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?

Filed Under: advertising, coffee, drm, hack, keurig
Companies: green mountain roasters, keurig, rogers, rogers family company coffee and tea


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 2:13am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 4:23am

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

      Defending against a lawsuit should be part of the plan. Do it loudly and advertise all the simple hacks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 2:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 3:19am

    A DRM circumvention lawsuit is already brewing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 4:28am

    In the 3.0 version, it will shoot you with scalding coffee and have you sent to prison for 10 years if you even have a random thought about its DRM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:09am

    Oh the competition is frightful
    But monopolies so delightful
    And since we've got nothing new
    Let us sue, let us sue, let us sue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jay, 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:14am

    Why Bother??

    Why even bother using the Keurig at all? I mean it's not the only coffee maker in the world. I will never use one-and this is one reason why!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 6:31am

      Re: Why Bother??

      beans or die

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jackn, 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:16am

      Re: Why Bother??

      I would never use it as well, but for different reasons. I like my coffee freshly ground and I don't like petroleum products to come in contact with my coffee.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re: Why Bother??

        How do you avoid petroleum products from coming in contact with your coffee? I feel like this is almost impossible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          jackn2, 4 Feb 2015 @ 6:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why Bother??

          I guess it is close to impossible, but I don't like the idea of hot water and plastic in my coffee. I use an espresso machine with metal portafilter. I like lungos. I sure there is plastic, but as far as plastic and hot-water, I have minimized it as much as possible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Niall (profile), 5 Feb 2015 @ 3:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why Bother??

            I think you meant hot water with plastic - I don't know what kind of coffee you'd have without hot water!

            Although knowing you Americans, you've probably got some cold coffee variant...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 8:02am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:34am

    Yeah, I'm still grinding my own beans, thanks. Apart from the fact it tastes better, quick, convenient and "good enough" coffee is how unhealthy habits start.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:39am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    david karla (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:51am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRGiGbX9lIo the other reason. these things are not biodegradable or recyclable ... why go down this path when home ground coffee on a classic machine is the best taste experience. the drm is only adding insult to injury

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tom Betz (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:50am

      Rogers is already being sued

      The Rogers Family coffee roasters are already being targeted by Keurig's lawyers because they sell their own biodegradable OneCup that works fine in Keurig machines. That's why Rogers developed the Freedom Clip in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    miatajim (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 5:52am

    I requested one from Rogers last week. Not for me but for a friend that got one for xmas. I like my knock-off Bunn that brews a 12 cup pot in under 3 minutes. Having fast amount of coffee on demand has personally been the reason people around me are still alive. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 6:16am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 6:30am

    DRM from GreedMountain Coffee

    is no better than their coffee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:02am

    Still no sale

    Let me know when they make a pod that'll put an ounce of Irish whiskey in my coffee.

    Until then, I'll stick with making my coffee the old fashioned way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    metalliqaz (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:07am

    DRM is like violence...

    DRM is like violence. If it isn't working, the solution is always to use more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:21am

    I was thinking about starting a business buying up Keurig 2.0 coffee makers, "mod-chipping" them, and then re-selling them.

    What is the legality of this? And even if technically legal, can this still result in a SWAT team busting in and shooting my dog?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:37am

      Re:

      Anything can result in a SWAT team busting in and shooting your dog.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:43am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:22am

    Keurig is a caffeine delivery system for morons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 7:24am

    Drink tea!

    I have a nice bright red ten cup teapot, it takes any brand of tea leaves, and even teabags if you insist :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 9:05am

    "He had found a Keurig machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Javanonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 9:13am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JWW (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 9:27am

    Takes me back

    Damn, this take me back to when you'd use a paper punch to notch out a tab on the floppy disk so the other side could be used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:28am

      Re: Takes me back

      Or when you could double the speed of a computer's processor simply by moving a jumper on the MB. It sure was a lot of fun to be able to buck the system all the time back then.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JerkMcJerkface, 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:03am

    How exactly would this be DRM? There's nothing "digitial" to have "digital rights" over. How would the DMCA even apply here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 11:15am

      Re:

      While not technically DRM, what Keurig is doing falls squarely into the realm of DRM as the term is commonly used.

      The DMCA doesn't enter into it because there is no copyright being protected here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JerkMcJerkface, 4 Feb 2015 @ 1:01pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 1:28pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 8:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            They don't have to win the lawsuit to win the case, all they need to do is make it more money than it's worth fighting for the other company.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bougiefever (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:38am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JBDragon (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 4:12pm

      Re: Keurig's DRM Scheme Will Fail

      I think like many company's, they'll double down on the DRM!!! A new 2.0 version that's just a little harder to hack at first. It'll fail in the end of course, but they don't care.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Feb 2015 @ 9:51am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Shel10 (profile), 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:39am

    Keurig DRM

    The cartoon providing instructions on how to use a non-Keurig sanctioned device looks like a device that could be attached to a toilet! Is the author of the Hack adding a second message?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:41am

    Ordered it

    I've already requested my free blocker. Even if Green Mountain were able to find a way to sue and win, what are they going to do? Go around to everyone who requested this device, and order that it be turned over to Federal Marshalls? That would be a hoot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2015 @ 10:59am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 4 Feb 2015 @ 3:56pm

    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! :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Edra Green, 16 Mar 2015 @ 5:30pm

    How to use clip

    Received the clip, thank you. Do we use a used Kurig pod for regular coffee in 3.0 pot? What do we use for a lid?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nasir, 27 Jun 2016 @ 7:35am

    manufacturer

    thanks for sharing information. manufatures

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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