The Keurig 2.0 is a brewing system that features K Cup pod scanning technology. It restricts usage to Keurig licensed pods, but it also automates functionality to control brew temperature and brew size for extra large mug sized single serve pods or 4 cup carafe pods – as well as brewing a better cup of coffee.
The long answer…
Why the Keurig 2.0 system came to be
The growing popularity of Keurig and other pod based coffee machines has led to the rise of many producers of unlicensed K Cup pods. Licensing, however, has not really been an issue of since the K Cup patent ran out in earlier years.
More and more companies are now selling what has become the standard for coffee pods – the K Cup pod.
The end of the patent on the K Cup in September of 2012 and the growing market of non Keurig produced K Cup pods caused concern for Keurig and their business model going forward. So, in the fall of 2014, Keurig debuted their Keurig 2.0 brewing system.
This system featured pod label scanning technology. They featured this technology on all of their new models and all new K Cups being made by or licensed by Keurig.
2.0 brewing technology described
The technology behind the Keurig 2.0 system was quite different from the standard Keurig models of before.
It was designed to do a couple of jobs and it all starts with scanning the lid of the K Cup pod. One of the jobs was to make a better cup of coffee.
It was described this way by an official Keurig statement…
“In order for us to deliver the best experience within our most advanced system to date, Keurig 2.0 features smart technology that reads the pack (pod) lid and recognizes the type of beverage pack (pod) that has been inserted. This technology offers distinct consumer benefits of automatic adjustment of brew temperature and size control depending on if a K-Cup pack (pod) or K-Carafe pack (pod) is inserted, which ensures a quality brewing experience and allows for the same one-touch simplicity consumers love about Keurig. Every K-Cup pack (pod) beverage option and brand that was available for previous Keurig brewers — and many new additions — is available for the new Keurig 2.0 system.”
Yes, the 2.0 system will read the pod lid and automatically determine the amount of water needed for brewing and automatically determine the correct temperature of the water for brewing. This applied for larger sizes of pods like the K Carafe pod or the larger pods for mugs. But, it also applied to the regular size K Cup pods as well, each having its’ own brew temperature and possibly brew size.
The other, not so publicized job of the 2.0 brewing system was to determine if the K Cup was licensed by Keurig. This incorporated the use of Digital Rights Management computer chips to read the infrared printing on the pod lid and then allow the unit to continue with brewing.
If the pod did not have the proper licensing requirements imprinted on the label, then the unit would not function. And in fact, early Keurig models featuring the 2.0 system will not function at all if non 2.0 K Cup pods are placed in the unit.
Problems with 2.0 system
As Keurig was claiming their new K-Cup system would result in a better cup of coffee, some customers became frustrated. The Keurig 2.0 frustrated customers by rejecting third-party coffee, older K-cups, or reusable pods.
On the Keurig website, Keurig answers this question this way…
“Do I need to buy special pods for Keurig® Plus Series / Keurig® 2.0 brewers?
In order to deliver the perfect cup, mug, or carafe every time, your Keurig® Plus Series or Keurig® 2.0 brewer must recognize the K-Cup®, Vue®, K-Mug® or K-Carafe® pod that has been inserted. Therefore, Keurig® cannot guarantee that pods not recognized by the brewer will work. Look for the Keurig® logo on your favorite pod varieties to ensure a delicious cup every time. However, our My K-Cup® Reusable Coffee Filter accessory is available for purchase separately, and gives you the flexibility to brew the ground coffee of your choice.”
Many customers saw it as a scheme to force the use of expensive Keurig K Cups and make more money for Keurig. Also, customers didn’t appreciate being limited on the varieties of the coffee or tea they can use.
Also unusable were the re-usable My K Cup also produced by Keurig in earlier years because they had not made a re-usable K Cup that had the printing for licensing on it – nor was it clear they intended to. After all, having a re-usable K Cup meant that Keurig owners could elect any brand of coffee they could put into the re-usable pod.
The biggest immediate negative reaction to the 2.0 system was by users of the Keurig My K Cup. Keurig soon relented by producing a re-usable My K Cup that worked in the 2.0 models.
Keurig tried to put off concerns of consumers relating to the strict enforcement of non licensed K Cups by promoting the 2.0 system as a better cup of coffee with smart brewing technology. They also made attempts to exchange older K Cups for new 2.0 K Cups for those customers who had older K Cups that would not work in the new models.
And then the lawsuits started. Many cases dealt with anti-trust issues while other cases were about overzealous patent infringement suits brought by Keurig surrounding the 2.0 issue.
Which Keurig 2.0 models do not allow unlicensed K Cups?
Here is a list of models – that we know of – that had the 2.0 brewing system that did not allow unlicensed K Cup pods and made by Keurig:
K200, K250, K300, K350, K400, K425, K450, K475, K525, K525C, K545, K550, K575
Workarounds for the older 2.0 models
Here are the hacks to get around the bad part of the 2.0 system, the restrictive pods part.
Official Ring Hack for 2.0
One of the simplest solutions is peeling the lid from a used 2.0 licensed K Cup pod and then cutting out the inner circle. This will leave the outer ring of the lid. Take the ring and place it on top of a non 2.0 unofficial pod. The scanner will then read the pasted on “official” ring and then function – but keep in mind that it may function for brew temperature and size for the pasted on lid type of coffee pod.
Some have even discovered ways to fix on the official ring to the machine itself so that it stays on all the time.
Magnet Hack for 2.0
There is also a magnet hack for the 2.0 that worked on some models. This involves taking a small magnet and placing it inside the unit near where the pod is placed.
Once the magnet is placed, it will allow any pod or no pod to be used and…. It will also give you access to a unique menu system in the Keurig! Very cool.
You can check out the magnet hack in this video….
There were some hacks that involved products you could buy. However, most of those were challenged in court by Keurig. If you can find any of these product hacks, they may work for you.
Like a couple of competing K Cup pod makers came up with pods that would work with the Keurig 2.0. Another was the Freedom Clip, which allowed the Keurig 2.0 models to allow any type of pod.
Where the 2.0 brewing system stands
When Keurig began to suffer on its’ bottom line, they started to change their tune about the 2.0 brewing system and shutting out unlicensed K Cup pods.
The most current Keurig models on their website [May 2019] do not feature the 2.0 technology and brewing system, but some models do utilize it. Some advanced models do still have the technology, but it seems only for allowing automatic brew temperature and size.
All models now allow for any K Cup, both the Keurig licensed K Cups with the 2.0 labels and the older (1.0) or off-brand K Cups.
The Keurig 2.0 brewing system was and is really an non event. It did not prevent the sale and use of unlicensed K Cups. Nor did it do anything outstanding for the quality of single serve coffee brewing (although some reviewers do express that the coffee tastes better with 2.0).
The end result was that you can use any K Cup pod in any Keurig machine – whether the model allows it or if you need to use a hack.
There are still a few 2.0 models out there for sale online that that do not allow unlicensed pods. And some of those models are very nice working units.
If you do end up with one of those, the simplest hack is probably the best. Or you can just buy the Keurig licensed pods.
And again, if you are buying the latest Keurig model, you don’t need to worry about what K Cup pods you buy or use.