The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. In order to protect their dominant market share, Keurig makers Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been on a bit of an aggressive tear of late. As with computer printers, getting the device in the home is simply a gateway to where the real money is: refills. But Keurig has faced the “problem” in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.
Keurig’s solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What’s more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM – so that only Keurig’s own coffee pods can be used in it:"Green Mountain has announced a new anticompetitive plan to maintain its monopoly by redesigning its brewers to lock out competitorsâ€™ products. Such lock-out technology cannot be justified based on any purported consumer benefit, and Green Mountain itself has admitted that the lock-out technology is not essential for the new brewersâ€™ function. Like its exclusionary agreements, this lock-out technology is intended to serve anticompetitive and unlawful ends."The plan was confirmed by Keurig’s CEO who stated on a recent earnings call that the new maker indeed won’t work with “unlicensed” pods as part of an effort to deliver “game-changing performance.” “Keurig 2.0” is expected to launch this fall. French Press and pour-over manufacturers like Chemex have plenty of time to get their thank you notes to Keurig in the mail ahead of time as users are hopefully nudged toward the realization they could be drinking much better coffee anyway.