When we last checked in with Keurig, the coffee machine maker had just turned itself into a big, fat target for copyright reform activists. The problem: Keurigs’s promise to make its 2.0 machines incompatible with any single-serving coffee pods it hadn’t licensed. Critics compared the approach to the DRM restrictions that hobble the sharing of digital music.
And as with DRM, it now appears that Keurigs have been hacked.
Not that getting the Keurig 2.0 to brew non-compliant coffee pods seems to have required the same kind of technical savvy required to reverse-engineer digital copyright protections. Instead, according to Keurighack.com, it takes one piece of tape and “not much aim.” (And maybe some scissors.)
In a video accompanied by Darth Vader’s theme music, an anonymous hacker snips a small section of the lid from a Keurig “K-cup” and tapes it over the lid over what the video calls a “rebel” pod. The strip seems to fool the machine into thinking the cup inside is a member of the Keurig “empire.”
Alternately, the video suggests attaching the strip to the machine itself to permanently fool it. “Just tape it in there, up in the left: over the open rectangular space.” (We’ve reached out to Keurig Green Mountain to get their take on whether such a hack is possible—and whether it voids the warranty.)
If Keurigs are so easy to spoof (a bunch of other people have figured this out), why would its makers bother with coffee DRM at all, especially considering the barrage of negative publicity and more than a dozen lawsuits the protections have prompted? Think of it as the inkjet printer business model applied to coffee: The money isn’t in the printer. It’s in the ink.