Yet another player in alternatives to K-Cups market, this one by the century-old German company Melitta. As the story goes, the company was founded by the inventor of the paper coffee filter. The Melitta Javajig is, in fact, as straightforward, reliable, and effective as one would expect from this well-respected company.
I’ve reviewed other reusable-and-use-your-own-coffee K-Cup replacements. The JavaJig is so simple, easy to use, and easy to clean that you immediately wonder why someone else didn’t immediately come up with this design.
The JavaJig has three BPA-free plastic reusable parts, plus a fluted paper filter that looks like a mini muffin tin liner. You place a filter paper over the upside-down black frame, slip the green outer sleeve over the frame, turn it over, add coffee (Melitta suggests an espresso grind), pop on the cap, and you have a pseudo-K-Cup ready to place in one of the many original style (not Vue) Keurig brewers. You do not need to remove the brewer’s filter assembly as you do with Keurig’s My K-Cup.
After brewing, the coffee and filter can be composted, the other parts rinsed, and you are ready to create another cup. Not only is this nearly foolproof, but it is dead easy to keep clean and there is no hinged lid that might snap off, as has been reported with the ekobrew or Solofill. The package includes two units, and they are inexpensive enough to have spares on hand if you feel lids may go missing.
I was able to get 12 grams of finely ground coffee in the JavaJig with a little tamping, but not packing. This is more than the insufficient 9 grams used in a standard K-Cup. There is space between the bottom of the green filter and the filter paper (thus, it does not get pierced like the bottom of a K-Cup). I tried a little manipulation of the filter to see if I could get it far away enough from the needle not to pierce the paper, but still allow for more coffee. It was too difficult to get the paper to cover the prongs, so grounds would easily leak out. Using a piece of regular coffee filter failed as it was too flimsy. By this time I realized that this amount of farting around spoiled the ease of use of the JavaJig.
Using fine grounds in some other devices causes back-up or overflow, but not in the JavaJig. The finer grounds also allow for more extraction. This is important not only because the older Keurig brewers just don’t have enough room or a long enough brew time for proper flavor development, but because the entire bottom of the JavaJig is the paper filter. Under the pressurized brewing, water goes through the grounds and filter faster than it would in a more enclosed environment, such as in some of the other K-Cup alternatives. I tried the JavaJig with 9 grams of coffee and two filters, with a 6-ounce cup; it worked, but did not slow down the brew time enough to make a difference.
Ergo, the JavaJig makes a cup of coffee comparable in strength and body to a K-Cup or similar substitute. It just suffers from the physical limitations and brewing method of the Keurig brewers themselves.
However, the resulting cup is much cleaner than the alternatives that use metal filters, since the paper filter helps eliminate sludge and small fines (for purists who can taste paper — not that they’d be likely users of this product — the assembled JavaJig and filter can be rinsed before filling with coffee).
The beauty of the JavaJig, and the reason I recommend it over all the other devices I’ve used so far, is its simplicity, cleanliness, and excellent value compared to the others. The starter outfit includes two JavaJigs and 30 filters. The filters are around $0.07 each, versus $0.16 each for the other competitor that uses filters. It can also be used with loose tea with very good results.
Alas, this will likely be my last review of any sort of K-Cup or Keurig brewer alternative. I will post an explanation, as well as a summary, in an upcoming post.