Kuerig K-cups: How to Recycle Them Using Your Own Favorite Coffees

Updated on October 4, 2018
Glenn Co profile image

I am from greater Burlington, Vt., where my wife and I spend as much time as possible outdoors.

Save money, protect the enviroment, and get better coffee

My wife, Elly, and I love the convenience of our Kuerig coffee machine, and we love the fact that it's lasted longer than any other coffee machine that we've owned.

The problem is that buying the K-cups that the machine is designed to use is expensive, as the K-cups generally run about $.50 apiece.

The alternative to buying K-cups used to be to buy the Kuerig adapter designed to let you use your own coffees. (The problem with this is that the adapters do not allow you to use enough coffee to get good flavor.)

Try recycling the K-cups that you buy! It takes about 30 sec. to clean the cups to get them ready for reuse, and about 30 sec. to fill the cups with your own favorite coffee, recover them and crimp the aluminum foil covers.

Cleaned and dried k - cups
Cleaned and dried k - cups

Step # 1 - Clean the used K-cups

Simply tear off the cover on the cups, wash them and set them aside to dry.

Hold the used K-cups over a wastebasket, tear off the covers, dump the used coffee grounds into the basket, and tap the cups against the side of the basket to get rid of any stuck on grounds.

Using a kitchen sink sprayer and hot water, quickly spray the inside of the K-cup, until all the grounds stuck to the sides and bottom are removed.

Set the cleaned K-cups aside overnight to dry.

3" x 3" aluminun foil covers
3" x 3" aluminun foil covers

Step # 2 - Cutting Aluminum Foil Covers

When cutting aluminum foil covers for the K-cups, do as many as you can, so you don't have to do them as often.

To make the aluminum foil covers, simply cut 3" squares, which will crimp easily, with little-wasted foil.

Cut several at a time, so that when it's time to have a cup of coffee, you have some squares made ahead of time, and the whole process goes quickly (approx. 15 - 30 sec. per cup).

A properly filled k - cup
A properly filled k - cup

Step # 3 - Filling The K-Cups

If possible, find a spoon or scoop that fills the K-cups as fully as you want each time.

I like a little more intensely flavored coffee, so I grind my beans finer than for a coffee brewer, and fill the cleaned and dried K-cups to about 1/16" from the top.

I have a scoop that gives this amount each time, so the process is relatively quick and very easy.

(Use your favorite blend, find a grind that gives you the flavor intensity that you like, and you'll be amazed at how delicious your coffee can be!)

My current favorite coffee for my refilled Kuerig K-cups is the Starbuck's French Roast, which I buy in 3 lb. bags, in bean form, at Costco, and grind myself. (It is a wonderful, smokey, full-bodied dark roast, with tons of flavor! The cost works out to about $.12 per cup, which is a far cry from the $.50 sale pricing for the pre-packaged K-cups.)

A covered and crimped reused k - cup
A covered and crimped reused k - cup

Step # 4 - Covering And Crimping The K-Cups

This is such an easy process that we don't bother making up K-cups ahead of time. We make them as we use them!

Once you have your preferred amount of your favorite coffee in the k - cups, simply center one of your 3" X 3" pre-cut aluminum foil covers over the k - cup, encircle the cup with your fingers, and push your fingers down, surrounding the cup with the cover.

Now, using your fingers, push the excess aluminum foil upwards towards the rim of the cup, to create a uniform seal around the cup. (As I mentioned in the module about cutting the aluminum foil covers, the whole process of completing a refilled K-cup, from start, to brewing your cup of coffee, will take no more that 15 - 30 secs.)

Insert the K-cup into your machine as usual, and within seconds you will have a delicious cup of coffee at a fraction of the cost of a factory-made cup.

Step #5 Aligning The Cup In The Machine

It's very easy to align the original hole in the bottom of the K-cup with the machine.

Simply line up the hole in the bottom of the K-cup with the arrow in the machine, and you will be able to maintain the K-cups for much longer, and possibly prevent a messy pour from the machine to the cup.

Note: We've Tried 3 Different Refillable Replacement K-Cup Substitutes With No Success

In an attempt to find a refillable K-cup substitute that would allow us to to simply refill it and close a lid, we've tried 3 different variations, with very little success.

The problem that each refillable cup has had, is that they didn't produce a cup of coffee with any flavor to it. (I think that the reason is partly that they don't hold enough coffee, and also that the water runs through them too quickly.)

Ultimately, we keep going back to refilling and recrimping our factory K-cups, and have 3 refillable K-cup substitutes sitting unused in our cabinet!

Please Give Us Our Comments And Opinions

We love constructive comments and suggestions about any of the lenses that we have done. They are what help us become more successful!

We particularly love suggestions that are somewhat outside the box.

- Glenn Conant

Questions & Answers

  • What about the hole in the bottom of the K-cup?

    It doesn't prove to be a problem. Some of my K-cups end up with multiple holes in the bottom and still work fine.

Comments

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    • profile image

      GF 

      10 months ago

      I have a solution for your POD refill issues. I have designed a tool that seals the foil onto the pod top and works great. No electricity, just manual and simple to use.

      Soon to be available. I will post link once ready to market. I have used pods 10-12 times with this tool. Pods still work Great, not grinds in my coffee........

    • profile image

      Niki z 

      12 months ago

      How do you avoid having a cup full of coffee grounds from this? I reused one this morning and the bottom of my cup is full of grounds :-(

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      18 months ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      I really like Yvonne's comments about using the grounds to nourish plants.

      I hadn't thought of that.

      Glenn

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      18 months ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      I've refilled my cups as many as 5 -6 times.

      Glenn

    • profile image

      Stamping the Moon 

      21 months ago

      A circle punch would work great for the top and the bonus is that punching or cutting tin foil helps sharpen what ever you are cutting with.

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      21 months ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      Thanks Gladys!!

      I tried those refillable k-cups, and found that they didn't give me anywhere near the flavor of the cups that I recycled and refilled.

      Have a good New Year!!

      Glenn

    • profile image

      Gladys Rivera 

      22 months ago

      Great info. I will try this soon as my refillable filters don't work.

    • profile image

      Glenn Co 

      2 years ago

      Pick your favorite coffee, and enjoy it at a fraction of what the pre - packaged K-cups go for.

      I was surprised to see that a lot of pre - packaged K-cups are now around $.75 ea., as opposed to the $.05 it costs to do your own. . . . And it keeps the K-cups out in use a lot longer.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      2 years ago

      We love our new Kuerig but like you say the cups are expensive. For me some are too strong. I like the reliable one but I almost threw it away. I'd rather reuse the cups. This is a great idea. Thank you. I will try this.

    • profile image

      Ginny 

      2 years ago

      I love this, I have had the same problem now you have solved it. THANKS!!!!

    • profile image

      Candice 

      2 years ago

      There is a little coffee filter inside each cup that suspends the grounds away from the bottom of the cup. If that wasn't there you would always have grounds in your coffee, not just when using a recycled cup. So the little hole in the bottom won't stop you from being able to refill and reuse your cups.

    • profile image

      Brandy 

      2 years ago

      How can you reuse the kcups after they are used they have a hole in the bottom

    • profile image

      Paul 

      3 years ago

      I have done this many times. I did buy plastic covers for the used Kcup containers that works great, they fit very snugly, and also found that if you grind the coffee in a grinder to a finer grind works great. Make sure you line up bottom hole to the pin on machine.

    • profile image

      Moustache 

      3 years ago

      translate it from French ...

      J'ai une machine Keurig à la maison et j'ai un adapteur que tu mets dans la machine qui the permet d'utiliser un cup que tu remplis a la main pas besoin d'acheter de k-cup juste a remplir le petit cup avec la sorte de café tu a envie

    • profile image

      Nancy 

      3 years ago

      In Keurig 2.0 coffee makers, You can cut a small triangle of a k-cup with a white rim (this is important) and lay it over any k-kup edge before closing the machine lid. The computer reads the white rim with the keurig logo and it will make the cup of coffee.

    • profile image

      Mary 

      3 years ago

      I have the 2.0 Keurig and you can't re-use those. The coffee maker needs to "see" a picture of the carafe (the little circle) in order to start making the coffee. Bummer! Otherwise, I love your idea!

    • profile image

      Karen 

      3 years ago

      I use the CAFE CUPS made by as seen on TV and I love them!!! You get four in a pkg for $9.99. So easy to use and last forever. Very durable. I don't like really strong coffee and most of the k cups are made to be very strong. Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Bobbi Penniman 

      3 years ago

      There is a metal lid (bought a set of 4 from Amazon) that fits over the K-cups so no aluminum foil is needed. I can re use a K-cup a dozen times before the filter finally wears out. The trick is, line the drain hole up each time - just wiggle it until it drops into place - so you don't keep making a new hole in the K-cup. If you do, the coffee will drain too fast making a weaker cup than you might like.

    • profile image

      Confused 

      3 years ago

      Am I the only one who realizes that this is basically the process for a NORMAL coffee maker? So why support a wasteful endeavor (and I assume the cups can't be reused forever)...

    • profile image

      anndee 

      3 years ago

      now you have to waste foil to do this. Just get a refillable filter instead. no waste.

    • profile image

      Nathalie 

      3 years ago

      This will only work for older keurig machines. the new ones read the pod so if you are using this recycle method your 2.0 machine won't work properly

    • profile image

      Jean 

      3 years ago

      ordered and received freedom clip. Used twice, now won't stay clipped. Falls off. I don't like my 2.0 much. It's very loud and I am annoyed I'm unable to use the refillable basket from my old Keurig.

    • profile image

      JubiLee 

      3 years ago

      KeurigHacks.com is apparently a site that has some solutions as well for the 2.0 machines that require an electronic signal from the cup top cover...doesn't sound difficult to override. I appreciate the info on your site tho' Glenn...thx much!

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      3 years ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      I have tried a couple of different replacement cups / filters, and didn't keep either one. They didn't hold enough coffee to produce a flavorful cup of coffee, so it was back to refilling my own.

      Glenn

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      We recycle ours the best we can. Like many other packaging such as Styrofoam cups and trays, not everything is able to be recycled. At least not where we live.

      Also more companies are attempting to create less unrecylable cups.

      We have the pc cups and they are all in an aluminum foil bag. So while not recyclable but assuming reusable.

      The tinfoil cover is small and then there is minimum plastic framework that's recyclable.

      The rest is coffee filter and grinds.both can be compostable if you have one.

    • Brenda Neuls profile image

      Brenda Neuls 

      3 years ago

      For those with the new Keurig 2.0, instead of taping old k-cup covers to your cups, you can order a free "freedom clip" here...

      https://www.gourmet-coffee.com/Keurig-DRM-Freedom-...

      I ordered mine last week. I don't work for this company, I just wanted to share the info.

    • profile image

      Mark 

      3 years ago

      When you are done with the k-cup for the first time. Take the paper cover off dump out the coffee rinse the cup and let it dry. The coffee does not come out of the bottom because the filter is still in there. I have been doing this for years. The only time I buy new ones is when I find a good deal. Wegmans just had store brand coffee for $24 for a case of 72.

    • profile image

      Dawn 

      3 years ago

      My ? As well what about the bottom hole

    • profile image

      Kristy 

      3 years ago

      Or you could buy the reusable filter. :) (cool idea though)

    • Steph Kajpust profile image

      Steph Kajpust 

      3 years ago from Dollar Bay, Michigan

      What about the hole at the bottom of the cups? Do the coffee grounds not come out?

    • profile image

      Scott 

      3 years ago

      Can they be recycled with soda and other recyclables

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      3 years ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      Irene;

      I've reused the K-cups up to 7 or 8 times consistently, with no adverse effects.

      Glenn

    • Glenn Co profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn 

      3 years ago from Greater Burlington, Vt

      Missy

      I believe that this idea will work for the new 2.0 although I'm not positive.

      Glenn

    • profile image

      Laura 

      3 years ago

      For the new 2.0 machine, peel the label off the top cup and use a piece of tape to secure this cover over the refilled cup or other cups. The machine is reading the outside circle only. I hope this makes sense.

    • profile image

      Yvonne 

      3 years ago

      Don't throw coffee away. Save it for your rose bushes or other acid

      loving plants,.

      Also coffee grounds can be used for scrubbing your hands. Makes

      them soft.

    • profile image

      irene 

      3 years ago

      How many times can you do this with recycle Kcup?

    • profile image

      Missy 

      4 years ago

      We have just received the 2.0 and the reusable cups that can be purchased for the old machine does not fit and it will only use the printed rim cups. Will this hack work for the 2.o?

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