Last year around this time, I made a post about how Green Mountain Coffee — the folks who make those wasteful Keurig single-cup coffee brewers — would be adding a digital rights management (DRM) scheme to their product to keep consumers from using third-party, unauthorized pods. They claimed that it was all about quality control and safety. And that, as TechDirt reported at the time, it would add interactive-enabled benefits (whatever that means).
In reality, the issue seems to have been that their overpriced pods weren’t selling as well as those of competitors, and they wanted a way to keep other companies from stealing the goodies from their playground.
So how did it go? Well Green Mountain did what they said; the Keurig 2.0 did indeed contain a digital lock; and that lock … was pretty much immediately broken. From that same TechDirt article:
It appears that Keurig competitors have already figured out ways to crack the DRM. TreeHouse Foods very quickly announced that it would be able to break the DRM. Meanwhile, Mother Parkers’ RealCup has just announced that its pods are compatible with Keurig’s DRM. It’s a little unclear from the press release if Mother Parkers cracked the DRM or came to a deal with Green Mountain, though it sure sounds like it was internal work.
That was back in August of 2014. Fast forward to the present, and there’s this: KeurigHack.com. There you can find this nifty two-and-a-half minute video that will show you how to defeat the Keurig DRM yourself. Permanently. With one existing pod, plus one piece of Scotch tape.
I still don’t recommend Keurig machines. They are costly, wasteful, and make coffee that, to my taste at least, has a plastic quality that is more than a little off-putting. According to Maddie Oatman of Mother Jones Magazine, in 2013, Green Mountain produced 8.3 billion K-Cups, enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. They’re not easily recyclable. Which means that billions of these things end up in landfills each year, trapping huge quantities of otherwise biodegradable coffee grounds, not to mention the plastic and foil, which are distinctly not biodegradable.
According to Oatman, a standard pod of Green Mountain coffee costs 68 cents, while one cup of the company’s Vermont Blend brewed the traditional way costs about 44 cents, filter included. So you’re paying more, in the end, for the privilege of drinking a lesser coffee that is far more damaging to the environment. And in doing so, you’re supporting a company that wants to keep you as a customer not by selling you something delicious, but by making sure that other companies cannot legally compete.
But if for whatever reason, you’re going to stick with your Keurig, you might at least watch the video.