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Recycling K cups; ideas...

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Showing 1-25 of 81 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 18, 2008 1:42:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2008 2:04:13 PM PDT
We've got a Keurig B60. I have no problem taking my time making my coffee, so I will hand-grind my beans and make a cup in a My K Cup. My DH, however, has to fly out in the mornings for work and can't be bothered. And he uses up three Tully's French Roasts a day (which is costly)! I was looking at the Pod Holster/Podmaker deal, but I can buy 108 K cups for what that solution costs.

Other than that first fine cup of coffee in the morning, I am most motivated by two things, in varying order: (1) saving as much money as possible and (2) cutting down (eliminating!) waste, especially plastic waste.

I started immediately peeling the stuck-down foil lids off the spent K cups, then rinsing them out thoroughly in very hot water before anything has time to light and grow on them.

My first experiment was to use them as little seed-starting pots; using a fine vermiculite or seed-starting mix and putting a bunch of them in one of those well-washed styrofoam meat trays you can't help but buy, I discovered that a little water will stay in the bottom of the K cup, keeping the filter and seed moist a good long while. I haven't tried yet to transplant from one of these little starter pots, but in the vermiculite I'm not anticipating any problems. I'm not sure yet how well these will bottom-water if you just pour water into the tray. But, actually, I think I'd prefer top-watering with only a little water plus some cushioning air remaining underneath the K cup's internal filter.

My second experiment was to actually try to use the old K cups to make coffee. (This after I'd run water through one used K cup to see just how much coffee can be extracted* before it's useless for that purpose. With DH's last leftover K cup each morning, I can make myself a decent cup, and that saves us some money. But the ultimate goal is to be able to make K cups that are easy for him to grab that don't cost so much. The following technique shows some promise.)

The used K cups don't, of course, fit in the My K Cup, so I had to find a way to prevent the grounds from getting washed out and into my cup. Well, those CVS Premium Cotton Rounds for removing makeup, purported to be "100% Pure Cotton," are perfect. Put coffee in the old K cup, lay a cotton round on top as a filter, put it all into the Keurig, close the lid, and brew. That little sharp tooth thing in the Keurig, which normally punches a hole in a K cup foil lid, pushes down on the middle of the cotton round to form a little indentation that helps guide the water through the K cup, not out the sides. When you remove the cotton round, you see the coffee grounds pushed up tight against the sides of the K cup and a little hole in the middle. The rounds are big enough that, even pushed into the K cup, one of them still covers the plastic cup and keeps grounds from pushing out the sides.

I tend to be chemically sensitive and was worried about what additives might be on those cotton rounds that would render them decidedly not food-safe. I've written CVS to ask, but I haven't heard back. If somebody here knows the answer, please let us all know!

Anyway, assuming the answer to the last question is what I want to hear, all I have to do is make up three of my recycled K cups in the evening as part of my get-ready-for-tomorrow routine. I'm hoping that if I line them up by the Keurig and remind DH that the filter tops are not stuck on, he won't scatter coffee grounds all over the kitchen.

(Oh, and if anyone from Keurig is lurking here and knows for a fact that this method will damage their machine, please tell us that, too. But I can't see how it could. It seems to work the same way as it always does, makes the same sounds, drives water through at the same rate, etc.)

Now, let's hear what other people are doing to recycle their K cups!

*When I was in Europe three decades ago, I had a lovely light dessert made by using strong coffee instead of water with unflavored gelatin to make jello; it was served cubed with whipped cream in a margarita glass and was so elegant. You still get coffee after you've run water through the same K cup three or four times, so I think I'm going to try using that weak-coffee water with some xylitol and maybe some other ingredient that will go well with coffee (chocolate ice cream, heavy cream, etc.) to make a similar lighter gelatin dessert. I just hate for anything to go to waste, especially as much as everything costs now!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2008 11:38:18 AM PST
Great call on the seed starting pots! I was looking for a recycling idea for the K-cups at my office and that is a GREAT idea! Something else that you may want to look into is the "My K-cup" option so that you can have the convenience of the one-cup machine without the plastic waste.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2008 3:01:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 30, 2008 3:01:44 PM PST
A. Winograd says:
Please let us know if you hear from CVS..very interesting post. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2009 5:23:28 PM PDT
C. Freeman says:
My grandmother and her friends made coffee jelly--not jello, jelly--as far back as I can remember, which would be the early 1940s. I'm sure they made it long before I came along. Before Jello, loaded with sugar and artificially flavored, came on the market, cooks made jelly--not jello, jelly--out of plain gelatin and lots of liquids besides leftover coffee; fresh orange juice, for example. Very little sugar was added; none in the case of most fruit juices. The jellies--not jellos--were served with custard sauce or heavy cream. Coffee jelly--not jello--with vanilla custard sauce was one of the favorite desserts of my World War II childhood. For reasons I still don't understand, I was not permitted as a young child to drink coffee, the hot beverage, but was permitted to eat coffee jelly for dessert.

Posted on Jul 27, 2009 2:41:10 AM PDT
Well, I wasn't being informed of replies, until just now for some reason, so I didn't know people had replied. First, the CVS thing on the cotton pads...they are not treated with anything.

The coffee jelly sounds fantastic!

And I did wind up getting a few extra filters for My K Cup. I'm living in a household now with three hard-core coffee drinkers, and the expense of buying K cups was getting outrageous. So now everyone knows they have to make their own, so we're saving not only on the coffee but are drinking less coffee because it's harder to just plop in that K cup and make "just one more cup."

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 12:55:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2009 1:08:36 PM PDT
Ann S. says:
Look into my-Kaps. they are little caps that fit on the k-cup. I haven't tried one (just ordered them yesterday), but I've read good reviews on them on the website:, and it is discussed on Single Serve Coffee (

I just got my Keurig Mini brewer yesterday and am having fun with it--I shopped around for a good price. A colleague at work put me onto Keurig, and she was wondering if she could reuse the K-cups to put her own coffee in (because of the expense). I was interested enough to research on the web, and that's how I stumbled across the my-kaps. It looks like a good idea (I don't know if she ever got the my-kaps--I'll have to ask her next time I see her (summer break right now).

After I give the my-Kaps a try. I will re-post.

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 4:45:10 PM PDT
Sue Bee says:
You have got to be kidding! The whole idea of the Keurig coffee maker and K-cups are the convience it provides. I don't even like using the filter because I just don't want to mess with it. If you want to grind your own beans, look for a way to reuse the K-cup (my-kaps),or even use the filter, I think one should buy a MR. Coffee!

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 8:07:46 PM PDT
Sorry, Sue, but your idea of "the whole idea of the Keurig coffee maker and K-cups" is different from mine. The TASTE is what's important to me. The brewing method, with the higher-temperature water under pressure, and the ability to brew just one very good cup instead of a (yuck) full pot of Mr. Coffee coffee is why I bought my Keurig. That said, a real drawback, to me, of the Keurig system is the fact that it's adding so much plastic to the garbage patch in the great Pacific gyre. Just because some of us want the TASTE of Keurig-brewed coffee doesn't mean we subscribe to the whole notion of ease and tossability.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2009 8:45:17 AM PDT
Sue Bee says:
Diane, I as well, am concerned about what we as a nation do not or are unable to recycle. Yes, one little K-cup can and does make a difference. It seems to me we need to put more pressure on the manufacturer of said cups to make them recyclable. However, you did miss my point. I own two Keurig coffee makers (one for home and the new mini for our motor home.) I have also purchased two for my daughters. I was referring to reusing the K-cup and using your own coffee. Oh, and the cotton pad was going a little to far don't you think!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2009 10:23:27 AM PDT
It depends on whether you have seriously painful arthritis or not. I find it easier to flop a cotton pad on top than to screw off and rescrew on the lid of the My K Cup. And people have already been pressuring the manufacturer about the plactic K Cups. They claim they cannot come up with a solution that brews good coffee and doesn't use the plastic. So what happens is people don't buy the K cups. I do hope they'll find a better way to do it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2009 10:28:50 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 13, 2012 8:01:41 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2009 8:17:13 AM PDT
J. Elgie says:
Ok, I have had my Keurig Brewer about a month and spent about a full day trying to "re-use" my K-cups...with a bunch of disasters I finally did it! Guess what...take your used K-cup, remove the foil lid, empty your grounds into a plastic container with a lid and use these grounds to put on your plants...THEN....fill your used K-cup with ground coffee (I grind my own but any will do, even fine ground) about 7/8th full (leave a little room at the top for swelling) and then cover your K-cups with a little square of foil and tightly fit it around the edges of the cup. Line up the hole in the bottom of the cup until you feel it fit...TRUST ME....this brews perfectly! No spilling out the sides and you can re-use this rinsed out K-cup over and over and even the same piece of foil for several brews. I do, dry out my used K-cups overnight and fill them all the next day with fresh coffee. Let me know how this works for you, I am thrilled..I hate to say it but I think we can "beat the system" and cut down on $$ and waste.

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 5:06:58 PM PST
Claire says:
Use for old k-cups (until they make them recyclable or biodegradeable) is as seed sprouting pods - you can even write on the sides which seeds you planted:)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2009 8:00:06 AM PST
Ellen says:
Did you try the my-kaps? Just wondering how they worked. I hate the idea of throwing the cups away instead of being able to recycle.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2009 9:48:28 AM PST
For those of you re-using K-cups.. Buy the little spray bottle of Hydroden-peroxide at Walmarts, after you clean out the grounds and rinse, spray the filter, rinse again and let it air dry. Better safe than sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2009 11:04:27 AM PST
We just bought a Keurig B77 this weekend. Very convenient, very good, albeit expensive, beverages... In terms of recycling, I'm particularly interested in reducing the amount of plastic I'm adding to our landfill. Worrying about the per-cup expense will come later, but for now I feel really uncomfortable with all the plastic waste. With this in mind, I've been dealing with the spent K-cups by peeling off the foil, emptying the dregs, ripping out the filter, and then putting the plastic cup in the recycle bin. However, when I called Keurig to ask about this, their rep said she didn't think the cups could be recycled, even with the filter and foil removed. Does anyone know if this is true? Are these cups simply not recyclable at all?

Posted on Dec 2, 2009 10:50:35 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2009 10:52:20 AM PST
J. Dundas says:
What I do to avoid the K-Cup is put a fine strainer over my cup. In the strainer I place a regular coffee filter, and measure a cup's worth of regular coffee. I let the brewer drop the hot water directly into the coffee and filter. This works miraculously. I also have a coffee can filled with preloaded filters and ground there's no convenience lost, no plastic waste, and the whole filter with grounds can be easily composted. Also, there's no chance of any plastic BPA toxins being released into the coffee as I brew it. PROBLEM SOLVED!

Posted on Dec 2, 2009 8:09:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2009 8:14:39 PM PST
T in SC says:
I checked with my city's recycling program by checking the website. It said "mixed plastic" so I take my k-cups apart. I separate the coffee grounds and the paper filter from the aluminum cover and plastic cup. I put the aluminum cover and plastic cup into the recycle trash can that my city provides then I reuse by mixing coffee grounds in the garden soil.

Posted on Dec 6, 2009 7:29:09 PM PST
Use your old K-Cups in your Keurig reusable filter instead of the gold screen!

I am also concerned with recycling and have read about My-Kaps. I thought this sounded good since I did not enjoy the Kuerig resuable filter with the gold screen filter. When I look at it, I see that the coffee is not as restrained as the insdide of a normal K-cup. The K-Cap at least gets as close as possible and I get to grind a bit of coffee so it would be a bit more fresh and my own brand and style.

Well, I never bought the My-Kap- instead I took the foil of the Emerald's extra bold K-Cup (already used), filled it with the coffee from an unsed Emeralds Extra Bold (for comparison) and stuck it in my Keurig resuable filter instead of using the gold screen.

I am drinking the coffee now and it is a big improvement over the gold screen. Nothing leaked from the sides of the K-cup.

So the coffee is going through the same paper filter out of the small little hole on the bottom, just like a regular K-Cup- kinda. The hole might be a little larger since the actual hole is through the small pin that punctures the bottom of the cup.

My next test will be to removed the foil of a new K-cup and puncture a smaller hole in the bottom of the K-cup, then stick it in the reusable contraption by Keurig without the gold screen. I realize making the hole too small will result in back flow so it will have to be just right- enough to keep the coffee wet long enough to get a strong brew but not over flow.

Incidently, you can almost put the gold screen filter inside a K-Cup without the paper filter and use it in the Keurig resuable filter but its just a bit too hard to close. I never like the gold screen filters in any setting so I will stick with the paper filter.

Anyone else that already has a Keurig reusable filter but like me, didnt like to brew, give it a try. This may be our answer to not having to buy the Kaps and its a Keurig product.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 1:54:44 PM PST
KIMBA says:

After you remove the lid do you take the filter out? Thanks

Posted on Dec 14, 2009 6:40:40 PM PST
B. Flowers says:
I was thinking about buying the Keurig. I have used the little single cup pot from Black and Decker for years. I am the only coffee drinker in my household and like the taste of fresh coffee in every cup. DO you really think this coffee maker is worth the price. Also, what is the difference in the varities of Keurigs and are the more expensive ones that much better than the cheaper ones?

Posted on Dec 16, 2009 12:12:50 AM PST
Coco C says:
If you are worried about throwing out the used k-cups you can rinse them and give them to a kindergarten/preschool teacher at your local school. They are great for glue, glitter, or to make a cute craft, plant a seed, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2009 10:39:21 AM PST
J. Chin says:
I received a Keurig B30 for Christmas. I too am the only regular coffee drinker in the house. The B30 is excellent. I would say "well worth it".

Now if I can only use my old regular coffee filters and my own coffee ... that would be great. The K-Cups are very convenient, but I still have a lot of coffee left from my old coffee maker (which is now off the kitchen counter).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2009 3:25:10 PM PST
I found a way to not even buy the k-cups. I very simple fix for the machines that Keurig makes. If your machine can use the reusable filter, I can make it brew with any coffee you choose, and you can vary the grind to change the strength of the coffee made. I can even make esspresso with autodrip coffee. Its easy.

They dont want you to know about this.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2009 8:21:10 AM PST
T. ORourke says:
What's the trick?
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Participants:  61
Total posts:  81
Initial post:  Mar 18, 2008
Latest post:  Oct 31, 2013

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