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Do you love your Keurig but wish your favorite coffee was available in K-cups? Have you avoided buying a Keurig single serve coffee brewer because you didn’t want to be locked into buying all your coffee from one company? Or are you one of those who were put off by the cost of K-cups or worry about the ultimate cost of K-cups to the environment?
For years, Green Mountain has dominated the single serve coffee industry, both in the equipment sector and in the consumable (coffee!) sector. That was largely due to the company’s canny strategy of protecting their market share with patents that prohibited others from making Keurig-compatible coffee capsules. While there were some notable exceptions — Solofill’s My Cup reusable Keurig filter, for example — for the most part, if you bought a Keurig brewer, you had no choice but to buy your coffee through Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
These days, thanks in part to the expiration of the K-cup patents in 2012 and a few court cases that decided in favor of defendants in patent infringement suits, you’ve got a whole lot more choice about whose coffee you brew in your Keurig coffee brewer. These are a few of the options available for your coffee-brewing pleasure — and you can expect many more to crop up as time goes on.
Fill Your Own K-Cup Alternatives
Refillable K-cups have been around for a while, and they’re still one of the most popular alternatives to the K-cup. Designed to fit the Keurig brewers, they allow you to use your choice of coffee in the capsule. The two most popular refillable K-cups are the Solofill My Cup and Keurig’s own My K-Cup. Solofill also offers you the option of buying a My Cup with a permanent metal filter. Refillable K-cups offer you cost savings and, since they’re reusable, you stop clogging up the landfills with used K-cups.
There’s also a third option, made by MyCap, which offers refillable cups for the Keurig — including K-Cup, Vue and Rivo brewers — as well as for Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and CBTL brewers. MyCap offers several different ways to use your own coffee in the Keurig, including refillable cups, filters and caps. The caps are ingenious, allowing you to reuse your original K-cups multiple times. They save you money and cost less than other refillable cups for the Keurig, but they do have a couple of down sides. First, you’ll still be contributing to the waste cycle, but nowhere near as much, since each cup can be reused a number of times. Second, and more importantly for many people, they can be a little inconvenient to use. If you make it a part of your weekly routine to empty, clean and refill a bunch of capsules at once, though, you can get by pretty well with these — and enjoy the coffees you prefer.
Recyclable/Compostable K-cup Alternatives
Love your Keurig but hate what they do to the environment? Recyclable/compostable K-cups are for you. There are several coffee roasters who offer these, but we’re most familiar with two.
Rogers Family Coffee, which won a copyright infringement suit against Keurig in 2011 for their OneCup, released its OneCup “BIO” cartridge in October 2013. The OneCup BIO is 98.6% biodegradable — as is its packaging and the coffee it contains. They’re designed to degrade in an anaerobic environment, so they’re compostable, as long as you remove the mesh filter. We heartily recommend San Francisco Bay Fog Chaser blend, but most San Francisco Bay coffees are available in the OneCup.
Dean’s Beans, a small, independent coffee roaster in Massachusetts, offers a selection of its most popular coffees in their own 100% recyclable ReCUPs, made of #5 recyclable materials accepted at most town’s transfer stations. Like Rogers Family Coffee, Dean’s Beans owner Dean Cycon takes environmental sustainability seriously. We’re big fans of the Ring of Fire blend, but your mileage may vary . If you prefer lighter roasts, the Birdwatcher’s Blend is delicious and bird-friendly.
Love your Maxwell House, Gevalia, Eight O’Clock or Folgers? All of them are now available in single serve K-Cups, either online or on your grocer’s shelves. Most of the companies offer all of their varieties in K-Cups, so you can enjoy your favorite blend with single serving convenience.