NEW YORK CITY -- Keurig Green Mountain unveiled its next-generation home brewer to the press corps on June 24 at the tony Dia 545 art gallery in Chelsea. Set to hit the market in September, Keurig 2.0 will be the first in the line to brew from the same machine either a single cup, using a K-Cup, or a whole 28-fl.oz. pot, using the new K-Carafe pack. The next-generation brewer also possesses "interactive readability," which identifies the type of pack inserted to ensure optimal brewing, making it compatible only with pods made by the company.
KGM chief executive Brian Kelley welcomed the dozens of press members attending the event to experience the new brewer "live and in person" by visiting a series of interactive stations.
photo | FIRST LOOK: KGM chief executive Brian Kelley (l.) and senior vice-president of hot systems Dave Manly welcome press members to explore new Keurig 2.0 brewer at NYC launch event.
Ian Tinkler, vice-president of brewer engineering at Keurig, was on hand to provide an overview of the inner workings of the new brewer. Most notable is the machine's ability to accommodate both K-cups and new carafe packs and differentiate between them.
When the customer inserts either portion pack, the machine senses whether it is a K-Cup or K-Carafe and displays the corresponding menu on the touchscreen display. From there, the user can specify the size and strength of the drink. The machine also features a "hot cocoa" setting that, when selected, activates an air pump that "fluffs up" chocolate and other soluble products during the brew process.
Tinkler said the process through which the brewer identifies the portion-packs is enabled by a proprietary ink imprinted on their lids. Without this ink, products that are not licensed through Keurig Green Mountain will not work in the machine.
Tom Novak, KGM's vice-president of beverage R&D, guided participants through a taste test, comparing and contrasting brew-over-ice beverages for the 2.0 brewer. Taste-testers rated the drinks using iPad stations running the same software used at KGM's consumer test center in Waterbury, VT. Green Mountain plans to take the 20 iPads on the road to conduct similar tastings with consumers at high-traffic venues like malls.
Guests at the launch event had the opportunity to explore the quality and nuances of several Keurig 2.0 coffees in a cupping session led by Lindsey Bolger, KGM's vice-president of coffee sourcing and excellence. Rounding out the event was the chance to take a virtual trip through the inside of a Keurig 2.0 brewer by sitting in a virtual-reality pod.
Keurig 2.0 will replace the company's current lineup of both K-Cup and Vue brewers within about a year of its launch. There's no word yet on plans for a commercial version.
NUTS AND BOLTS: Ian Tinkler describes features and inner workings that differentiate Keurig 2.0 from earlier models.
OPEN FOR SUGGESTIONS: Keurig Green Mountain R&D experts enlist press members to taste test iced tea drinks for the Keurig 2.0 system.
HIGH STANDARDS: Coffee quality expert Lindsey Bolger leads media members through cupping of coffees made using Keurig 2.0 brewer.
INSIDE LOOK: Virtual reality booths take visitors on simulated trip through new brewer.