3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Keurig Kold
The same company that revolutionized the way you drink coffee at home is now trying to give carbonated beverages a shot. Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) began selling Keurig Kold on Tuesday, a beverage maker that fizzes up carbonated drinks at a cool 39 degrees Fahrenheit in all of 90 seconds.
Keurig is the same company behind the namesake brewers that redefined the way we consume single servings of coffee, introducing "K-Cup" into the vocabulary of tens of millions of java junkies. Now it's teaming up with Coca-Cola (KO) and Dr Pepper Group (DPS) to let folks make fresh eight-ounce servings of brand-name soda at home or anywhere else.
If you're even a casual soda sipper, you might be tempted to want one, but let's go over the three important questions whose answers will dictate if you actually want to buy one.
1. Is Keurig Kold Worth the Initial Investment?
Making your own soda is a novel concept, but the cover charge is a bit steep. Keurig Kold starts at $299 and the initial model that comes with two glasses retails for $369. That's a lot of money for a soda maker, especially when SodaStream (SODA) has a few models available for less than $100.
To be fair, Keurig Kold is a far more sophisticated machine than anything that SodaStream has put out. Keurig Kold serves beverages at a chilled temperature, something that SodaStream doesn't offer even though it means that you have to have your Keurig Kold turned on for at least two hours before use. Keurig Kold also doesn't need CO2 canisters like SodaStream: The fizzing elements are contained within the K-Cup-like pods. The benefits are neat, but is it worth an initial investment of at least $300 to see if it's right for you?
2. Am I Cool With Paying More for Soda I Make at Home?
Crafting your own Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite or Dr Pepper at home is convenient, but it's not cheaper than buying it in bottles or cans at the store. The brand-name soda pods cost $4.99 for a box that contains four pods. We're talking about $1.25 a serving, and we're talking about 8 ounces here. A traditional can of soda contains 12 ounces.
The Keurig Kold serving is comparable to the petite cans that began rolling out a few years ago, and buying those in a six-pack at your local supermarket will cost you roughly half as much per serving as using Keurig Kold.
3. Am I Comfortable with the Risks of Being an Early Adopter?
Folks who need to get shiny new toys first take on the risks of overpaying or buying into flops that get abandoned. Just as entry-level Keurig coffee brewers got cheaper over time, it's a safe bet that Keurig Kold machines -- if successful -- will get more affordable in future generations.
The big question is whether there will be future generations. Keurig Kold was supposed to be available everywhere by now, but as of now it's limited to Keurig's website. In a few weeks it will start popping up in select markets. Keurig doesn't expect mass-market penetration until next year. If you're comfortable buying your pods online, that may not be a problem, but you might want to wait for it to actually take off. You would hate to spend $300 on a machine that flops, especially since you need production to continue so you can restock your machine with Kold pods.
Keurig Kold is cool, and even the steep initial investment may be worth it if it makes you the star of your holiday parties this year. However, there are also plenty of reasons to be cautious at a time when soda consumption in general is on the decline.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Keurig Green Mountain and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola, short January 2016 $43 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola and Keurig Green Mountain. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.