The 10 Best Reusable K-Cups
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. These quality reusable K-Cups make using your favorite bagged or home-ground java in your Keurig coffee maker a breeze, and you can also feel good that you're contributing fewer disposable pods to your local landfill. We've rounded up a variety of options both for single-cup servings and carafes, including models that are compatible with 1.0, 2.0, and Plus series brewing machines. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best reusable k-cup on Amazon.
October 18, 2018: Replaced outdated models and expanded offerings to include pods that are compatible with a wider range of machines. Also added carafe options that can be used to brew several cups at a time.
A Brief History Of Single-Serve Coffee
The story of human history before coffee is likely one that some scribe meant to write down, if only he'd been able to find the energy.
The story of human history before coffee is likely one that some scribe meant to write down, if only he'd been able to find the energy. However, we're not worried about the whole history of coffee right now. We're just talking about the single-serve version.
The invention of single-serve coffee didn't start with the K-cup. Instant coffee was invented in France in 1881, using something called a "dry hot-air process." What that means is a mystery, but people kept tinkering with it until 1938, when the Nescafé brand was launched.
This soluble powder coffee was incredibly popular during WWII, as it was easy for troops to make when they were on the front lines, and it kept them energized and alert while on guard duty.
After the war, freeze-dried instant coffee hit the shelves, and in 1970, the automatic drip maker was released, courtesy of Mr. Coffee. Eventually, the company released models small enough to make a single cup rather than a whole pot, although the process was still pretty time-consuming.
While the single-serving drip pots became popular in offices across the United States and Europe, it was the release of the Keurig coffee maker and its special dispensary system, the K-cup, in 1998 that truly set the market on fire.
The company came along at a fortuitous time, as the rapid expansion of Starbucks had already familiarized people with the idea of paying for a single cup of coffee. The idea of getting just one cup when you need it — without having to walk down the street to Starbucks, or up the street to the other Starbucks — was immediately popular.
What made the Keurig so ingenious is that the company exclusively owned both the product and the delivery system. If you wanted easy, single-serve coffee, you used K-cups. If you used K-cups, you needed a Keurig.
However, that exclusivity didn't last long, as several other companies — including Starbucks — began to release their own versions of both the K-cup and the Keurig machine. Still, Keurig continues to dominate the market, and it's a big one — at least $3 billion a year.
It certainly looks like the single-serve coffee maker is here to stay, so the days of brewing (and wasting) an entire pot just to pour one cup are gone.
If you ask us, though, anyone who drinks only one cup of coffee a day simply lacks hustle.
Benefits Of A Reusable K-Cup
One of the biggest downsides to using Keurigs with disposable K-cups is that they're more expensive than other types of coffee (also, they're bad for the environment, but more on that later).
Reusable cups are usually better-designed than the disposal ones, as well, allowing for superior water dispersion.
That's the primary advantage of a reusable cup. Like having your own water bottle, it stops you from needing to constantly buy new units. All you have to buy is the coffee, saving you a bundle on containers.
They also free you up to use your own grounds — provided you have a grinder, of course. Instead of being limited to whatever flavors the big coffee companies put out, you can use your own beans, making them fantastic for snobs and aficionados.
Reusable cups are usually better-designed than the disposal ones, as well, allowing for superior water dispersion. That helps create a delicious brew, time after time. Most can be put in the dishwasher when you're done with them, so you don't have to worry about clogs.
If you're addicted to your Keurig, there's no reason not to invest in your own reusable K-cup — unless you like throwing away money in addition to coffee pods.
Just How Bad Are K-Cups For The Environment, Anyway?
While Keurigs continue to grow in popularity, the backlash against them seems to be growing just as fast. The primary complaint? That they're terrible for the environment — and that's not entirely wrong, given that the disposable K-cups are neither recyclable nor biodegradable.
Even worse, the number of K-cups that are already clogging up our landfills could stretch around the planet at least 10 times, if for some reason we wanted to confuse aliens by encircling the Earth with K-cups. When you include the fact that about a quarter of homes in America now feature a single-use coffee maker, it certainly seems unlikely that that number will dwindle anytime soon.
The problem is that even these recyclable K-cups still aren't biodegradable or compostable, and they use a tremendous amount of plastic.
Manufacturers haven't been deaf to the outcry, however. Keurig has committed to making their pods recyclable by 2020, but that's not enough for many critics.
The problem is that even these recyclable K-cups still aren't biodegradable or compostable, and they use a tremendous amount of plastic. Since only about 34 percent of all trash today is recycled, making the cups recyclable will only slow down the rate at which they fill our dumps, rather than stop it altogether.
Not everyone is sold on the fact that these pods are a menace, however. The things are small, and as such, they represent a tiny percentage of all the trash being dumped in our landfills. Also, coffee's biggest environmental impact is still found in its brewing process, which uses quite a bit of water and electricity — especially if the machine doesn't power down when not in use.
As always, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Will K-cups single-handedly destroy the planet? No, probably not. But that's no excuse to create a bunch of needless waste, especially since a superior alternative to making single-serve coffee is already at hand.
Statistics and Editorial Log