Keurig revolutionized the coffee industry with its single-serve K cups, but this brewing breakthrough has led to serious ecological concerns. Plenty of people attracted to the idea of enjoying a steaming cup of coffee within seconds object to the environmental impact of all that plastic waste. The solution? Reusable K cups that provide the same single-serve ease and convenience as disposable versions.
Reusable K cups are made of varying percentages of plastic and stainless steel with slight design variations that could appeal to your personal brewing style. Read on to learn what to look for in these eco-friendly products and why the following are considered among the best reusable K cups you can buy.
- BEST OVERALL: iPartsPlusMore Reusable K Cups for Keurig 2.0 & 1.0
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Perfect Pod Cafe Save Reusable K Cup Pod
- BEST MULTIPLE BREW SIZE: Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable K-Cup Pod
- BEST NON-MESH: Cafe Flow Stainless Steel Reusable K Cup
- BEST BUNDLE: Cafe Fill Value Pack by Perfect Pod
- EASIEST TO FIT: Delibru Reusable K Cups for Keurig 2.0 & 1.0
- EASIEST TO CLEAN: Maxware 4 Reusable Refillable Coffee Filters
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Reusable K Cup
While Keurig created the original K cups, other coffee machine manufacturers quickly developed their own. Coffee makers also started making their own Keurig-compatible K cups, sometimes referred to as pods. Today, makers of reusable K cups strive to make their products compatible with as many coffee machine models as possible.
Standard disposable K cups are made of plastic and foil and are single-use. Once placed in the chamber of the machine, small needles perforate the foil lid and plastic bottom of the pod, allowing hot, pressurized water to go in and brewed coffee to come out. Empty pods are tossed in the trash—not a very eco-friendly practice.
Reusable K cups must be filled with ground coffee before inserting them into the machine. A bit more work, but once a reusable K cup is filled it offers the same single-serve convenience and gives each user the opportunity to make their favorite blend. Properly cared for reusable K cups can last for years, depending on how often they’re used and whether you opt to hand-wash or use a dishwasher.
Reusable K cups vary in their capacities, materials, and accessories, among other aspects. Keep the following features and factors in mind when choosing reusable K cups.
Reusable K cups generally hold 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee, enough for a single serving. Some K cups offer different fill lines, so you can brew different-sized cups of coffee. However, the standard for a typical 8-ounce serving is around 2 teaspoons.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking that the more grounds you can fit in the K cup, the stronger the coffee In fact, overfilling a reusable K cup can actually lead to weaker coffee because the water cannot penetrate the grounds to release as much flavor. It can also cause a big, wet —literally—hot mess.
K cups are made of stainless steel and plastic. Look for plastic models that are BPA-free and eco-friendly to avoid exposure to unwanted chemicals.
The greatest variation comes in the percentage of stainless steel to plastic. Some models have a lid and frame made of plastic with stainless steel mesh in the K cup’s basket. Others comprise a stainless steel basket with perforated holes rather than stainless steel mesh. Though these models do have a partially plastic lid, they are more metal than plastic. Either kind, whether mostly metal or mostly plastic, can work well.
Models with stainless steel baskets cost more, but they withstand the heat of dishwashers better than the models with a higher plastic content. However, either type can last for years, especially if they’re gently hand-washed.
The coffee machine also plays a significant role in how well the K cups work; some stainless steel basket cups simply fit better into certain machines. Reusable K cup manufacturers usually list the machines with which their products are compatible, increasing the chances of optimum performance.
The mesh size of the K cup affects the grind—coarse or fine—and ultimately the flavor of the coffee. A finer mesh works with finer grounds, resulting in a stronger flavor. A finer mesh also does a better job of preventing grounds from getting into the coffee.
However, a wider mesh works well with coarse grinds and coffee machines with longer extraction times. A coarse grind requires more time for the water to penetrate the grinds and extract the full flavor. A machine with a shorter extraction time would require a finer grind. Consequently, the choice of mesh size comes down to the machine being used. For a standard generic coffee machine, a medium grind works well, but a fine to medium-size mesh would also be appropriate.
The final flavor still depends on a number of factors beyond mesh size, including grind, extraction time, extraction temperatures, and the coffee itself. Making the perfect brew takes a bit of practice, no matter the K cup’s mesh size. However, if you already know your preferred roast and grind, you can get a mesh size that complements it.
For example, if the machine has a short extraction time, choose your favorite dark roast coffee or espresso beans, as these offer better flavor in shorter extraction times, and pair with a reusable K cup with a fine mesh. The fine grind combined with the fine mesh keeps grounds out of the coffee and still extracts the right amount of flavor. In this case, the result is closer to espresso in flavor than a traditional cup of coffee.
Reusable K cups sometimes come with accessories, most often paper filters or a coffee scoop. Paper filters prevent grounds from sneaking into the coffee, while a scoop allows for precise measuring. Keep in mind that while neither paper filters or a coffee scoop is necessary, reusable K cup bundles that include these extra accessories may offer a better bang for the buck.
Keurig started the K cup craze. However, even among Keurig models, not all reusable K cups fit every machine. In fact, even among a single manufacturer, some reusable K cups that work with one machine may not fit another.
Reusable K cup manufacturers list the machines with which their cups are compatible. Check this list carefully to prevent a package of reusable K cups that don’t work with your machine.
Our Top Picks
The reusable K cups on this list fit a wide range of coffee machines. They are all easy to use and have excellent durability.
The Reusable K Cups for Keurig 2.0 &1.0 Brewers by iPartsPlusMore Store bring reliability and quality to the table. Each reusable K cup is made of BPA-free plastic and a fine, high-quality stainless steel mesh. Each of the four cups holds 2 teaspoons of coffee grounds.
These K cups work with a wide range of Keurig machines. And, since many non-Keurig coffee machines are designed for compatibility with Keurig K cups, they’re compatible with a variety of non-Keurig machines too. They’re also dishwasher-safe for easy care and cleaning.
The Perfect Pod Cafe Save Reusable K Cup Pods are made with a durable BPA-free plastic and stainless steel mesh. The cup’s bottom features a recessed design so it can be placed without a specific orientation in the coffee machine.
Each of the six cups holds 2 teaspoons of ground coffee. They work with a wide range of machines, including many of those by Keurig, Mr. Coffee, Cuisinart, and Chefman. The cups are dishwasher-safe, and the lid is attached to the cup, so it won’t get separated (or lost) during the cleaning cycle.
The Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable K-Cup Pod has a more complex design than many of its counterparts. It includes a lid, filter basket, filter holder, and brewer adaptor to fit different Keurig machines. Yet what sets these reusable cups apart are the two fill lines. Users can make a full or a travel cup of coffee, based on how much ground coffee is used. At maximum, the cup holds 3.5 teaspoons of grounds.
These K cups are sold singly and are made of hard plastic and stainless mesh. They are designed by Keurig to specifically fit Keurig machines, so they may not be compatible with other coffee maker brands. All parts are dishwasher-safe.
The design of Cafe Flow Stainless Steel Reusable K Cups skips mesh in favor of an all stainless steel bucket. While the lid still has some plastic, the high stainless steel construction improves these cups’ long-term durability. When it does come time to dispose of these caps, there is less plastic waste too.
These reusable K cups, sold in a two-pack, hold up to 2 tablespoons to offer different brewing volumes. They’re dishwasher-safe and compatible with several models within different coffee maker brands, but check carefully to make sure your machine is on the list.
The Cafe Fill Value Pack by Perfect Pod includes a 2 tablespoon coffee scoop and two reusable K cups. The scoop opens with a thumb-controlled lid for single-handed opening and scooping. The lid then becomes the funnel when flipped over, reducing the chance of messy spills.
The Reusable K cups feature a plastic and stainless steel mesh design. A recessed bottom allows the cup to fit in the coffee machine at any orientation, creating an easier fit. They work with several models among different brands and are dishwasher-safe.
The Reusable K Cups for Keurig 2.0 & 1.0 by Delibru Store feature a plastic and stainless steel mesh design. The plastic is BPA-free, and the entire cup is dishwasher-safe. A tight seal around the lid helps prevent leaks and spills.
A recessed bottom makes it easier to fit these K cups into a coffee machine, as this design allows insertion in any orientation. Plus, the mesh bottom maximizes extraction within the recessed design. These dishwasher-safe cups, sold in a four-pack, are specifically designed for several (but not all) Keurig machines.
The Maxware 4 Reusable Refillable Coffee Filters cups are made with plastic and a stainless steel mesh that’s easy to clean, whether hand-washing or using the dishwasher. The angle of the plastic at the basket’s bottom and in the mesh openings help release grounds, consequently coming cleaner than similar models.
These K cups offer excellent brewing and a fine mesh that works with equally fine grounds. However, those who like the finest of grounds may prefer to use a paper filter for even better filtering. They are sold four to a package and are compatible with a number of Keurig machines, though check for compatibility before buying.
FAQs About Your New Reusable K Cup
Reusable K cups are better for the environment yet still offer fast, convenient, single-serve coffee. If you’re new to reusable K cups and want more info, read on for the answers to some common questions.
Q. How much coffee should I put in a reusable K cup?
Reusable K cups generally hold 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee. Some models have more than one fill line to offer two cup size options. However, these varieties are usually only for specific machines.
Q. Do you need filters for reusable K cups?
Paper filters aren’t required. But depending on how fine the coffee is ground, you may have better results using a paper filter in some reusable K cups, as the filters can keep grounds from infiltrating the resulting brew.
Q. How many times can I use a reusable K cup?
Reusable K cups have excellent durability, offering months’—and potentially years’—worth of use.