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How to Recycle Keurig K-Cups Using Your Favorite Coffee

Author:

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

A Keurig coffee machine.

A Keurig coffee machine.

Save Money, Protect the Environment, and Get Better Coffee

My wife, Elly, and I love the convenience of our Keurig 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 Keurig 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.

A Recycling Technique

Instead, try recycling the K-cups that you buy! It takes about 30 seconds to clean the cups to get them ready for reuse, then about 30 seconds more to fill the cups with your own favorite coffee, re-cover 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Set the cleaned K-cups aside overnight to dry.
3x3-inch aluminun foil covers.

3x3-inch aluminun foil covers.

Step 2: Cut the Aluminum Foil Covers

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

  1. To make the aluminum foil covers, simply cut 3-inch squares. These will crimp easily, with little wasted foil.
  2. Cut several at a time. That way, when it's time to have a cup of coffee, you'll have some squares made ahead of time, and the whole process will go quickly (approximately 15 to 30 seconds per cup).
A properly filled K-cup.

A properly filled K-cup.

Step 3: Fill 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 I fill the cleaned and dried K-cups to about 1/16 inch from the top. I have a scoop that gives this amount each time, so the process is relatively quick and very easy.

(se 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!

The Coffee I Use

My current favorite coffee for my refilled Keurig K-cups is the Starbuck's French Roast, which I buy in 3-pound 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: Cover and Crimp 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!

  1. Once you have your preferred amount of your favorite coffee in the K-cups, simply center one of your 3x3-inch 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.
  2. 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 to 30 seconds.)
  3. Insert the K-cup into your machine as usual.

Step 5: Align the Cup in the Machine

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

  1. 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.
  2. Within seconds, you will have a delicious cup of coffee at a fraction of the cost of a factory-made cup.

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 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 we have 3 refillable K-cup substitutes sitting unused in our cabinet!

Please Give Us Your Comments and Opinions

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

We particularly love suggestions that are somewhat outside the box.

—Glenn Conant

Questions & Answers

Question: What about the hole in the bottom of the K-cup?

Answer: 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

Mark on August 17, 2020:

What about the hole in the bottom?

Angie on June 14, 2020:

There are 2.0 cheat stickers you can buy in sheets on amazon. They are orange and go at 9:00 on your kcup this fools the 2.0 machine.

Love this idea to reuse the pods! Looking forward to better flavor.

Marta Tetzeli on January 08, 2020:

Like you, I didn’t like a generic refillable K-pod, but recently bought one ($18!) with Keurig brand that said it was the only approved refillable pod. It took a bit of trial & error using the adaptor for our “Plus” model, locking cover on & seeing how machine’s menu changes & working w that, but now it works well & seems more convenient that your method IF one doesn’t mind refilling one at a time, which may not work for all situations

GF on November 30, 2017:

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........

Niki z on October 03, 2017:

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 (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on March 30, 2017:

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

I hadn't thought of that.

Glenn

Glenn (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on March 30, 2017:

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

Glenn

Stamping the Moon on January 13, 2017:

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 (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on December 29, 2016:

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

Gladys Rivera on December 23, 2016:

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

Glenn Co on May 04, 2016:

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.

Kelly on May 04, 2016:

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.

Ginny on May 02, 2016:

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

Candice on April 30, 2016:

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.

Brandy on April 30, 2016:

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

Paul on June 17, 2015:

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.

Moustache on March 26, 2015:

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

Nancy on March 18, 2015:

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.

Mary on March 13, 2015:

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!

Karen on March 01, 2015:

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.

Bobbi Penniman on February 17, 2015:

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.

Confused on February 17, 2015:

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)...

anndee on February 17, 2015:

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

Nathalie on February 17, 2015:

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

Jean on February 17, 2015:

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.

JubiLee on February 09, 2015:

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 (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on January 27, 2015:

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

j on January 10, 2015:

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 on January 04, 2015:

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.

Mark on January 04, 2015:

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.

Dawn on January 04, 2015:

My ? As well what about the bottom hole

Kristy on January 04, 2015:

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

Steph Kajpust from Dollar Bay, Michigan on January 04, 2015:

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

Scott on January 04, 2015:

Can they be recycled with soda and other recyclables

Glenn (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on December 27, 2014:

Irene;

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

Glenn

Glenn (author) from Greater Burlington, Vt on December 27, 2014:

Missy

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

Glenn

Laura on December 23, 2014:

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.

Yvonne on December 17, 2014:

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.

irene on December 16, 2014:

How many times can you do this with recycle Kcup?

Missy on October 09, 2014:

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?