So everyone has now had a few days to go ahead and digest Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' introduction of it's Keurig 2.0 technology (only a few days after announcing a proposed name change to Keurig Green Mountain).
So on the surface, here's what we learned this week:
- Keurig 2.0 will be rolled out this coming Fall
- Keurig 2.0 will be able to make a 28-ounce pot of coffee
- Keurig 2.0 will be awesome
Now all is well and good, we've seen this before, right? We've seen Jenny Garth on late-night television introducing us to Keurig's revolutionary Vue technology and it's bigger, stronger, hotter cup of coffee - "the ultimate brewing experience." So we've seen the Vue, we've seen the future, we've seen the clumsily designed (but patented protected), number 5 recyclable plastic (but not recyclable in half of the U.S.) Vue Cups - how much different can Keurig 2.0 really be?
The answer is simple - very different.
Let's start at the top, in my opinion, if Brian Kelly were GMCR CEO at the time the Keurig Vue was released, it never would have seen the light of day. Kelly sees the bigger picture. The Vue was a knee-jerk reaction to failed lawsuits to fight expiring patents - Keurig 2.0 is not this at all.
Keurig 2.0 is a well thought out plan for Keurig Kitchen Countertop Domination. Let's start with the low-hanging fruit, Keurig 2.0 will only use Keurig Authorized K-Cup Packs (and theoretically Vue Packs if they don't find a way to make them go away by then), so it's just like the "good" old days in the single-cup world; you're either with Keurig, or your coffee isn't made in a Keurig Brewer. I have spoken with some coffee industry people, but not GMCR employees, who have told me how this technology will work, but without all of the facts, I will save that post for another day.
The second brilliant part of Keurig 2.0 is the K-Carafe. On the surface, this is just a cool feature that allows you to brew a small pot of coffee; maybe only getting used when company is over. Okay, so I guess there is no need to have a second coffee maker that brews a pot of coffee for guests. So now that Keurig 2.0 has kicked your Mr. Coffee to the curb, what in the world will you do with all of that extra counter space? Maybe that's a great place for a new Keurig Cold Brewer - makes perfect sense, right? Step two in Keurig's plan to own your counter top.
Now that Keurig has a cold brewer won't they be just like SodaStream, a seltzer maker with a few second-tier brands touting carbonated lemonade and carbonated sugary kids' drinks as things we really desire in the United States? Maybe not, when you look GMCR President and CEO, Brian Kelly's professional background (or at least where he was most recently before heading to GMCR), you have to think there could be an ace up his sleeve (just a guess).
So last but not least, what about all of those brands that you've become a custom to being able to brew using your Keurig Brewer, they won't work. My thought is, they'll be back, they'll all be back. A few years back, when we launched our at-home K-Cup site, Shoffee.com, we built it around one product - Coffee People Donut Shop (now The Original Donut Shop). Coffee People was brand owned by Diedrich Coffee, which paid a small royalty everytime they produced a K-Cup Pack for use with a Keurig Brewer. As the single-cup business grew, GMCR bought up all of the roasters making K-Cup packs one by one, and the royalty system went away. With it's patent-protected technology in place, Green Mountain was the only K-Cup game in town. Rumors swirled about GMCR acquiring companies like Peet's coffee, and Starbucks merger rumors became the norm; but you know what GMCR realized, that royalty revenue stream was not such a bad thing after all. I believe as Keurig 2.0 starts to get closer to becoming a reality, you will see GMCR's pay-to-play system once again; and alas, the knockoff K-Cups you've come to love will end up working in your Keurig 2.0 brewer afterall.
All of that being said, we are extremely excited about all of the positive changes coming out of Keurig and GMCR's New England Headquarters; and look forward to experiencing Keurig 2.0 first hand in the near future.
Last, but not least, we'd like to say that under some circumstances, one company trying to dominate either your countertop or your at-home beverage selection might be looked at as a bad thing; but with a company as innovative as Keurig, the change is welcome. It is not a stretch to say that in the past 10 years, what Keurig has done for coffee is not unlike what Apple has done for music - they changed the game, and at the end of the day, the game is better for it.
Full disclosure: Joe Simonovich co-founder of Shoffee.com, an internet retailer specializing in Keurig K-Cup Pack sales. This article is simply based on my thoughts on GMCR's Keurig 2.0 announcement, and articles posted publicly in the days after. I have absolutely no knowledge of the future dealings of Keurig, GMCR or any of the other brands mentioned in the post.