Brand Ecch!

(For the title reference, click here.)

I almost never drink coffee — when I do, it’s in sissymaryfroufrou frappuccino form, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. However, this caught my attention this morning.

Keurig coffeemakers have popped up lots of places in the last few years, using the so-called K-cup system to provide small-batch/single serving coffee to those who like it. Mrs. M is an ardent user, for example, although I don’t think we have the Keurig version, befitting our status as Keurig taste/Mr. Coffee budget kinds of people. Sometimes she gets the little single-shot cups, and sometimes she uses the familiar Folger’s/Maxwell House type I recall from my youth.

In any case, this year Keurig came out with a new model of coffeemaker, and it seems to have stirred up a tempest in a carafe. Apparently, the new machines use something akin to Digital Rights Management scanning tech to identify whether a particular single-shot coffee cup has cut some sort of deal with the manufacturer. If not, the machine refuses to brew the offending coffee.

Now, people being what they are, folks are figuring out workarounds and hacks to get their jolt of preference. Still, I can’t help but wonder at a world in which a cup of joe is viewed as a proprietary — even a would-be monopolistic — process.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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3 Responses to Brand Ecch!

  1. An occasional cup of sissymaryfroufrou frappuccino is all we ever indulge in at our house, so we love the Keurig which gives any coffee drinking guests the opportunity to enjoy a single cup without the hassle of making a full pot no one will ever drink. That being said, I’m waiting for the model with a biometric scanner so I can be assured there will never be any unauthorized brewing shenanigans in my home.

  2. Jerome Scott says:

    I’m not sure why it works that way, but I’m sure you’re only going to see more of it. I’ve been hanging on to some stock in Sodastream. The buzz (for longer than the qualified use of the term) is that they will announce a partnership with a major brand name and go through the roof. They appear to have done well already in Europe where DIY soda is not so, uh , foreign. It is a very competitive market.

  3. nightfly says:

    It’s not hard to see why Keurig has gone this route. With printers, it’s the ink that’s the moneymaker – likewise, with the brewer it’s the coffee that one has to keep buying. If one is able to buy one’s own beans, grind them to spec in single-cup portions, and use a reusable third-party filter to brew their favorite cup of coffee, then Keurig isn’t getting a piece of the action on it, and that gives them the sads in their little Oxmyx hearts.

    It would seem that the solution is some sort of copyright protection and official licensing; or failing that, to make one’s own K-cups and reusable filters and such. What Keurig is doing instead seems to be kind of a technological substitute, setting up a racket rather than competing fairly in the market that has sprung up around their excellent invention. I’m not keen on that, and the Ladybug and I have refused to upgrade from our original model Keurig for precisely this reason.

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