Keurig KOLD home soda machine getting chilly reviews
Critics claim new single-serve drink maker is inconvenient and expensive
Keurig has gone cold with a soda-making machine for your home. But, unlike the company's popular single serve hot coffee maker, the Keurig KOLD is giving some reviewers the chills.
The KOLD drink maker, which will debut in Canada in the coming weeks, hit the U.S. market in late September.
The early media reviews have been dismal, with critics claiming the machine is ridiculously expensive, slow and less convenient than opening a can of pop.
"As a consumer product, it's baffling," concludes the technology publication Wired.
Keurig coffee sales cooling
U.S.-based Keurig Green Mountain dominates the North American single serve coffee market with its machines that brew hot beverages using plastic pods. But sales have grown tepid; the company reported a 27 per cent decline in earnings in the third quarter.
- Keurig stock dives after sales of pods, brewing machines fall
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"There's a little bit of a novelty wearing off," says consumer behavior expert Robert Carter, with The NPD Group in Toronto.
So Keurig introduced the KOLD to capture the growing cold beverage market. The machine uses individual flavour pods that, when inserted, deliver a single serving of anything from fizzy drinks like Coke and seltzers to iced tea.
"We're embarking on a new journey that will change the way consumers enjoy cold beverages at home," said Keurig CEO Brian Kelley in a statement.
But, according to some media reviews, this product may not be a game changer.
On the day it launched, Time magazine published an online article titled: "2 Simple Reasons You Shouldn't Buy the Coke-Making Keurig Kold Machine." The reasons: the prices of the appliance and the pods, which are sold separately.
A pack of four Coke pods costs $4.99 US. That's $1.25 per drink.
A pack of 12 Coke cans at a U.S. Walmart will run you $4.48 — that's 37 cents each. In other words, it will cost you an extra 88 cents for the privilege of making your own glass of Coke. And that doesn't factor in the massive price you pay for the machine.
The Keurig drinks are also smaller -- 4 oz. less than the 12 oz. in a Coke can.
The "staggeringly expensive" price tag was one of the factors that prompted technology review site CNET to give the machine two stars out of five.
"Stay away," advises reviewer Brian Bennett.
Bennett also criticized the machine for being "humongous" (it apparently weighs more than 10 kg), loud, and slow. It takes "about 90 seconds to produce one 8-ounce glass of soda," he stated.
Wired also criticized the wait time, concluding that during the 90 seconds, a person could have "grabbed a single can out of a fridge, opened it, and enjoyed its bubbly goodness."
Wired rated the machine four out of 10. Reviewer Brian Barrett pointed out that consumers warmed up to the Keurig coffee maker because it made brewing coffee easier. However, he says, "soda already comes in single-serve convenience."
Barrett did conclude the KOLD beverages tasted good — but no better than their canned or bottled counterparts.
When asked about the negative reviews, Keurig stated that "average" consumers have a different take. It says many KOLD customers have given the product high ratings on its company website and Amazon.
"It's clear that a large percentage of consumers who have tried it, really like the product," spokeswoman Cynthia Shanks said in an email to CBC News.
Online customer reviews are largely anonymous and sometime unreliable. At last check, the average KOLD rating on Amazon.com was 3.4 stars out of 5.
There were a number of four-star reviews, some talking about how the machine made a variety of drinks that tasted good, was easy to use and great for entertaining. But many of those reviewers still noted downsides, including the high price.
"It's sure different and positively your guests will enjoy this," noted "richard k" who got the product for free "in exchange for an unbiased review." But he also noted that "the cost of the pods are extremely high."
There were also a number of scathing reviews on Amazon, complaining about things such as the KOLD's large size, price, slowness and the apparent two hours it takes to warm up the machine.
"If you have lots of patience, lots of money to spend on machine/pods and don't care about polluting the environment, then this is the machine for you," wrote a reviewer who also took a jab at the disposable plastic pods.
"Bottom line, if you buy this, I feel sorry for you," concluded another person.
Keurig would not comment on KOLD sales. Carter with NPD says convenience is what sells so, in order for the KOLD to succeed, it can't be slow and inefficient.
"If this KOLD product is not convenient and it's more expensive [than pop], then that's a recipe for disaster," he says.