K-Cup alternatives: summary and parting thoughts

by JulieCraves on November 22, 2012

Updated December 2018

I wrote my first post on an alternative for throwing away those wasteful, pesky not-really-recycled/recyclable K-Cups in 2007.  Since then, I have reviewed a number of alternatives. I’ve even reviewed another single-cup brewer. However, now that some of the patents on K-Cups have expired, we have more variations and and alternatives to Keurig brewers and single-cup pods, cartridges, and capsules than Carter has little pills.

Avoiding sending coffee-related trash to landfills (and using much more sustainably-grown coffee than is typically available in pre-packaged single-cup coffee products) is certainly within the purvey of a web site on coffee sustainability. But it’s come to the point that if I were to review, or even mention, half of the K-Cup alternatives flooding the market this site would veer away from an emphasis on the ecological effects of coffee growing.  I am going to semi-retire from discussing or reviewing these types of products, unless there is some sort of remarkable innovation or noteworthy news.

For my finale, here is a table that summarizes the popular products currently on the market which are reusable alternatives to K-Cups which allow for the use of a consumer’s own coffee that are compatible with many of the original Keurig brewers.

Reusable alternatives to K-Cups

Product
Approx. Price
Capacity in grams*
Notes
My K-Cup Reusable Filter$5.98, original. $7.39 for a universal model that fits older AND newer (2.0) Keurig brewers.15 or 17Best to have at least 2 so that you aren't cleaning one over and over. For $9.95 a third party makes a pack of 4 universal stainless steel version.

My review here.
ekobrew



2nd-most popular with C&C readers.

$6.9514Also fits both old and new Keurig brewers.

My review here.
Solofill

See also gold versionthat has less potential to alter flavor.

Most popular with C&C readers.
$12.9911Also compatible with most brewers.

My review here.
My-Cap (was My-Kap)$6.99 for 3 + brush9, or however much you can fit into an old K-CupUsed to refill old K-Cups.

My post here.
EZ Cup by Perfect Pod$9.90Around 9Requires proprietary filters, approximately $12 for 100. Only for older Keurig brewers.

I’m not sure, given the fact that there are so many competitors and K-Cup brands, that K-Cups themselves will ever be truly eco-friendly.  Here is what Keurig owner Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) had to say in their 2011 CSR document:

Widespread adoption of the Keurig® single cup brewing system raises some important — and complex — environmental challenges. To better understand the impact of our products and guide our efforts to address those challenges, we conducted a life cycle analysis comparing single cup brewing systems to drip-brewing systems. We learned that the cultivation of coffee beans, operation of brewing systems, and use of materials in product packaging all represent significant impacts on the environment. The study revealed that packaging disposal represents a fraction of a product’s environmental impact across its entire life cycle.

Literally billions of K-cups ending up in a landfill may be just a “fraction” of this product’s environmental impact, but it is huge in and of itself. With the alternatives listed above, there’s no excuse for using this wasteful product.

Update: Here’s a couple of articles on the lack of recyclability of K-Cups in general and lack of sustainability in newer versions as well.

*I’ve included the capacity as stated in promotional material, user reviews on outside web sites, and/or my own testing, if available. The volume of coffee grounds that will fit in something that goes in the original Keurig brewers is, in my opinion, the biggest limitation to coffee quality to those machines. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends 10 grams of coffee per 6-ounce cup; most people drink larger mugs of coffee and may also prefer a stronger cup. A regular K-Cup can hold about 9 grams of coffee. Despite “bold” selections and brewers that make various cups size, the physical capacity of the older (not the new “Vue” brewers) machines is difficult to overcome. Therefore, getting a well-crafted cup of coffee from a Keurig brewer (and many other brands I have seen or used) is hit or miss.

Revised on December 13, 2018

Posted in Coffee-related products,K-Cups/Keurig brewers: alternatives

Scott November 23, 2012 at 3:19 am

I’ve never cared for the one-cup machines due to their inherent waste. Particularily of plastic. The solutions listed above do seem to be a good alternative.

Coffe man December 10, 2012 at 10:02 am

Awesome post! More something like this

sustainable living December 11, 2012 at 7:36 am

Never thought of such alternatives. thanks for sharing.

Michael January 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

Thanks, Julie, for being the go-to source for this information for so long. What are you going to do with all the time you used to spend reviewing this stuff?

M

JACraves January 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

Perfecting my pour-over technique?

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