18 - 2010

Making A Keurig Coffee Maker Cheaper And 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.

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