Do you have a Keurig 2.0? if you do, did you realize before you bought it that it has a DRM device that prevents you from using non-official K-Cup pods?
If you do own a Keurig 2.0, you have probably also heard that there are a number of simple hacks that can make it work with other manufacturers’ pods. Here we bring you a roundup of some of the best.
What’s a Keurig? A quick refresher
Keurig machines were the original single-use coffee machines. They were first created as an answer to the age-old problem of the office coffee pot that would sit all morning stewing and becoming unbearably bitter.
With the Keurig, office workers could simply pop a pod into the machine and were served a perfect, fresh brew every time – and stewed coffee was banished from the workplace forever (unless your boss was too miserly to buy one!)
They were originally pitched as an office solution, but such was their success that a home version was soon created. By 2013, around one in five American households owned a Keurig. Now it’s thought the figure is closer to one in three (1).
Their surprising success has not come without its challenges. The pods themselves are not biodegradable and are hard to recycle. Literally billions of them end up in landfill sites every year, prompting one media company to put together this excellently-produced protest video.
The new and improved Keurig 2.0 – with DRM
The original design of the single-use K-Cup pod was covered by patent, preventing other companies from cashing in on the machine’s success. However, this patent expired in 2012 and a whole slew of other products compatible with Keurig machines flooded the market, eating into Keurig’s profits.
As a response, the company released the new and “improved” Keurig 2.0 – with the major improvement being a DRM device that prevented users making coffee with non-genuine pods.
This was a slightly bizarre decision since it makes the Keurig 2.0 less attractive than rival generic machines as non-Keurig coffee makers accept pods from all manufacturers.
However, loyal customers who did splash out on a new Keurig 2.0 found themselves “locked in” to buying only official K-Cup products. They were penalized by being cut off from many other fantastic – and often cheaper – products made by rival companies.
That is until somebody worked out how to hack Keurig 2.0s. And here are a few of the best ways you can do it.
Related Post: Best Coffee Grinder for Keurig – Top 5 Picks
This is the very simplest solution to the Keurig 2.0 DRM problem. All you need to do is keep one genuine K-Cup pod after you’ve used it.
When you’ve made your K-pod coffee, remove the pod from the machine. Take a sharp knife and carefully detach the lid from the pod, taking care to keep all the edges intact.
Next time, when you try to use an unauthorized pod in your Keurig machine, you will see an error message that reads:
“Oops! This pack wasn’t designed for this brewer. Please try one of the hundreds of packs with the Keurig® logo”
The Keurig machine has perforated the pod you have placed inside but refuses to make your coffee because the DRM device has not detected a genuine Keurig K-Cup.
When you read this message, simply open up the machine, place the lid you have removed from the genuine K-Cup over the lid of the pod you wish to use and close the machine again.
You will see the error message has disappeared and your Keurig is ready to brew your coffee.
When you remove the pod for disposal, don’t forget to keep the lid and store it in a safe place for next time. In this way, you can continue using this method with any pods you like on your Keurig 2.0.
This is the easiest way to fool the machine. The only problem is that it is something of a pain to go through this procedure every time you want a coffee.
The whole point of using a pod-based machine is to make brewing coffee quick and easy. If you have to play around with the lid every time you want a drink, it kind of defeats the purpose.
Fortunately, there are other, more permanent solutions available.
For a more long-term solution, you will need the same tools, namely an empty K-Cup pod and a sharp knife, plus a piece of Scotch tape.
As described above, remove the lid from the pod using the knife. You don’t actually need the whole lid to fool the machine, just the small part that is scanned by the reader, so when you have removed the lid from the pod, just cut out the section required.
The goal is to tape this small piece of lid to the reader to fool the machine into thinking it is reading a genuine K-Cup pod every time.
To achieve this, you can simply place it over the reader judging by eye – you don’t need to be too accurate to fool the Keurig – or you can line it up using another pod as you make a cup of coffee.
If you do it by eye, you may have to adjust the position a few times. Once you have it in place and the machine begins accepting non-standard pods, simply make sure it is securely taped in place so that it won’t move.
From now on, your Keurig machine will accept any kind of non-standard pods.
If all this seems a little too abstract, check out this excellent video that explains it visually. We love the soundtrack they chose to back it!
This solution is more permanent, but it may seem a little “DIY” to some. After all, you’ve just spent a lot of money on a new Keurig 2.0 and now it has an old lid stuck in it with Scotch tape. Not very classy.
Fortunately, more elegant solutions available.
If you don’t want to do a DIY job with Scotch tape on your shiny new Keurig 2.0, you might consider using a “Freedom Clip”. This may cost you a few dollars but it’s a neater solution than sticking a cut up lid from an old K-Cup pod in your coffee machine.
Yes, someone somewhere actually came up with the idea of manufacturing and selling a clip that you fit inside your Keurig over the reader that has the same effect as the piece of cut up lid.
Once you install this clip in your machine, you will instantly unlock the entire world of “rebel K-Cups”, giving you a much wider selection of coffees, often at lower prices than official K-Cups.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of cash, this is one of the best options. Freedom clips are specially designed for Keurig 2.0 machines, they are simple to attach, don’t damage the machine, don’t void your warranty and permanently give access to a much wider coffee menu.
These clips can also unlock any drink size, including carafes.
Some companies that make rival pods have seen the potential here. Some manufacturers of rebel K-Cups actually include a version of these clips free with their products, so you don’t even need to buy them separately.
As we mentioned before, Keurig machines and especially the K-Cup pods they use have not been without controversy. As the world wakes up to the ongoing disaster of plastic pollution, the billions of pods that end up in landfills every year are a significant problem.
That’s why this fourth hack is not only a clever way to circumvent Keurig’s DRM device, it’s also a great way to help save the planet.
Keurig machines were the original single-use coffee makers but with the use of refillable K-Cups, you can kill two birds with one stone. Not only can you unlock the machine to accept any kind of coffee you choose, you can also help eliminate the mountains of plastic these machines generate annually.
You can pick up a pack of these reusable pods for pretty cheap and they’re also backwards-compatible with old Keurig machines too.
In fact, Keurig has even released its own branded version of reusable K-Cups, perhaps partly in response to the environmental backlash.
When you think about it, this probably doesn’t even qualify as a “hack”, it’s just a logical solution. The only issue we have here is that it seems a little perverse to buy a single-use coffee maker and then to use refillable pods. Why not just buy a regular coffee machine in the first place?
Anyway, if it can help people enjoy a wider range of coffee while reducing plastic waste, we’re definitely in favor.
This could be the simplest hack, but like the #1, it’s a bit of a fiddle and it’s not a great long-term solution – plus you need to spend money.
Basically, the DRM device works by reading the packs of genuine K-Cup pods before making the coffee. One simple solution is to buy a pack of Freedom Stickers that you put on every fake K-Cup before using it.
An easy solution, but not our favorite. You buy a Keurig for convenience – so you probably don’t want to have to be putting a sticker on each pod before you pop it into the machine. It could work as a handy stop-gap solution though.
A Brave New World of (rebel) coffee
So now you have the hacks, a Brave New World of coffee flavors and other products has been opened up to you. We bet you can’t wait to get out there and discover all the wonderful new flavors you’ve just unlocked!
Do you have a Keurig? Do you stick to official products or do you drink rebel coffee? Which are your favorite flavors? And which hack do you use? If you have anything you want to tell us, please leave us a comment, we always love hearing from you. And please don’t forget to give us a share!
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Ag Ferrari, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.