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VodkaPundit

Please Don’t Take My K-Cups Away

July 1st, 2014 - 2:27 pm

K75

As the only coffee drinker here at Casa Verde, my Keurig K75 has been a godsend. I used to buy nothing but Starbucks’ Komodo blend, which I still love — but the consistency wasn’t there. The first cup was great, the second cup so-so, the third cup pretty much dead-cold. Making things worse, a one-pound bag would go stale before I could finish half of it. So I was getting one great cup of coffee a day, for maybe two weeks out of the month. The other cups… not so good.

Even the best K-Cups probably aren’t on par with your grind-it-right-before-brewing bean of choice. But my second K-Cup mug is better than my second drip mug, and the third one K-Cup is far superior. And now most afternoons I have a fourth cup, because why the heck not — it hasn’t been sitting there all day and there’s no extra mess to clean up.

And honestly, after a year I might actually prefer Barista Prima’s Italian roast K-Cup to most any other coffee I’ve ever had. It’s a real ass-kicker first thing in the morning. So, be choosey and you can do all right drinking Keurig.

The problem is that Keurig is trying to take away some of your choices by adding what amounts to DRM to future brewers:

At a Keurig tasting event in New York last week, an employee showed me how it worked. Or, rather, he showed me that it worked. Keurig isn’t saying much about the mechanism itself, presumably in the hopes of obscuring it from aspiring coffee pirates.

When the Keurig employee tried to use an old-model pod, one without a new ink marker on the foil top, the brewer wouldn’t run. “Oops!” read a message on the touchscreen display, explaining that the machine only works with specially designed pods and directing the user to a Keurig website and helpline. The employee wouldn’t elaborate on how it worked, except to say that the ink is proprietary and inspired by counterfeiting technology used by the US Mint. Ian Tinkler, Keurig’s vice president of brewer engineering, went into a bit more detail, explaining that an infrared light shines on the ink marking and registers the wavelength of the light reflected back.

My second-favorite K-Cup is Marley Coffee’s “One Love,” which isn’t blessed with the Keurig label because they use their own (better) filter system. Presumably Marley would have to start ponying up and towing the line to work in the new brewers.

I’m sure Keurig’s secret Masonic coffee handshake will be reversed-engineered or cracked within days or, at the most, within weeks, and I could go back to my Marley on the weekends. And I understand a company wanting to protect its business model. But I’d rather they charged more for their brewers (and engineered sturdier brewers) than to pull this kind of pointless malarkey.

The whole affair just looks tired and sad, which is the exact opposite of what a good cup of coffee is supposed to achieve.

Top Rated Comments   
"The first cup was great, the second cup so-so, the third cup pretty much dead-cold."

Now here's something I never thought I'd say: Stephen Green, you just need to drink faster.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
There are k-cup compatible brewers AND K-cups. Mother Parkers in Canada makes compatible K-cup coffees. Compatible brewers are available see e.g. http://www.singleservecoffee.com/archives/046253.php
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Highly recommend the Costco Pacific Bold K-cups. A close second are the Emeril Big Easy Bold.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sigh..... We have three Keurigs. One at home, one at each of our offices.

Wife and I have agreed. If Keurig does this, they all go in the trash. We install a hot water dispenser at the sink, and use a French Press.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'll stick with my ecosystem of: a burr grinder, tea kettle and the Aeropress.

Yes, it's a procedure, but so is DE razor shaving and the results - and savings - speak for themselves.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you decide to abandon the Keurig, there are ways to address both of your problems.

First, use a coffeemaker with a thermal carafe. The last cup will be as good as the first.

And store your opened beans under a vacuum, using something like a foodsaver canister.

Not as convenient for sure, but they both work wonders on the coffee flavor.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Even in a warehouse store, the per pound cost of K-cup (and any other one shot brews) are obscenely overpriced, which is why Keurig wants to lock you into only the brands that kick them back money.

I'm not paying a Keurig tax on my coffee. I'll drink McDonald's superheated candle soot before I cave on that.

It's like printer ink or toner, but drinkable. The convenience doesn't come close to justifying the cost. I'd rather get a $300 refurb espresso machine from woot.

Sony used to be in the game of making their stuff not work with other stuff. As a result, I don't have a Sony product in the house. Lexmark's tried that with their printers, and One Bum Machine is notorious for it. Last thing I need is a format/DRM war over frikkin coffee.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Keurig has seemed to try a "new" cup format with their Vue line of coffee makers. I've only seen them in stores, and never in an office or someone's house. Guess this is their latest attempt.

If this is all they market in the future, it's time to get into the business of refurbishing their original coffee makers.

"Like printer companies with their inkjet cartridges, Keurig’s business model is built on selling machines cheap and then reaping huge profits on the refills." - Really? Selling their machines cheap? My Keurig is the most expensive coffee maker I've ever purchased. I can get a drip machine for under $20. I have a good Farberware percolator for when I need to make a whole pot of coffee. (Still cheaper than a Keurig)
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
My initial reaction is: so I need to take a used top and permanently stick it in front of the reader? How does this help keurig?
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The first cup was great, the second cup so-so, the third cup pretty much dead-cold."

Now here's something I never thought I'd say: Stephen Green, you just need to drink faster.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thread winner.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's just the usual patent follies. The K-cup patent expired a couple years ago, so Keurig is following the usual industry model of widget protection.

They'd be smart to realize that nobody who buys their products gives a fig that Keurig is the one making them. We want a convenient method of quickly brewing a cup of whatever with minimal mess and waste. If it's not trivially easy for third parties to register to use the magic ink, it really would not be that difficult for some random consortium of appliance makers to crank out a competing format. From a packaging standpoint, it's unlikely many third party coffee/etc producers will care what they stuff their product in, so long as people buy it.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Alternative to Green Mountain/Keurig that fits the existing Keurig brewer is:
http://realcup.com/
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
This. The effort of trying to lock in their customers will only drive away those customers. Folks do not like being compelled. This just opens the door to their competitors to steal their customers. "Our coffeemaker lets you use any of your favorite coffee blends, unlike Keurig, which forces you to only use their blends."

If they want to keep people buying their blends, then they should make better blends and market them separately. Of course, these corporate types tend towards monopolistic thinking, don't they?
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
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