The Best Reusable Coffee K-Cup
K-Cups® lead the pack when it comes to single serve brewing systems, but with over 5 billion k-cups consumed in annually, the resulting waste is starting to add up. Traditional brewing methods use a filter and ground coffee which can be added to the organic pile while single serve plastic cups get thrown in the trash. 5 billion k-cups could encircle the Earth over 5 times! Convenience is important, but these numbers are staggering.
So What's the Alternative?
This week, we tested out 3 major reusable K-Cup brands: Keurig's® My K-Cup®, Solofill® and Ekobrew®. Using a Keurig brewer and All Purpose/Drip Ground Charles' Private Stock coffee, this was a fun exercise with some surprising results.
Chamber Size Misconception
First of all, many blog posts on the Solofill vs. Ekobrew cups falsely claim that the Solofill has a smaller chamber and holds less coffee. This is incorrect! All three cups can hold a maximum of 10.5 grams of ground coffee. However we recommend using 9 grams for all three. This will result in a good tasting brew and ensures the cup is not overloaded.
While all three brands do require rinsing in-between brews, we found the Solofill to be at the bottom of the pack in terms of ease of cleaning. The small recessed groove at the bottom of the cup was a perfect area for coffee grinds to find a home and this made it extra difficult to clean. For avid coffee lovers who use a kitchen scale to measure exact weight every time, this groove also made it much more difficult to weigh as the cup can't stand upright on its own. Both the My K-Cup and Ekobrew fared much better in this area.
Once again, the Solofill didn't match up. The plastic felt rather flimsy compared to the sturdy Ekobrew brand and rugged My K-Cup. However the question was raised on both the Solofill and Ekobrew as to how long the plastic lid would hold up with everyday use…that is going to take a much longer test.
When using 9 grams of All Purpose/Drip Ground coffee, all three cups produced a pleasant brew with almost no discernible difference. Out of 4 cuppers in our kitchen doing a blind taste test, two chose the My K-Cup, while one chose the Ekobrew and one the Solofill.
These reusable cups do not contain a filter so there was a concern with the coffee particulates that build up in the cup. However when compared with standard pre-ground disposable K-Cups, grinding fresh coffee produced a much more flavorful brew without the stale notes we found with the disposables. We will look at other reusable filter-type K-Cups in future posts.
Taking all things into account, we feel that Keurig has done a good job producing their reusable K-Cup. The sturdy plastic will last a lifetime, it is relatively easy to clean, and the water flow is nice ensuring a fast, even brew. At the end of the day however, due to the weight limitation and a general feeling that something was missing, most of us are sticking with our conventional brewing methods.