Keurig. It’s not the only single-serve coffee maker, but its name has become synonymous with single-serve beverage-making device. It’s been criticized by environmentalists, but Keurig’s dominance grows—every time I walk down the coffee aisle of my local grocery store I see more shelf space dedicated to K-cups (the Keurig pod) and less to traditional coffee and tea.
So it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs look at Keurig’s success and think, “Hey, I could make a smart machine that’s a Keurig for (insert your favorite consumable here).”
This week, I went to two startup launch events: HAX, formerly Haxlr8r, a hardware accelerator based in Shenzhen, China, and San Francisco; and MakerCon’s Launch Pad startup competition, held in San Francisco. And there was a Keurig-for-something at each.
At HAX, Bartesian introduced a Keurig for cocktails, in particular, drinks made with vodka, gin, rum, or tequila. The gadget has four tanks—one for each spirit—and disposable single-drink capsules containing concentrated, shelf stable juices, syrups, sugars, bitters, and other mixers. They’re starting with six “flavors,” three familiar drinks—Sex on the Beach, the Classic Cosmo, and the Margarita—and three of their own blends. The concept is limited—I don’t see how they could add a carbonated mixer, for example.
I sampled the margarita, and I have to say I was disappointed. The drink was horrid; the founders told me that’s because they used cheap tequila. Hint to startups—if you’re trying to show off the skills of a robot bartender, spring for a top shelf brand. Pricing wasn’t announced, but company founders indicated it would be around the cost of a Keurig, which puts it under $200. Bartesian will be launching on Kickstarter in a month.