee, checking the NFC marker against a database of used nfc chip codes.
lesson learned! πŸ™‚

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