drmI have made no secret in the past about my hatred of DRM. Well, now the sour taste it leaves in my mouth is literal and not just figurative. With the death, early Monday morning, of the Keurig machine which came with the Beloved, we had to go out and get a new one. And all of the new Keurig machines for sale are the ‘2.0’ variety with the coffee DRM.

The DRM is both simple in theory: the machine has an infrared camera built in which detects a logo on the lid of the pod. If it can’t find one, it won’t make you the coffee. Of course, the relative simplicity of the scheme makes the DRM—like all forms of DRM—easy to circumvent. Just cut the lid off a used, but approved, pod and tape it onto the non-approved pod you want to use, and voila, the machine will happily spew out your drink.

The Beloved asked me, as I fumed the whole way home on the stupidity of this, why it bothers me so much. All off the coffee we happened to have at home, except for one lone iced tea sample, had the special logo after all. All of our coffee will brew, and one year post-release, the old non-compatible pods will all be gone from the store shelves by now. They will only be selling coffee we can buy. So, yes, it’s annoying. But why is it offensive?

I found my answer in most recent Netflix find, a charming documentary about a woman whose family was premised on a secret none of them would admit. What she found galling about the whole experience, once the truth was revealed to her, was the deceptiveness of the whole thing. Even when confronted with fairly direct evidence, her many friends and family continue to hide behind excuses and justifications.

I feel the same way about DRM, in a way. It’s the deceptiveness of the whole thing which galls me. It is so obvious what is going on here. Keurig did this because they make more money when you buy their coffee over somebody else’s. It’s vendor lock-in, pure and simple. So to have their CEO blather on to the press about how the DRM is needed for ‘performance’ and ‘safety’ reasons just makes me mad. It’s not vendor lock-in, Keurig just really wants to altruistically protect me from inferior coffee? Come on.

And this article where they blamed the problem on ‘consumer education’? Check this out:

“Kelley argues that the issue has been one of consumer education, blaming “consumer confusion around pod compatibility which we’ve mentioned in the past”. Once consumers learn about the wide range of licensed coffee available, Kelley says he is sure sales will pick up.”

So, what he’s saying is that it isn’t ‘we have made an inferior product,’ it’s ‘you’re not smart enough to understand?’ Are you serious, Keurig? You’re dictating what kind of coffee I can brew in the machine I bought and paid for, and when I complain, you’re calling me stupid? Let’s get real and call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do at all with my health and safety and convenience. If they would just admit it, I’d still be annoyed. But I would be a lot less offended.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Have you seen this? http://techcrunch.com/2015/05/08/keurig-ceo-blames-coffee-pod-drm-for-falling-sales/ Keurig is supposedly working on reversing their position on DRM.

    I buy my coffee from https://www.gourmet-coffee.com/home.php (actually Subscribe & Save from Amazon) and while I don’t have a 2.0 brewer, Rogers now has what they call the “Freedom Ring” built into the pods so they will work in the 2.0 brewers. I also like that they’re trying to get to 100% biodegradeable packaging. It’s wonderful that I don’t waste nearly so much coffee but now I feel better in that I’m not transferring that into more waste for the landfill.

  2. Three things about DRM really torque me off:

    1. We are charged fairly high (in comparison to print) prices for a *very* limited use right for our digital books.

    2. DRM has the user unfriendly and effective goal of locking us into one proprietary platform which seriously limits our range of choice.

    3. We have to take it on faith that our platform of choice will still be around AND honor our use rights in the future (and we all know the diminishing returns of faith in the world today.)

  3. “Are you serious, Keurig? You’re dictating what kind of coffee I can brew in the machine I bought and paid for, and when I complain, you’re calling me stupid?”

    While I certainly agree with what you said and with the sentiments behind your words you have to give Keurig a little credit. You did buy it. I’ve read enough of your blogs to know you aren’t a stupid person, but I can see why Keurig might think you are. 🙂

    Why not get one of the competing machines that don’t have this limitation and cost less and, according to the reviews, work just as well.

    I watched an old episode of “Cheers” the other day and someone told Coach if he believed what someone else said he has a nice piece of Arizona ocean front property he’d like to discuss with him. Coach’s reply was “Oh, you have one too? Where is it? We might be neighbors!”. I’m not sure why your blog today made me think of that but it did. Thanks for the smile. 🙂


  4. Barry, part of the issue was that, as several articles on this subject point out, many people buy their coffee in bulk. We had a little Costco trip with my mother about two weeks ago where we bought 100 coffees 🙂

    Chris, the movie was called ‘Little White Lie’ and I recommend it. I did not give the title because I did not want people to think I was equating my coffee problem to the struggles the woman in this movie had, but merely that it was her primary point (that it was the deception, not the fact itself) that was so difficult to wrap her head around.

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