As consumers make more of their own coffee creations at home, Keurig Dr Pepper is hoping its latest machine will keep the caffeine buzz going for the popular brewing system.
The company said its new K-Café Smart machine will allow the Keurig brand to better replicate the coffeehouse experience by giving people additional drink options and convenience at the push of a button.
“Just having a black cup of coffee out of a pod is just not enough for consumers today,” said Annie Oh, vice president of Keurig Experiences with Keurig Dr Pepper. “They want a bigger, broader experience and they're going to coffee shops to get it but now we're offering it through Keurig.”
The black and silver K-Café Smart, which is now available online for $249.99 and will debut in retailers this fall, is the company’s biggest step yet in increasing consumption among existing Keurig users and drawing new consumers to the platform.
K-Café Smart has a technology called BrewID that detects the K-Cup pod in the brewer. Through a corresponding mobile app, the consumer can then review different drink recipes best suited for that pod. A Cafe Bustelo selection, for example, suggests iced coffee, cafe con leche, Mexican coffee and cafe mocha as possible choices.
The brewer connects to the app to enable features like Barista mode and Cafe Creations.
The Barista mode provides a step-by-step, guided process with visual demonstrations for crafting coffeehouse beverages at home like a caramel cookie cappuccino or cinnamon macchiato. It tells the user which type of coffee pods work best, then offers step-by-step instructions on how to add in the remaining ingredients.
Cafe Creations, meanwhile, has more than 70 drink recipes to choose from, most of which can be made in three minutes or less. The app also provides detailed descriptions that define each type of drink to the consumer to prevent confusion.
“We know coffee is personal, everyone like it in a different way,” Oh said. “But they also need some of those guided experiences, which we’re trying to help them with. [K-Café Smart] takes that intimidation factor out so you can now make a similar type of beverage at home for a fraction of the cost.”
The machine comes with other improvements. It improves the flavor and aroma of the coffee using five streams of water instead of one concentrated stream to thoroughly saturate the coffee grounds more evenly throughout the pod. The water level also can be adjusted to change the flow speed: faster for a lighter cup of coffee, for example, and slower for one that is concentrated.
Finally, the machine has an upgraded frother with three speeds, and options to make a hot or cold drink, or work with different types of milk, including plant based.
Keurig currently has roughly 36 million households using its coffee brewing system, with the company targeting the addition of about 2 million new homes each year, Bob Gamgort, Keurig Dr Pepper’s recently retired CEO, said in July. Gamgort estimated there are more than 50 million new households Keurig could target.
Keurig remains a lucrative source of revenue for Keurig Dr Pepper.
In 2021, net sales in its coffee systems business rose 6.4% to $4.72 billion — amounting to about 37% of Keurig Dr Pepper’s overall sales. Keurig benefited from strong growth in its at-home business that spurred demand for its iconic pods, while the brewing system itself was buoyed by innovation and marketing to increase household penetration.