Europe appears to be winning the variety/selection war against North America
Do you speak a foreign language and can easily read foreign text? Have you ever taken the time to browse the different global sites which a manufacturer might have in place? If so, chances are you’ve discovered an ugly truth when it comes to what is being offered over there compared to here… the truth that some countries have a MUCH better selection of drinks and an even nicer selection of machines vs. what is offered this side of the pond here in the US and Canada.
Why is this? Is it because a manufacturer has one of those countries as its home base of operations? Is it because sales are more robust in those countries than elsewhere in the world? Is it due to regional preferences? Quite possibly, yes to all of the above but there are likely other factors at play of which we’re unaware.
While it can seem unfair and is quite infuriating at times, especially when you have a very minuscule selection in your country and another country has a selection which would take months to try out, we have a feeling most of our readers probably aren’t even aware of just how crazy of a difference there can be from one country to the next. As a result, consider this a form of PSA if you will… just don’t blame us when you feel like going all Office Space on your single serve machine with a baseball bat after reading this.
Let’s have a look at some of the more common manufacturers who offer their machines/pods in North America, the difference in drinks & machines in some countries and what tactics they are using in such regards (be they positive or negative). For brands that aren’t widely sold in Europe, we’ll compare the selection between USA & Canada instead.
- Based out of USA
- Most popular single serve format in North America
- Recyclable K-Cups
- Has refillable/reusable My K-Cup filter allowing you to use your own preference of ground coffee
- Aggressively acquiring almost every grocery store brand & coffee shop brand in North America in order to make licensed K-Cups
- keurig.com has 207 k-cup flavors, keurig.ca only has 153
- Several new flavors being released every few months in USA, only a handful of new flavors being released in Canada each year
- Keurig Vue machine & Vue Packs never officially sold in Canada
- Keurig Kold machine & Kold Pods never sold in Canadian retail stores, only offered briefly on costco.ca website.
- In an unheard of move, Keurig recently started offering full refunds of purchase price to early adopters after announcing it would kill-off the Keurig Kold brand and stop selling Kold Pods. This had the unfortunate side-effect of SodaStream (the Kold’s main competitor) to offer free SodaStream machines to anyone who e-mailed them a selfie posing in front of their Kold machine (you still needed to provide your machine’s serial #)
- Majority of Keurig Classic, Keurig 2.0 & Rivo machines sold in both USA & Canada
- Within past few years, Keurig decided to geoblock keurig.com in Canada, cancelled all Canadian accounts on keurig.com and forced any visits to keurig.com from Canadian IP addresses to be redirected to keurig.ca (They claimed this was to save Canadians expenses due to exchange rate, shipping costs, etc. but this effectively killed-off access to several brands not currently sold in Canada and stopped a revenue stream, albeit a small one, from Canadian purchasers on keurig.com)
- There is obviously still a desire to access USA-only brands/flavors as unlicensed retailers have started importing some of these brands and are now reselling them online and in stores across Canada.
- Keurig’s presence in Europe is limited to a handful of K-Cup flavors and office machines only. This may change due to the recent JAB Holdings acquisition of Keurig in December 2015.
- Based out of France
- Main competitor of Keurig
- Does not have a refillable/reusable T-Disc
- Does not have recyclable T-Discs
- Recently started allowing local coffee shops & grocery stores to make their own licensed T-Disc flavors
- Slightly increased popularity in Canada vs. USA, biggest popularity remains in Europe
- Latest machines & flavors always offered in France on tassimo.fr (There are still several which have never appeared in North America)
- Tassimo has a presence in most major countries across the World
- Unique distribution approach of offering only the most popular brands locally in retail stores within each country, a limited selection of brands internationally on their respective country’s website.
- tassimo.fr has 41 T-Disc flavors, tassimo.ca has 45 T-Disc flavors, gevalia.com (USA distributor) has 44 T-Disc flavors.
- Retail presence of machines & T-Discs in USA is almost nil, Retail presence of machines & T-Discs in Canada is still quite strong
- No new flavors offered in USA or Canada within past year.
- Feeling that this format may eventually disappear in North America based on lack of promotion/lack of new flavors/frequent sales on old stock of T-Discs in retail stores
Nescafe Dolce Gusto
- Based out of Switzerland (Parent company = Nestlé)
- Does not have a refillable/reusable pod
- Does not have recyclable pods (although recycling programs exist in some countries)
- Latest machines and flavors always offered in France on dolce-gusto.fr (There are still several which have never appeared in North America)
- Dolce Gusto has a presence in most major countries across the World
- Most of the more common flavors available internationally but majority of local flavors only sold locally within retail stores & on the respective country’s website.
- dolce-gusto.fr has 37 pod flavors, dolce-gusto.com has 18, dolce-gusto.ca has 10
- The brand is now dead in most retail stores across North America, new machines & new flavors haven’t been seen in stores over the past 3+ years. Number of flavors & machines vastly reduced on dolce-gusto.ca compared to what was offered at launch.
- Based out of Switzerland (Parent company = Nestlé)
- The ONLY brand to offer ALL its capsule flavors WORLD-WIDE (Why can’t ALL single-serve companies be like this?)
- Does not have a refillable/reusable capsule (although 3rd-party companies have various solutions to this issue)
- The ONLY brand to offer ALL machines WORLD-WIDE
- Constantly releasing new varieties, limited editions, flavored special editions, etc. every few months & at regular times each year
- The ONLY brand to have massive celebrity endorsement/advertising
- The ONLY brand to feature unique high-brow events such as culinary experiences with famous chefs, exquisite launch parties for new machines, etc
- Nespresso have taken a unique approach of offering its machines in retail stores but its capsules mostly online. Due to a high demand for a retail capsule presence, they took a rather innovative approach of creating a line of beautifully designed retail Boutique stores featuring premium building materials, decor & retail staff. It is almost an experience in itself and has a very high-end luxury feel.
- The Bay department store in Canada has partnered with Nespresso to introduce Boutique kiosks within their stores which offer the full line of capsules in a retail environment. This was due to the limited number of stand-alone Boutique locations in Canada.
- One of the only brands to feature professionally designed cup & saucer sets for its machines from top name designers/artists.
- Unique offering of accessories online such as coffee-scented candles, accompanying milk & dark chocolates, sugars, spoons, etc.
- One of the only brands which listens to consumer demands (they made the Kazaar variety part of their permanent line-up & constantly send out e-mail surveys to various users to see what new flavors they might be interested in. They also recently held an online poll which allowed users to pick the winning flavors of that year’s Variations flavored espressos).
- Bizarre habit of shipping damaged/dented capsules when ordering online (although they have no problem sending you replacement sleeves at no extra cost). What makes it even odder is that the cardboard sleeve has absolutely no damage whatsoever, yet the capsules inside are dented. Are they getting dented at the factory prior to packaging? Where is quality control? Weirder still, sleeves purchased at a Boutique do not exhibit this issue.
- Based out of the Netherlands (Pods are now licensed by Jacobs Douwe Egberts)
- The coffee pod format is vastly more popular in Europe & USA than in Canada
- Senseo machines & pods never released in Canada, pod format never really took off in Canada, the few brands that exist are not easily found in Canadian retail stores.
- Pods & machines have started disappearing from USA retail stores over past several years
senseo.nl has 15 pod flavors, senseo.us has 10
- Majority of machine varieties offered in Netherlands (they even have machines with milk dispensers for lattes & cappuccinos), USA only has 1 machine available (Senseo Original)
- Recent rumors of a possible resurgence of the brand in USA via e-mails received from past mailing-list/newsletter members.