Skip to main content

How to Recycle Keurig K-Cups Using Your Favorite Coffee

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

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.

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!

The Coffee I Use

My current favorite coffee for my refilled Keurig K-cups is the Starbucks 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 the 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 than 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 three different variations, with very little success.

The problem was that each refillable cup 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 three 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.