Please Don't Take My K-Cups Away


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.