Keurig debuted its newest machine, the Keurig Kold, this week.
Reviews for the $370 countertop soda machine are already starting to trickle in – and many of them are brutal.
Some customers are complaining that the machine is massive and takes up too much counter space, that it hums as loud as a “freight train,” and it can take up five hours to cool after being plugged in, as opposed to the two hours it advertises.
“This thing is an absolute monster,” one customer wrote on Keurig’s website. “I already struggle with counter space. It’s huge and very deep.”
Since the machine takes a long time to cool down, you have to keep it plugged in all the time – and on the counter – to use it regularly.
And while the machine is cooling after starting up, “it sounds like a freight train,” one customer wrote. “It was pretty annoying and we could hear it in the other rooms of our house.”
After cooling down, the appliance continues to hum as long as it’s plugged in.
“There is a constant buzzing sound when plugged in (think soda vending machine) that annoys my husband, but I don’t really notice it,” another customer wrote.
One customer said the machine can overheat unless you keep it two inches from the wall or other appliances.
Keurig Kold makes single 8-ounce servings of soda from disposable pods of syrup.
Several customers complained that there is no option to increase the size of the drink. Most cans of soda contain 12 ounces of liquid.
Others said the machine doesn’t always work, leading to wasted soda pods, and that the pods are far more expensive than buying canned soda at the store.
Coca-Cola soda pods are being sold in packs of four for $4.99. That means every pod is about $1.25. Meanwhile, 2-liter bottles of soda sell for under $2 in grocery stores.
“While I love Keurig and the thought of making sodas at home, this machine just hasn’t worked for me,” one customer wrote. “I’ve wasted pod after pod, with only 1 out of 3 sodas coming out at a time. They do come out cold, which is great.”
Keurig spokeswoman Suzanne DuLong said the company is working closely with customers on reports of pod-related challenges.
“We know that if a consumer fails to remove the pod’s freshness seal, the pod syrup will not dispense. In this case, we’ll replace the pod,” she said.
Another customer said he received the machine for free in exchange for an unbiased review, and he disliked the machine so much that he won’t be keeping it.
“I would not buy this product,” he wrote. “It is far from economical and there is no convenience benefit. The pods are almost as large as buying a can of soda. The machine is also too large to keep on the countertop, taking up almost as much room as my microwave. It is also loud – hums louder than the refrigerator on standby.” Not everyone is a critic. The product’s rating on Keurig’s website was 4 stars out of 5 – with 74 reviews tallied. “Some of the reviews I have read seem hyper-critical,” one reviewer, who bought the Kold, wrote.
But critics of the price of the machine have also taken toFacebookto complain as well, and Keurig is responding to each by claimingthe Kold “contains significant technological advancements and innovation resulting in a higher cost than our hot brewers.”
Several customers said they are excited to use the machine for special occasions, but probably won’t use it on a daily basis.
“Long term I’m not sure how feasible the Keurig Kold really is,” one customer wrote. “I really wanted to like it, but I’m not sure if I’m likely to buy more pods and continue to use the machine.”
In response to complaints about the size of the machine, DuLong said customers can expect future versions of the Kold machine to be smaller.
The noise that customers were complaining about is due to the fan that the machine uses to help regulate its temperature, DuLong said.
“As with any household appliance that has those functions, there is a minor noise associated with its operation from time to time throughout use,” she said. “During the initial chill down of the appliance, the fan noise will be a bit louderand constant, but will minimize and become intermittent once that chill-down is complete.”
The early reviews are troubling news for Keurig, which has seen its share price has plunge more than 60% since the beginning of the year, following a dramatic drop in sales of coffee brewers and accessories.
Last year’s rollout of Keurig’s latest coffee maker, the Keurig 2.0, was disappointing, and the company has been battling aggressive competition from other K-Cup makers that will force it to eventually drop prices on its coffee pods, putting pressure on profit margins, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.
Now Keurig is counting on Kold to fuel its future growth. The machine was built in partnership with Coca-Cola, and there’s a lot riding on its success.
Coca-Cola, for example, spent $2.4 billion last year building a 16% stake in Keurig ahead of the machine’s launch.
The soda company has lost about $1 billion on that investment so far – and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Coca-Cola will be getting that money back anytime in the near future.
Keurig recently lowered its sales guidance for the third time this year, saying it now expects a drop in the low- to mid-single digits for the 12 months ending in September. Previously, the company said it expected a slight increase. Sales of brewers and accessories plunged 26%, and profit fell 27% to $113.6 million.
Investors have been hoping Keurig Kold would reinvigorate the brand.
The machine does have some big advantages over SodaStream, such as the partnership with Coca-Cola that will allow customers to create Coke-branded products. The Kold machine also automatically chills beverages to 39 degrees, and it doesn’t rely on a CO2 canister, a feature that SodaStream customers have complained about.
Keurig also claims that the cold-beverage market is five times the size of the hot-beverage market.
But there are also some big obstacles to the success of Kold. Here are just a few:
1. The machine is too expensive, according to some analysts. Kold debuted at $369, compared to the starting price of $79 for the cheapest SodaStream model. Beyond the initial cost of the machine, every soda from a Kold machine will cost $0.99 to $1.29. By comparison, SodaStream drinks cost between $0.08 to $0.20 per serving.
2. Soda consumption has been falling in the US for decades. “Keurig is rolling out Kold at a time when Americans are scaling back on soda consumption amid health concerns such as obesity and diabetes,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Per capita soda consumption last year was 41.4 gallons, down from 52.4 gallons in 2004, according to data from Beverage Digest, a trade publication.
3. If the recent performance of SodaStream is any indication of Keurig Kold’s potential, then investors should be worried. SodaStream sales fell 29% in the most recent quarter, including a 44% drop in the US. Sales began declining last year, after seven straight years of double-digit growth, and its shares are down by nearly half in the past year.
4. Keurig Kold needs to be incorporated into Keurig’s hot-coffee machines. Until the two machines are combined, many customers could view Keurig Kold as just another appliance taking up valuable countertop space.