Making a Keurig coffee maker cheaper & less wasteful

I work part time in an office where a generous soul has provided us with a Keurig coffee maker.

You might have seen these space-age machines, which heat up water so that users can brew a single cup of coffee in moments. They are designed to be used with “K-Cups,” disposable, sealed, plastic cups filled with coffee grounds (or hot cocoa, or tea, or whatever beverage strikes your fancy. Well, not bourbon, although an instant hot toddy could have some appeal). You pop in the K-Cup, put your cup underneath, hit a button, and after a few moments and a noise like a jetliner taking off, you have a hot, fresh beverage prepared just for you.

It’s awesome. It’s deeply seductive.

Sadly, it’s also pretty wasteful. And while it saves a ton of money compared to stopping at Starbucks, buying those little K-Cups gets expensive, too. At my office, we have the extra challenge of not having a sink (except in the bathroom, and I don’t want to wash dishes there).

I searched online and was fortunate to find the EZ Cup to try out, compliments of its manufacturer.

Using the EZ Cup is … easy! You pop off the top, insert the special filter, fill it with coffee grounds, press the top on (that’s the hardest part), put it in the Keurig like a regular K-Cup, and press the brew button.

When you’re finished, you open the EZ Cup, pull out the used filter and compost it, and you’re ready to go next time. No fuss, no muss – the water pressurizes out of the cup and the grounds are packed in their little filter container.

Save money & eliminate garbage

You’ll save a lot of waste. K-Cups (according to the link above) are made from No. 7 plastic, which is a mixture of plastics and not easily recyclable. Not to mention that most people aren’t going to open the cup, compost the grounds, and recycle the cup, even were it possible.

And you’ll save money.

The baseline cost for K-Cups, if you drink 4 per week, would be $84 for a year’s worth of K-Cups, based on buying them 50 at a time for about $21. That’s about 42 cents per cup.

EZ Cup filters are a little expensive, and they are available primarily online at this time. Most online stores sell 50 filters for around $11 or 22 cents each, when you factor in shipping (often about $5 on the $6 cost of the filters!). But the manufacturer reports you can buy filters for $7 for 50 with FREE shipping at their website.  That brings the filters down to 14 cents each. Some sites offer free shipping on larger orders, if you’re buying multiple items.

If you are a good bargain hunter on coffee (finding your java grounds for around $4.50 a pound, as I do at Costco), the grounds to fill your EZ Cup would cost about 10 cents. Folgers coffee is about 13 cents per 10 grams. Coffee that costs $8 per pound would be 19 cents per EZ Cup.

All told, the cost of EZ Cup coffee can be as low as $0.24 per cup (for bargain hunters who don’t pay shipping on filters). That’s 43 percent less than the cost of a K-Cup — and 100% less plastic and non-compostable waste. If you drink four cups a week, you would save $23 in the first year of use (when you buy the EZ Cup) and $36 in the second year.

The company that makes the EZ Cup also makes the “Perfect Pod Holster,” which lets you use any coffee pod in the Keurig. I was not able to try one of these, but if you find a good price on coffee pods, the cost per cup would be about $0.28 – still a lot lower than the K-Cup. In year two you would save $28 compared to buying K-Cups.

The concerns

The EZ Cup raises just a few minor concerns:

  1. If you forget it in the machine, it’s possible an unwitting coworker might throw it away. While I wouldn’t mind sharing, mine is stashed in my cubby for safekeeping. (Yes, we have cubbies, like in preschool.)
  2. It is still made of plastic. The manufacturer states it contains no BPA (I don’t see this printed on the packaging). But of course, the K-Cups are plastic, too.
  3. The filters come packaged in non-recyclable plastic. The company says this is needed to help the filters keep their shape, and they are looking into other methods.
  4. Some online reports state that you need to use two filters to avoid ripping/spilling. I haven’t had this problem. Be sure the filter edges are held in place beneath the lid to contain the grounds.

Have you discovered other ways to make your Keurig more frugal and more eco-friendly? Share your ideas!

Disclosure: I received a free EZ Cup and pack of filters in exchange for writing this review. I received no other compensation. The review is my honest opinion of the product.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Condo Blues October 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm

How does the coffee taste? I read where someone didn’t like how the reusable K cup made the coffee taste. Could they really just not like the coffee they were using in it?

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Cheap Like Me October 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I’ve only tried it using not my favorite coffee (a different brand than I usually drink) … and it tasted fine, considering it’s not my favorite brand of coffee, if that makes sense! It tasted less strong, but it was a milder roast. I didn’t notice any “off” taste, and in fact, it should taste slightly less plastic-y as the water runs through less plastic.

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Jeff Suppon October 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, I’ve been wanting to try the EZ Cup filters because I am sick of the waste the plastic Kcups bring.

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Alisa October 23, 2010 at 6:16 am

We use the reusable filter at our house daily. My hubby is always tracking the k-cup cost so he will be interested in this article. We buy the kcups online through amazon which brings the price down or with a 20% off coupon at bed bath and beyond.

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J Manley September 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm

It would be great if someone would invent a stainless steel pod with lid. Is that possible?

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Cheap Like Me September 30, 2011 at 10:52 am

That *would* be great, wouldn’t it? Anything is possible!

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Windwalker April 17, 2014 at 7:03 am

I think I saw a metal one at Wal Mart, no sure but worth looking into.
I used to get the Kcup paper filters at Wal Mart but it seems
they’re no longer carrying them. None on the shelf and the stocker said she didn’t think they were available any more. I am finding this happening at WM too frequently lately on all sorts of products.

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Julie H. October 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

I had to laugh at your comment that most people won’t open up the K-cups to recycle the grounds and paper filter. I am actually one of the minority it that respect – I actually DO open them up and compost the grounds. My husband desperately wanted the Keurig machine even though I was opposed. He uses it at least 5 times daily so you can imagine how many of these k-cups accumulate each week. I am the one who takes care of composting and reusing these cups even though he gets the coffee. Seems so wasteful to me so I try to do what I can…I think I will try these EZ filters!

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Smaggy November 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Next time you brew a cup, take the K-cup and cut open the foil top and you will see that only a small portion of the K-cup’s grounds actually get wet. I hated this thing and it’s no good in an office with about 50 people all wanting coffee at the same time.

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vacuum coffee makers July 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hi colleagues, pleasant post and good urging commented here, I am genuinely enjoying by these.

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