Ah, coffee. It’s the foundation of your morning routine; it’s what gets you through the day. The importance of coffee is something we here in the West can all agree on, but the way we drink coffee has changed a lot in the past few decades. This can all be attributed to one invention – K-Cups.
K-Cups were a revolutionary and widely accepted invention in the mid-2000s, but these tiny pods have gotten a lot of flack in recent years as they aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives to K-cup coffee that will still leave you fully satisfied with your single serve cup of joe.
How K-Cup Coffee Came To Be
John Sylvan invented K-Cup coffee in the early 90’s (1). Sylvan first came up with the idea for the Keurig machine and K-Cups in the mid-1980s when he was working as a marketing manager in an office that had terrible tasting coffee (1).
Along with his business partner, Peter Dragone, he started experimenting with single-serve coffee pods and made several unsuccessful prototypes during the early years of their venture (1).
Meetings with venture capitalists went nowhere when the company was first starting out and when money finally did come in, Sylvan began clashing with investors (1). Sylvan was forced out of the company in 1997 and left with a measly $50,000 in 1997 (1). With the investors money, Keurig hired outside companies to improve K-Cup manufacturing and today it is a billion-dollar company (1).
Why John Sylvan Regrets K-Cups
John Sylvan doesn’t feel too proud of his K-Cup invention these days. In fact, he’s downright regretful. Not only does he find these little cups grossly over priced but more importantly, they’re impossible to recycle (2). Given the fact that Sylvan works for a solar company today, his sentiments about the invention aren’t surprising (2).
How K-Cups Affect the Environment
As of 2014, one in three Americans owned a pod-based coffee machine and 9 billion K-Cups were sold (3). Since K-Cups aren’t recyclable or biodegradable, almost all of them end up in landfills (3). If the K-Cups sold in 2014 were lined up end-to-end, they would circle the globe a whopping 10.5 times (3)! It’s safe to say that the K-Cup is an excessively wasteful product. Luckily, people have come to this realization and a lot of substitutes for K-Cups have come out in recent years.
The “Kill the K-Cup” Movement
6 Alternatives to K-Cups
ONECoffee is a 100% commercially certified compostable pod (4). It is organic and pesticide-free to boot (4)! ONECoffee is compatible with Keurig 2.0, so there’s no excuse not to use it if you’re an adamant Keurig user (4).
2. Uncommon Coffee Roasters K-Cup
This is another great alternative to the traditional K-Cup that is 100% compostable and compatible with Keurig 2.0 (5). The package these pods come in are also 100% recyclable (5)! You can still get the same tasty cup of single serve coffee you want with this alternative.
EZ-Cup coffee capsules use compostable paper filters that are much better for the environment (6). These cups are compatible with Keurig 2.0, most Keurig 1.0, and other K-Cup compatible brewing systems (6).
4. FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker
The FlexBrew can brew up your favourite single serve pods as well as make a full pot of coffee the traditional way (7). With this coffee maker, you don’t have to feel guilty about using a non-disposable pod every day. Switch it up a bit!
5. Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System
If it’s the single serve aspect that’s got you hooked on Keurig, worry not. The Ninja Coffee Bar System will still give you your beloved single serving! The only difference is that it’s pod-free and more environmentally friendly (8). It also has a built in frother that is capable of frothing both hot and cold drinks (8)!
6. La Creuset Single-Serve French Press
This high-quality enamelled French press is sized to brew for one (9). It’s extremely durable and yields the robust flavour that every coffee lover wants (9). The French press method is also much less wasteful than K-Cups.
The coffee scene has forever been changed by the invention of K-Cups and it’s unrealistic to expect that people will revert back to the traditional methods of brewing coffee. But if you’re a Keurig user, remember – there are better options out there! Read this next to learn more reasons you should give up your K-Cup habit.
(1) McGinn, D. (2011, August 7). The Buzz Machine. Retrieved from http://archive.boston.com/business/articles/2011/08/07/the_inside_story_of_keurigs_rise_to_a_billion_dollar_coffee_empire/?page=1
(2) Baer, D. (2015, March 3). The Keurig K-Cup’s inventor says he feels bad that he made it – here’s why. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/k-cup-inventor-john-sylvans-regret-2015-3
(3) Hamblin, J. (2015, March 2). A Brewing Problem. The Atlantic Daily. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/
(4) ONECoffee. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://onecoffee.com/
(5) 100% COMPOSTABLE single serve coffee cups. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://uncommoncoffeeroasters.com/product/compostable-ssc/
(6) EZ-Cup 2.0. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.perfectpod.com/products/ez-cup-2
(7) FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.hamiltonbeach.ca/flexbrew%C2%AE-2-way-coffee-maker-49976c.html
(8) Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninjakitchen.com/products/0/all/91/ninja-coffee-bar-single-serve-system/
(9) La Creuset Single-Serve French Press. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/le-creuset-single-serve-french-press/