K-Cup Cops: License and Registration Please

Capsule coffee crimes continue to keep Keurig paid

Today the internet is buzzing with the news that the insanely popular Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) Keurig K-Cup brewers are about to get even more insane with an upcoming Keurig 2.0. What coffee innovations this new brewer will bring are still unclear – from their entry level machines (priced at $69 at my local Target) on up to their more elite models at over $200, there isn’t much under the hood beyond a reservoir, a heating element and small pump that forces hot water through a needle into the capsules. Fundamentally there is nothing too special mechanically about these machines, unless you count never having to gaze upon spent coffee grounds.

But one feature of the upcoming devices was revealed on a recent GMCR earnings call: a new DRM-style system that will prevent unauthorized third-party coffee capsules from working in the machines. A bit of actual high tech in what is really a rather low tech device, designed to further lock consumers into keeping the money flowing to GMCR.

The popularity of capsule coffee systems like K-Cups and Nespresso is a marketing marvel. GMCR estimates that around 13% of all U.S. households have one of their devices. But the real money comes from not from the razors but the blades. Ounce for ounce, consumers are generally paying anywhere from $35 - 60 a pound for the ground coffee inside these capsules. Lock-in is lucrative.

In a world of increasing surveillance, where governments want to snoop on our snapchats, police car cameras record every passing license plate, and both Ceiling Cat and Santa Claus are watching us in our more intimate moments, maybe it isn’t a stretch to have a coffee brewer built to rat us out for using black market blends?

Our advice of course is to download a DRM-free Tonx subscription and brew better beans on whatever platform you choose, using the open source method you most enjoy. Real, honest, fresh roasted coffee doesn’t have to be a chore. We’re happy to help you steer clear of controlling corporations and crappy contraptions. And we make it easy to pause or cancel anytime without hassle.