According to its creators, the $370 Keurig Kold system, born of abetween Coca-Cola and pod-coffee-brewing giant Keurig, will revolutionize the way you enjoy soft drinks at home. The key to that revolution has two parts. One, it will make officially licensed Coke products. The other is that that, unlike other home-carbonation solutions -- namely SodaStream, which has a partnership with Pepsi -- Keurig Kold will let you make cold Coke and other-branded soft drinks on demand with its own unique carbonation system. Unlike SodaStream, the Kold does not require a CO2 canister to produce bubbles. That means no more trips to Target to swap out canisters.
Putting aside its price for a moment, the concept of Keurig Kold sounds compelling if you're a soda drinker. In practice, it's anything but. The machine is bulky, loud, and it makes drinks too slowly -- about 90 seconds to produce one 8-ounce glass of soda. Worse, especially for American soda drinkers who famously demand consistency, Kold-produced Coke doesn't taste the same as the canned or bottled versions. Keurig's carbonation technique results in a flatter mouth-feel. It also tastes syrupy.
Factor in those sins alongside the sky-high price for both the Kold unit and the drink pods (about $5 for a pack of four pods, each of which yields just one 8-ounce serving ), and Keurig's new soda machine feels more like New Coke than Coke Classic. Stay away.
From coffee pods to soda pop
Packed into puck-shaped plastic containers similar to the coffee pods for which Keurig is best known, Kold pods contain everything needed to create soda once you add water. The procedure for making Kold drinks is also close to that of Keurig's coffee machine. Once you fill the machine with water, you simply open the device, drop in your selected pod, then hit the button. After 90 seconds-- about 75 seconds longer than it takes to pull a can out of the fridge and open it -- you'll receive your drink.
Alongside the seeming convenience of soda on-demand, Keurig is also clearly banking on its partnership with Coke to help sell the Kold. While soda consumption in America has fallen every year for more than a decade, Coke still enjoys a sizable market-share lead over rival Pepsi: 42 percent to 30 percent, according to StreetAuthority.com in 2014. You'll find Kold-specific pods that make Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke, as well as Coke-owned Sprite, and Fanta. Keurig also offers pods for Dr. Pepper and Canada Dry (owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group), as well as its own house-branded soda with names like Flyte, Waterful, and Red Barn.
Up close with Kold
The first thing that grabs you about the Keurig Kold appliance is its imposing size. Dwarfing even kitchen monsters such as theand , the Kold machine is simply massive. It stands at 17.5 inches tall and measures an expansive 12 inches wide by 19.25 inches deep. More shocking, its 23.7 pound weight gives new meaning to the word "heft" for a countertop product.
Despite being humongous, the Kold's exterior and basic design is very similar to Keurig's coffee pod brewers. Pull the rounded handle on its front face to open and close a receptacle for Kold pods. The left side of the drink maker houses its large 52-ounce water tank. The reservoir is removable and features a detachable lid for hassle-free filling.
A big, round button on the Kold's control panel will activate the beverage-making process but only when the appliance is ready. A LED light that rings the button communicates the status of the machine by glowing in different colors. For example, when the Kold is occupied, the light will either shine white for chilling, purple for priming or cleaning, or red if there's a problem. When it's ready to make a drink, as with other Keurig machines, the light will turn blue.
Directly below the button are the Keurig Kold's other indicators. A chiller gauge (essentially a coldness level bar) graphically displays drink-making capacity in increments. Likewise, a water drop symbol blinks blue when the water tank begins to run dry.