By David Goldman
NEW YORK (CNNMoney – Feb. 3, 2015) — An “unauthorized” K-cup maker is giving away a tiny plastic device that you can snap into your Keurig machine to let it brew off-brand coffee.
After subscribing to its newsletter, the Rogers Family Co. will send you a “Freedom Clip.” The gadget fits into a hole in the top of the coffee maker. Once secured in place, it will trick your Keurig machine into thinking that any K-cup is authorized.
Keurig Green Mountain only allows its new Keurig 2.0 machines to brew coffee from coffee brands that are licensed to use K-cups. Keurig mandates that its licensed K-cups come equipped with specific color frequencies in the ink on their rims. Without the correct signal, Keurig 2.0 machines won’t brew coffee.
“We at Rogers Family Co. believe that your right to choose any option is imperative,” the company said on its website. “This clip is our gift to you. Now go forth and brew with freedom.”
After ordering the Freedom Clip, the Rogers Family Co. will send you an email saying, “Today you took a stand against a monopoly and took your freedom to brew back.”
All that lofty language about freedom is for a reason: Rogers Family has sued Keurig Green Mountain, accusing the company of violating its monopoly power by forcing it to enter into exclusive K-cup agreements.
Keurig’s restrictions are controversial, and the subject of more than a dozen lawsuits. Customers have complained that licensed K-cup coffee costs upwards of $50 a pound. In November, Keurig Green Mountain hiked prices by 9% for the K-Cup packets used in its signature brewing system, as well as other single serve packets, bulk coffee and other products.
A spokesman from Keurig Green Mountain was not immediately available for comment. In the past, the company has disputed the notion that it doesn’t offer choice, noting that more than 400 different beverages from 60 brands are authorized for the Keurig 2.0 system.
The Freedom Clip is somewhat more elegant solution than the hack that a group of coffee lovers posted to KeurigHack.com in December.
The group showed that if you placing a lid of a licensed K-Cup on top of the lid of an unlicensed cup, it will fool a Keurig 2.0 machine into brewing your off-brand coffee. You can also tape a portion of a licensed lid to the machine’s reader.
Demand for the Freedom Clips has been high, so they are currently on back order. They are expected to ship in two to three weeks. Rogers Family Co. will also send 10,000 Freedom Clip customers a three-count box of its San Francisco Bay OneCup K-cups.