Salads, cookies, weed — you can make them as fast as a cup of coffee
In 1998, Keurig introduced a way to take a fairly simple task — brewing coffee at home — and make it even easier. The company’s single-serve coffee maker was a hit among individuals who didn’t want to take the time to dump grounds and water into a percolator or think in advance about how many cups of joe they might want to drink. Ever since then, established companies and start-ups alike have been trying to recapture the magic of making a ton of money off a device that is hardly necessary to own.
Here, now, are several prominent examples of the “Keurig of...” industry that have cropped up in recent years. They’re ranked in order of how much they actually operate like the Keurig itself.
The Keurig of... salad
Sally the Salad Robot is an adorably named salad vending machine, of sorts. It’s not for home use, but instead can be deployed in two sectors of the dystopian future: restaurants looking to cut labor costs (i.e., jobs) through automation, and in office environments where workers’ lunch breaks are just long enough to wolf down some mixed greens prepared quickly by a machine. Sally — does it feel better to replace humans with robots given human names? — comes with 21 ingredient canisters and can make more than 1,000 customizable recipes in less than a minute. It also features a credit card reader, which allows a restaurant to cut that cashier job, too.
Pricing: Sally might save labor costs and boost productivity over time, but it comes at a steep price up front: $30,000.
Is it really like a Keurig? This thing is heavy, weighing in at roughly 300 pounds, but ChowBotics, the company that created Sally, claims it fits on a 30-by-30-inch table. The robot may help to advance the trend of restaurants that operate completely human-free, but it isn’t meant to give home cooks a quick meal. And with prepackaged, preprocessed ingredients, Sally’s salads may be lacking in the taste department. Verdict: It’s not like a Keurig.
The Keurig of... cookies
Baking cookies from prepackaged dough is already pretty easy, but the CHiP Cookie Oven thinks it can make the job even easier. Tech-savvy bakers place four refrigerated dough pods onto a nonstick surface inside the oven, which sort of looks like a crock pot designed by Google, and close the lid. A corresponding smartphone app is used for programming the device, and four convection fans pump hot air for even baking. After 10 minutes, a push notification will alert users that their cookies are ready.
Pricing: The oven is available for preorder starting at $129. Packages are expected to begin shipping in October.
Is it really like a Keurig? CHiP raised nearly $123,000 in its Indiegogo campaign, but according to the campaign’s website, only 35 have been claimed, and prices have been cut by 48 percent. If the oven is receiving a lukewarm reception, it’s probably because this appears to be even more superfluous than many “Keurig of...” devices. A convection toaster oven can be had for about the same price, takes up about the same amount of space on the counter, and can do a lot more than just bake cookies.
The problem with attempting to make the cookie-baking process more convenient is that it’s pretty convenient as it is. It takes roughly 10 minutes to bake cookies. Sure, the Cookie Pod can be scheduled to bake in advance and automatically cools down to avoid burning, but home bakers aren’t likely to become distracted and forget about their snack after such a short amount of time. CHiP does allow users to text a “CookieGram” to friends once the baking process is finished, but bragging about the warm cookies one is about consume doesn’t seem like a nice gesture. Verdict: It’s not like a Keurig.
The Keurig of... cocktails
Despite the recent resurgence of cocktail culture, some people in Silicon Valley think discerning home-drinkers don’t want to mix up cocktails themselves. Enter Somabar, which is Wi-Fi enabled and smartphone-app controlled. The countertop device deploys six ingredient pods, and users can choose from 300 different recipes available on the app. The company raised more than $300,000 on Kickstarter back in 2014.
Pricing: Early-bird pricing was listed at $399, but the product isn’t available for purchase at the moment.
Is it really like a Keurig? Somabar doesn’t quite meet the efficiency requirements necessary to justify purchasing a product like this. Users fill up the pods themselves, and if a cold cocktail is desired — as it usually is — the liquids have to be prechilled. Somabar doesn’t have a shaking mechanism, so stirred is the only option. That’s good for a martini, but not so good for a frothy daiquiri. All in all, it might be a less-convenient, less-fun way to make cocktails. Verdict: It’s not like a Keurig.
The Keurig of... beer
Homebrewing hobbyists have been using beer kits to make IPAs for years, but Anheuser-Busch InBev wants drinkers to concoct their own macrobrews. In a bold move to conquer the “Keurig of…” market, the global beer Goliath has actually partnered with Keurig on the project. It’s early in the process, and there isn’t a prototype yet, but unnecessary-kitchen-item enthusiasts must be excited.
Pricing: There’s no word yet.
Is it really like a Keurig? The partnering companies will take the technology that was being used for the Keurig Kold device. Keurig Kold was supposed to be a competitor to in-home soft drink maker SodaStream, but it was eventually scrapped. Considering the Kold’s demise, this doesn’t sound promising. Verdict: Despite Keurig’s involvement, it sounds more like a SodaStream. It’s not like a Keurig.
The Keurig of... weed
Is this a high-end humidifier? No, it’s the CannaCloud, a tech-forward weed vaporizer that is guaranteed to get modernists totally baked in no time, man. CannaKorp, the company behind the product, raised $5.7 million in 2016, and perhaps the biggest boost to its “Keurig of…” reputation is chairman and chief executive officer Dave Manly, who used to be an executive at Keurig.
Pricing: The CannaCloud isn’t available yet, but it’s expected to run $150 to $175. The individual weed pods should be available for $6 or $7.
Is it really like a Keurig? “Pods are pre-ground cannabis flower that are sealed to lock in flavor, aroma and freshness that ensures a great experience every time,” according to CannaKorp’s website. That sounds like a Keurig. The device even looks a bit like a Keurig. Verdict: It’s like a Keurig, only with the exact opposite intended result.
The Keurig of... juice
Here is a prime example of how fragile the “Keurig of…” economy can be. In 2015, Silicon Valley darling Juicero raised $120 million in funding and promised to give health-conscious citizens of the future the best damn fruit and vegetable juices they would ever taste. Unfortunately for Juicero, it was recently discovered that the company’s very fancy, Wi-Fi-enabled juicer is not at all necessary to consume its much cheaper produce packets. Once that issue came to light, founder Doug Evans shut down the company and wandered off to Burning Man.
Pricing: The Juicero was originally listed at $700, then $400, and now it’s been pulled from the market. Evans’s company is issuing refunds to anyone who purchased a juicer or produce pack, which were available between $5 and $8.
Is this really like a Keurig? Ah, what could have been. A countertop device that’s more expensive than it should be and produces beverages in single servings would have been exactly like a Keurig. But, alas, it will be relegated as a footnote in the history of unnecessary technology born in the 21st century. Verdict: It would have been like a Keurig, but it no longer exists.
The Keurig of... tortillas
People love tacos, so it’s no surprise the Flatev saw massive support for its Kickstarter campaign. The company raised more than $136,000 from 662 backers to fund a countertop tortilla press. Flatev claims to have created a device that will produce “artisan” tortillas — good buzzword there — along with crepes and cookies. Users simply place the recyclable dough pods into the machine, turn a dial, press a button, and a few seconds later, a fresh tortilla (or crepe or cookie) pops out.
Pricing: The early-bird special, which includes a Flatev and 48 dough pods, puts it at $239.
Is it really like a Keurig? Making homemade tortillas isn’t really much of a chore, and buying some from the grocery store or ordering off Amazon is even easier. The Flatev is expensive, it uses recyclable pods, and it brings efficiency to a task that isn’t all that difficult to begin with. Verdict: It’s just like a Keurig!
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