For Christmas, my wife purchased a Keurig K-Supreme Plus SMART, the latest iteration in coffee pod machines from the company. It came out a few months ago, I even got a special pre-order offer, but when I went to the website a few times there were persistent failures in being able to buy it. So I forgot about it.

After using it, you may be wondering if the website issues were created by the same groups doing the code for the machine. When it works, it is fine. The problem is it does not work too much of the time.

The encapsulated introduction to it is that this is a smart device. It is hooked up to your network and using an app you can customize your coffee to your preferences. That sounds great, but there are caveats.

The big annoyance for me is that it needs an app at all. 
If you don't use your phone, nothing is saved. The machines reads the pod (sometimes - see more on that below) and when it is placed in and you close the lid, it will use its database and select the optimal brew, temperature, etc. Green Mountain has been successful at this stuff for a long time, so successful they bought Keurig, the coffee maker company that made GMCR rich selling pods to put into the machines. Most often the optimal will be 8 ounces, etc. But since the machine is reading the pod anyway, why not have an option on the machine itself to always brew Double Black Diamond the same way?

Their thinking must be that two to four people may be using it, and maybe they all drink the same blend. That's great, flexibility is good, except forcing a solution for four people onto every customer is the opposite of customization. If you don't live on your phone, it slows you down.

And when it does not read the pod at all, you are going to want to throw the machine out the window. In dozens of runs so far, 10 percent of the time the machine didn't read the pod at all. With the regular machines, assuming you hate wasting pods, if you forgot to press the brew button and it times out you can just open the handle and turn the pod and it will be fine. With the Keurig K-Supreme Plus SMART, the five needles in their multi-stream technology make a huge mess if you rotate the pod and ruins the coffee anyway. 

Not only will it ruin that coffee, it will ruin the next few. You can't take those out to clean them and those five needles mean you can't use a sponge or rag to clean them. I tried cleaning what I could reach without a toothbrush, I took out the pod basket without impaling my fingers, but running 12 ounces of water through it still had grinds two cups later.

It has welcome features, like scheduling. I don't know when I'll wake up in the morning so a timer is of little personal benefit but if you set an alarm and get ready for work on a schedule the utility of it is obvious. Will it work? I have still yet to get it to do so. 

Saturday morning, as I wrote this, for example, I scheduled one for about 30 minutes in the future. And I got the dreaded Insert Pod error yet again. This time I let it sit to see if the software corrected itself and I checked a few minutes later and it had shut off, a supposed eco feature you can't control in settings like you can in less 'smart' Keurigs.  So I used the app to turn it on and it gave me those rotating arrows to show it is busy complying before doing nothing after 30 seconds or so and still saying the power was off.

Will I have coffee or not? No. 


My wife happened to be in the kitchen when I told her I was annoyed at this recurring pod detection error and since she bought this for me, she wasn't happy. Having learned my lesson about just opening it and closing it again, I wasted yet another pod by just throwing it out, put a new one in the same error. Which meant another wasted pod.

So I threw that one out too and closed the handle it and it read that it was going to brew under the default settings, even with no pod in it. So I pressed that and it delivered 8 ounces of hot water with grinds in it. Then it did that again. I can only guess the software had some weird delay where it was trying to brew the two pods it said did not exist when they were in there.

That is a software problem. A big one. I went into Settings and changed the default so it will collect diagnostic data so when I call the company to find out how common this issue is, they can access my usage and see if they detect the errors. If they say they can't detect, the pod detection problems may be even worse. 

I later tried using the Alexa app, and the lady voice assured me it was scheduled and even repeated back the device and time to me, but when I got curious a few minutes after it was supposed to fire, nothing. Power off, no coffee.

One other strange software issue is the SMART auto-delivery feature. I can see all of my recent deliveries in the app, 23 pages worth before I gave up having to manually click (there is no go to first or last, just the 5 in that field and then an arrow that will do 1) and yet unless I set up a new SMART delivery inside the app there's no evidence it's doing anything. Good software would look at the last order I had and go from there. You don't know exactly how many pods I have used from the four boxes I bought last but after two days you can infer how many I probably used and estimate when I should likely order next based on 4 boxes divided by X per day used so far. This instead ignores however many years of history, based on actual auto-delivery purchases, and won't do anything unless I set up a completely separate auto-delivery order.

Forcing users into a system rather than making people want it is a sign someone in product development was in love with a feature and the user experience was not considered. I get it, I was at software companies for decades, but that means I also know when that happens it doesn't end well for anyone.

So the only recommendation I can make is to see what machine you got - the 80 or 90 percent that passed product testing and QA or one of these that sits in my house doing whatever it feels like doing. The former, you'll likely be happy with. This latter one, you'll hope your spouse didn't pay full price.