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. With my recent review of the Melitta JavaJig, 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
|My K-Cup Reusable Filter||$17.95||15||3.5/5 (1,000+)||Requires removing filter assemby on brewer.
My post here.
Most popular with C&C readers.
|$16.95||14||4/5 (2,000+)||Also available in a stainless steel version.
My post here.
|Solofill Cup V1 Gold Refillable Filter Cup for Keurig VUE Brewers||$27.99||4.5/5 (100+)||For use in new VUE brewers, in which old K-Cups and alternatives do not fit.|
Second-most popular with C&C readers.
|$14.95||11||4/5 (1,000+)||My post here.|
|My-Cap (was My-Kap)||$9.99 for 4||9, or however much you can fit into an old K-Cup||4/5 (100+)||Used to refill old K-Cups.
My post here.
|EZ Cup by Perfect Pod||$19.99||Not tested||4/5 (200+)||Requires proprietary filters, approximately $8 for 50.|
|JavaJig by Melitta||$8.99 for 2 plus 30 filters||12||3.5/5 (175+)||Requires proprietary filters, approximately $4 for 60.
My post here.
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 recently released 2011 CSR document (PDF):
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 good article on the lack of recyclability of K-Cups.
*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.