Starbucks is already the biggest name when it comes to grabbing a coffee while you’re out and about. Now, the Seattle-based brand is making a renewed push to be your go-to company when making coffee at home with a new and improved version of its Verismo single-cup coffee and espresso maker, dubbed the “Verismo V.” Available for pre-order online starting today and in stores on October 21, the new Verismo V offers a number of upgrades to the old system. The updated brewer now can make a larger 10-ounce cup of coffee; has a drip tray that can adjust to different mug sizes; offers a larger, side-oriented water reservoir; promises quieter operation; and also boasts the ability to heat up to brewing temperature in just 15 seconds.
Starbucks also has tweaked the brewer's milk frother, giving customers the option of going full barista and replacing their entire at-home brewing system as part of an “Everyday” Bundle for $179. Separately the Verismo V Brewer retails for $149 and the Verismo Milk Frother is $59.
Coinciding with the launch is a number of new Starbucks coffee and espresso pod varieties, meaning coffee drinkers will have more options than ever before when it comes to firing up their Verismo to get their caffeine fix.
What hasn’t changed is the Verismo V brewing system’s general pitch of “allowing customers to craft Starbucks brewed coffee, espresso, and caffé lattes consistently and conveniently, one cup at a time with the push of a button.” And though the many adjustments to the system seem to address some customer gripes, according to a story posted to the Starbucks Newsroom, the coffee giant also worked to improve the quality of the beverages it produces as well. “We always start by working with the coffee team to understand the flavor profile they are looking for,” Paul Camera, director of Global Equipment Development for Starbucks, says. “Then it’s up to us to develop a machine that best expresses the flavor of each coffee bean.”
However, beyond simply selling a better brewer, Starbucks has other incentives for wanting to reassert itself in the competitive “K-Cup” single-serving pod-based brewing market. According to a January article from The Street, Starbucks has about a 17 percent share of the K-Cup market, with company execs pointing out it’s the “number one K-Cup brand.” But the majority of those sales come from a licensing agreement with coffee-pod king Keurig instead of Starbucks’ own Verismo system. That’s a big chunk of a pod and packaged coffee business that reportedly had $1.7 billion in sales last year.
Compounding these concerns was last December’s news that Keurig Green Mountain was selling out to JAB Holding Companies, an international group that also has stakes in a number of Starbucks competitors like Peet’s, Caribou, Stumptown and Intelligentsia, just to name a few. Not long after, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told analysts, “We are 100 percent committed to the K-Cup market, but the one thing that is uncertain is if we will go at it alone.”
So yes, Starbucks at-home brewer which first launched in late 2012 was ready for a major overhaul. But it’s also probably safe to say that the brand has more than just bringing customers a better cup of coffee on its collective mind at the moment.