Business

Home-brew your coffee and your booze: Keurig at work on single-serve alcohol machine

Keurig, the maker of the ubiquitous single-cup coffee maker, is now working on an at-home booze machine. The plan is for it to serve up everything from single servings of beer and spirits to cocktails and mixers.

Device aims to serve up everything from beer to cocktails

Keurig hopes to win customers over with a new concept: a single-serve machine that provides cocktails and beer instead of coffee. (Pixabay.com)

Imagine popping a single-serve pod into your Keurig machine and — ta-dah! — out pours a martini.

The idea is not far-fetched. Keurig Green Mountain — the manufacturer of the popular single-cup coffee maker — is now working on an at-home booze machine.

If all goes according to plan, it would be like having a personal bartender in your home, offering everything from single servings of beer and spirits to cocktails and mixers.

For the project, U.S.-based Keurig has teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational beverage and brewing company.

"We can't wait to get started," says CEO of the joint venture, Nathaniel Davis, in a statement.

There's no word yet on how exactly the machine will work and if customers will have to buy boxes of beer or cocktail pods to make the system work. Keurig's coffee maker requires that customers insert a coffee-filled plastic pod to make one cup.

No word yet if Keurig's planned single-serve at-home booze machine will require plastic pods to brew drinks like cocktails. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For now, all that the partnering companies would reveal is that the alcohol drink machine will build on Keurig's Kold technology.

Keurig launched its Kold at-home soda-making machine in late 2015. It was a complete bust with consumers, and in less than a year it was yanked from the market.

When it debuted, Keurig Kold retailed for a whopping $369.99 US, more than double the price of most Keurig coffee makers. A pack of four Coke pods typically cost about $5 US — that's $1.25 per drink.

Critics claimed the machine was ridiculously expensive, slow and less convenient than opening a can of pop.

"As a consumer product, it's baffling," concluded the technology publication Wired in 2015.

Keurig Kold — a device that used flavour pods to serve up cold drinks — was a flop with customers. (Keurig Green Mountain)

"I thought that was a horrible strategy," consumer behaviour expert Robert Carter says about the Kold machine.

He believes an alcohol drink maker will also be a failure. Keurig's single-serve coffee system appeals to consumers because it's more convenient than brewing an entire pot, says Carter, who is with NPD Group in Toronto.

But he points out that people can already buy all sorts of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages — from craft beers to pre-mixed cocktails — and keep them handy in their fridge. 

"I don't think they're solving a problem that exists," says Carter. "They're just creating more work for something that's already convenient."

He believes Keurig is trying to expand its market share because sales of its coffee machines and pods have flat-lined in North America.

But Carter says a better strategy would be for the company to try to grow its hot drink offerings by adding more innovative products such as specialty coffees.

"Stick to what you know," he says.

Last year, SodaStream announced the Beer Bar, which combines sparkling water and a beer concentrate. (SodaStream)

Keurig isn't the only one trying to cash in on the at-home booze market.

Last year, SodaStream announced a new home beer system, the Beer Bar. According to the Israeli drinks company, the device "enables consumers to concoct crafted beer in seconds" by adding a light beer concentrate called Blondie to sparkling water.

Keurig was bought by the privately held Germany conglomerate JAB Holding in 2015, but is still based in Waterbury, Vt. At the time of the takeover, Keurig was suffering from slowing sales and its stock had fallen nearly 61 per cent since the beginning of the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris covers business and consumer news. Contact: sophia.harris@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now