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Total Jerk Move?: Keurig's Next Coffee Maker Will Only Use Proprietary K-Cups

This could be a major bummer for fans of quick coffee on a budget.
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Keurig, maker of those single-serving coffee machines, has revealed that their next-generation devices will not work with any pods or K-Cups that are not "licensed." In other words: Keurig is adding DRM to its coffee! According to Keurig's CEO, this is being done to "ensure the system delivers on the promise of excellent quality beverages produced simply and consistently every time," but seems like a real jerk move.

In this brief — yet lively — video, our experts discuss when locking down a system is OK and when it just feels wrong.

What about you, readers? Tell us what you think about locked-down coffee — or any proprietary systems — in the comments below!


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Staff Writer

Dan Leadbetter is a Staff and Features Writer for DealNews. He enjoys comedy, playing drums, watching horror films, fine cigars, and Absinthe.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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41 comments
gotart
I will never buy a machine that limits what kind of coffee I am to drink. I'm sure they sold millions of the original Keurigs and Probably never run out of a source to buy cups. I also have the fill your own cup as well. If it breaks - I'll buy another companies' machine in protest.
JABrwoky13
Our Keurig system died after 2 years of use. It had probplems pumping water and would not produce a full cup. The best feature of a single cup brew system is that everyone can brew their favorite brand/flavor or caffienated/decaf. We now have the best of both worlds with a Hamilton Beach system we bought. It has a carafe brewer and a single cup brewer in one machine. It's nice to be able to brew a full pot when you have company. It still allows some one who wants a flavored coffee or decaf coffee to brew a single cup. If Keurig is applying DRM to keep cheaper K-cups from messing up their systems and forcing them to pay out on warranty issues, I understand. If you don't like it, buy a different brand that uses K-cups. Mr. Coffee and Cuisinart both make theri own machines.
gusgus
It's just the good'ol American GREED! If you object to their stuff- don't buy it!
jellebeens
Always a go-around for anything...... just get the cheaper pods you want and put them in the reusable filter.......
jchiga
Like nintendo was with no backward compatability. I got a playstation and never looked back. Where is the Playstation of K-cups... I guess we need a K-Station.
vwoom
Keurig going proprietary will become the..."Monsanto" of coffee makers.
gkhutch
Oh Well... Got my Keurig Coffee Maker Now (won it)... So guess I won't need another!!! Too Bad---So Sad...
momsy
I didn't read all the comments but from what I read, you either love 'em or you hate 'em (Keurig). We have both in our home. Hubby loves the Keurig and I think it's an expensive waste of time. It is not at all practical when having a table of 10 or 12 adults over for dinner. Give me a good ole Bunn coffeemaker anytime!
vwoom
Keurig is just like your average glucose meter manufacturer (One Touch, AccuCheck, etc). The meters/kit costs next to nothing...but once you ran out of the "free" glocuse strips included with the kit, the manufacturers will make a killing/gouge you with their proprietary strips. Essentially, you will become a dependent of the manufacturer. An "addict", a sucker... if you will.
rockonstones
Who do they think they are? Apple?
msw48
I was aggravated when HP came out with the chip in the ink cartridge. I went over the edge when I bought a genuine HP refill and the printer refused to accept it. That was the end of the line for me and HP. I will never consider another HP anything when shopping for tech.
regularg0nz0
Just like all of the other idiotic manufacturer-imposed restrictions, it's only going to work if the reason is TRULY to make the experience better for the user. That's why it works for Apple. It's the driving principle.

Sony and the like did it to drive up profits. Keurig is probably doing it because it's losing tons of money on warranty claims, and losing market share to non-licensed k-cup sellers. So, they will fail. But it'll take a while.

In the mean time, those of us that want to circumvent such a restriction will figure out how, and when their own greed sends Keurig under, we'll move on to the nexy technology that presents itself.

In the meantime, I'm gonna go get some coffee.
rbockman
I gave up on kuerig, had three fail on me, my son had one fail on him, even though free replacements were available, who needs the bother. I'm back to a pour-over, it saves me money and I'm satisfied, I just have to rinse the filter.
kip3000
I anticipate a bunch of "Jailbreak" services for the Keurig being posted on Craigslist when this happens.
zeram1
Nespresso, since their patent has expired, is doing the same with their new Vertuo Line. New proprietary capsules in which a "computerized scanning system reads the bar code on your Nespresso VertuoLine capsule, ensuring precision blend-specific brewing for your desired beverage."
gizmovision
I find the whole thing a waste, the personal brewing system that wastes more than any other system and cost 4 times that. look at the price of kerig cocoa, you could buy 4 boxes for the price of one of the kerigs...
rich9nyy
Bring back the dealnews podcast!
Arahanto
probably going to use RFID to unlock machine.
FastZX6R
Isn't that what Keurig Vue is?
drwam
I just bought a new K65 Keurig 50% off due to a Keurig.com coupon. My wife prefers GreenMountain blends, which are owned by Keurig, but I prefer my reusable/refillable Eckobrew stainless steel k-cup. I sure do hope I can still use it or something like it. If not, then I'll buy another brand. Cuisenart seem a little pricey, but may be worth it. Thank you all for the tips.
Mael
I don't have statistics on failures due to use, so I can't say how frequent of an issue that might be. The problem, as I see it, is that unless the brewers themselves make use of the information coded on the cup to actually make a better cup of coffee, tea, iced tea etc. (making it a desired system), all the DRM will really do, from a consumer perspective, is cost them more money. People who aren't price sensitive and always buy Keurig licensed cups now won't notice a difference (unobtrusive DRM). But those who buy non-Keurig branded cups to save money and who want to continue doing so will simply move on to a competing product. Maybe that's fine from the CEO's perspective if they are willing to surrender share in favor of improved service.

As a side note, I can't imagine the Keurig licensed cups will be the same price - either the DRM technology will cost more to manufacture, which will be passed on to the consumer, or Keurig will attempt to increase margin to shore up share losses.
foolthrottle
I think can help clarify some confusion: Keurig is not going to require you to use Keurig K-Cups. They are simply restricting you to use Keurig-licensed cups. Most K-cups today are already licensed so you won't notice much difference once the manufacturing catches up. Also, Keurig is doing this for two reasons you didn't seem to cover: First, they will code the label of the cup so the new brewer can tell which type of cup is inserted. This is valuable to the user so you don't have to tell it yourself. Second, Keurig users feel that the warranty of the device should be valid even if they insert a non-licensed pod that has no cup around it. When the bag bursts and wrecks the coffee maker, the user would get angry with Keurig when they learn that the warranty doesn't cover the use of these products. So, rather than eat these losses, they are improving the experience by reducing failures due to misuse. Which, by the way, is precisely the same thing as the Apple App Store.
tikish
Justified and makes sense!
As a customer I want companies with good ideas being protected, so that more companies will focus on innovations, which ultimately benefit consumers.
Baytroll
The brewing machines are sold at (or below) cost. Why would the company want to either subsidize the sale of unlicensed k-cups or deal with the complaints resulting from shoddy product (Gevalia) running through their machines? Consumers win with a closed system that protects quality and the licensed products. Oh yeah, the cold systems is coming soon as well...I expect to be a loyal customer for years to come!
viahero
Hahahaha.... another idiot CEO leading a company to self-destruction.
wlau89
And this is how Sony failed.
jonathan_gleich
Two words: Black Berry
Janonymouse
Apple did this as well with the new iPhone 5 charging adaptor. The iPhone 4 used a 30 pin adaptor, while the iPhone 5 uses a 5 pin adaptor.
Many products were created to adapt to the old pin. Life Fitness exercise equipment is a good example. The connector used to listen to music while on treadmills or elliptical trainers will be useless in several years. Life Fitness has learned a valuable lesson. Apple lost future interest of a non-competitor.
Mael
This seems like an odd move. I'm guessing it is intended to ward off shareholder concern about Keurig's market share being eroded by competitive brewers ever since the patent expired. They obviously haven't learned the lesson from the music or video game industry: DRM only works if it's completely unobtrusive, ubiquitous to a desired system, and there's no other option.

As none of these three things are true at this point in the coffee cup brewer world, my prediction is that this will encourage people to find a competing brand of brewer that doesn't care about who makes the K-Cup when it comes time to replace their Keurig.
dealguy
How dare a company lock me into a proprietary walled system! I'm going use my iPhone right now and tell people on Facebook.
Tiernan
Bad idea. Though I just got a Keurig device, you can be certain that, from this point on, I will not be purchasing any Keurig product to use in it (already got a reusable k-cup). I cant help but think that they may be yet convinced (by consumers) to reconsider.
kyungone
I am not sure who in the upper managements come up with these ideas.

I remember Samsung updated their phone so 3rd party cases won't work with some of their phone functions such as automatic wake up. Oh come on...

It's their product so they have freedom to design however they want but customer these days are very informed and resilient.

JC Penny *cough* Fair and Square pricing *cough*...
oberz3
I like my Keurig well enough, but I won't pay for their overpriced K-cups. I got one of those K-Cups Reusable Coffee Filters (it was a gift) to use and I LOVE IT! Saves a lot of money and I can use the coffee I like best.
eboz12
Wow, the ignorance of CEOs never ceases to amaze me. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at past case studies to see that every time a company wants to try and corner the market - it ends poorly (Beta Max, Sony Memory Stick, Circuit City DIVX DVD Player, etc).

My next coffee maker will most certainly not be a Keurig
jestolt
What about the my k-cup they sell to use your own coffee grounds? The coffee they sell is a bit pricy.
NewLeaf
Using the little cups never made that much sense to me in the first place. Why not just brew some coffee, if you want coffee? It's simple, delicious and hardly takes any time at all. As for Keurig's decision, this will certainly go down in coffee history as a "what in the world were they thinking?" moment.
Scott911
I like Cuisinart's product a lot better than the kurig branded machines - it's just much, much better made in my opinion. If I'm not mistaken, I got a great deal on it via a lead form dealnews too.

The cuisinart works with kurig cup, and any k-cups. and you can use your own coffee in the little supplied holder.

I like the coffee that comes from a company called San Francisco bay coffee company - they omit the plastic shell on the bottom of the 'pod' saving a lot of land fill bound waste. And the coffees are very good - they work in all K cup compatible machines - and they're roughly half the price of comparable coffee.
doconnell864
HELLO COMPETITION - THANK YOU for committing financial suicide Keurig, nobody needs your proprietary nastiness any longer. Consumers win on this one.
peppermsu
This seems like the perfect opportunity for another company to come out with something similar, but without locking you in to their cups. Either that or somebody is going to have to figure out a way around the method that they use to try to force you to use their K-Kups. It seems like they would suffer more of a loss in revenue by forcing current user away and by making those who we're thinking about getting a Keurig to look elsewhere, then what they are loosing by allowing third party coffee to be used in their products. I like there concept and the ease of use, but I after hearing about this I would never purchase one of their coffee makers. Who know how long it will be before they decide to make another switch make current users buy a new device again. Seems like a foolish move. It is like when the music industry tried to put DRM protection on music, but a few years later Apple decided to remove that from iTunes and so the other companies did the same thing.
dinkyep
Bad move. If and when my keurig fails, this decision will absolutely force me to explore other options. I already do with tea, a keurig simply can not properly brew tea. Someone please put on their thinking cap?
ski522
See ya Keurig...like to know what moron at the company thought this was a good idea!
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