Feeling guilty about your capsule coffee habit? You’re not alone. The founder of Keurig himself has said he regrets introducing single-cup coffee makers to the world, since those little plastic K-Cups are now clogging trash cans. But if you already have a Keurig — and many people do — there’s a simple way to reduce your daily coffee waste: invest in eco-friendly K-Cups.
What constitutes an “eco-friendly” K-Cup is a matter of debate. Several companies have introduced compostable or biodegradable options, but critics counter that those labels are meaningless. San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee was even slapped with a pricey legal settlement for using the word “biodegradable” on its capsules, which contained plastic.
These four reusable or refillable K-Cups are a more sustainable choice. They’re made out of steel or plastic, and cost just a few dollars each. Simply clean the capsules when you’re done and you can use them again the next morning. You’re not chucking anything in the trash, except maybe the coffee grounds — but don’t worry, you can compost those.
Keurig makes its own reusable coffee pod, the My K-Cup, which has a long and contentious history. It debuted in 2005, but momentarily disappeared in 2015, when Keurig rolled out a new fleet of coffee makers totally incompatible with the My K-Cup. Fans were so angry that the company brought it back, and it’s remained in the product line-up ever since.
The My K-Cup features two fill lines, so you can customize the strength of your brew, and it can be cleaned in the dishwasher, so long as you stick to the top rack. Keurig sells them in individual packs for $15 apiece.
The “classic” Ekobrew filter is a hard plastic capsule with stripes of steel mesh on either side. It comes in bright colors, and runs for as little as $7 on Amazon. The “elite” is all stainless steel, and costs about double. But both can be reused again and again.
Ekobrew claims its cups only need a rinse in the sink about once per week, but it’s safe to run them through the dishwasher. (If you drink tons of dark roast each day, you might want to explore this option.) The company also sells cleaning tablets that dissolve lingering oil and residue from the filter and brewer.
Fill ‘N Save
Considering its design (plastic with steel piping, or just steel) and hue (purple), the Fill ‘N Save is remarkably similar to the Ekobrew K-cup. But it enjoys better reviews on Amazon, where it’s easy to buy in 4-pack bundles for $15 or less. The Fill ‘N Save is, like its competitors, BPA-free and dishwasher-safe. The company recommends loading it with a medium grind coffee, but you can go wild with teas, cocoas, and ciders, if you’re seeking a less caffeinated beverage.
If you’re into something tall, elegant, and very orange, Housewares Solutions has a reusable “carafe” for you. Prefer something purple with dolphins on it? They’ve got a “FROZ-CUP” that fits the bill.
Both of these refillable K-cups are made with hard plastic and steel mesh, with a silicone ring along the lid. While the carafes are designed for Keurig 2.0 coffee makers and yield multiple cups at a time, the FROZ-CUP fits 1.0 and 2.0 models, brewing a single cup with each use. You can grab a carafe 2-pack for $9 or a FROZ-CUP bundle of four for around $7.