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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is Your Coffee Windows AND Mac Compatible??

I was looking at the latest Bed Bath and Beyond mailer, BB and B is one of my favorite stores.  Scented candles, warm blankets, kitchen gadgets and coffee all in one place; what’s not to Nani-love? I was drawn to the front cover right away because it had…a coffee maker!

The CBTL, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, brewer is a new single-cup brewer, like Tassimo and Keurig, and like Tassimo and Keurig, it takes a different single cup package to make a cup of coffee. First off, I think it’s a little late to join this game. Second, perhaps you saw my Tweet this morning directed to all three companies involved. Someone’s gonna win and at least one someone is gonna die!

History shows this sort of thing. It doesn’t matter which coffee brewer is better, it really isn’t a question of quality, it’s marketing and price. Look at JVC’s VHS and Sony’s Betamax videotape in the 1970’s. Betamax was the better quality home video system, but marketing and cheaper pricing eventually drove Sony out of the home video market at that time and VHS became the standard in homes everywhere.

In the 1980’s the war was for home computer superiority. Which system would reside on your desk at work, at home? Of course what need was there for a computer at home, to make you work after work? Only a true geek would want a “home computer,” so it really was a fight over business. I love the end of The Pirates of Silicon Valley where Steve Jobs insists that the Apple platform is better than Microsoft and Bill Gates tells him he just doesn’t get it, that it doesn’t matter.

And it’s true that it doesn’t matter. Sony already worked with professional media businesses and had a reputation to protect; they weren’t going to back down on their quality. Steve Jobs had a reputation to build. Sony went back to where they were already established and VHS became the videocassettes in everyone’s homes. While Microsoft became a computer giant, Apple kept plugging on teetering on the brink of ultimate failure for years before things finally broke out for the company with all those “little i” gadgets. Ultimately some win, some lose and some work harder to find something else.

So the single-cup coffee wars will go. Keurig has a new maker out now called the Keurig Vue. It has more settings for customizing a cup of coffee for each coffee drinker. What I find just horrible about the Keurig Vue is that it does not use the standard K-Cup. It has a completely different cup that isn’t compatible. You couldn’t use a Betamax cassette in a VHS player and people had the less expensive VHS player, Betamax was a doomed format! It took years of people making the “easy choice” for a home computer because the work machines ran Microsoft programs and an Apple wouldn’t. There are adapters to fix that problem now, software that is compatible for both and thanks to USB, you don’t have to read the box to figure out if it’s a MAC or PC printer.

Tassimo brewers brew with liquid milks and make 8 different styles of drinks. I’ve never tried a Tassimo brewer, so I can’t give you a comparison to my Keurig Elite. I chose Keurig because I’d have told you it was another VHS/Beta war and while Tassimo was marketing its quality, the less expensive Keurig was touting convenience. Tassimo is possibly better, but I felt more secure with Keurig.

Bed Bath and Beyond doesn’t even carry the Tassimo brewers anymore, but the brewers sold on Tassino's website have come way down in price. That’s actually not a good sign for Tassimo! The Keurig Vue is a good $100 more expensive than a regular brewer and the, new kid, CBTL brewers sell for more than my Keurig Elite, but comparable to the average of the regular Keurig brewers prices. The CBTL brewers do make frothy espresso, with a drip base that moves up and down to prevent splashing for a smaller cup. Personally, that’s one more moving part to wear out and I’ve never been too put-out swiping a sponge across the back of my Keurig maker.  Starbucks is planning to come out with their own single-cup brewer this year too with yet another style of packaging to use in it.

How many single-cup brewers will there be, all with their own special coffee packaging? More important, which ones will die in the saturated market? That’s important because if you buy the wrong brand, you may end up with a coffee brewer that you can’t find coffee for! For me, I’m sticking with my Keurig Elite until it dies. Hopefully there will be some standardization or at least a strong indicator of which ones will fail by the time I'd need to replace it.  If there's not, it may be a better financial choice to go back to a full-size pot coffee maker until the single cup brewer companies settle who will live and who will die.  

Honestly, I hope the Keurig Vue is one of the failures. When a computer’s Operating System is upgraded, the new software may not work on the older version of the OS, but the old software still works on the new system. Would you upgrade if you have to replace all of your software? When audio CDs came out, I upgraded to a stereo that would play the new CDS as well as my vinyl records and cassettes. With the Keurig Vue, it’s pitch the K-Cups and buy all new. Bad design!

I think ultimately the standard Keurig will survive. Cuisinart had the better idea making a single serve brewer that uses K-Cups. I want the regular Keurig to survive because I want Cuisinart to survive because they’re smart. Ultimately Steve Jobs rose to the top because he was tenacious and smart. I like seeing smart win.


Jennifer said...

I love this post! And you are so right, they can't all survive. I do hope that Keurig wins in the end as well because that's what I've got! I'd hate to not be able to find coffee for it anymore, though I do have the reusable cups you can put your own brew in to. I guess I'd just have to stock up on those!! Ok, getting back to the school work!

Debbie said...

steve was a genius!! i am not a coffe drinker, i bought the keurig to make hot chocolate and we didn't like it. maybe the ice tea will be better!!

i hope you are feeling well!!