One out of three households in the United States has a pod-based coffee maker.
However, while pods like plastic K-cups make it convenient to prepare your caffeine fix, they also pose serious environmental problems.
Even the man who invented K-cups expressed his regrets, noting that he did not expect them to become a household name and generate tons of plastic waste.
In recent years, Keurig has been the subject of protests among environmental advocates, noting that it’s high time the company reconsidered the impact of their single-use plastic products.
If you are concerned about the way your coffee-drinking habits impact the environment, it’s time to let go of your regular Keurig K-cups.
Instead, consider more sustainable alternatives. There are already coffee pods made of eco-friendly materials.
Looking for the best biodegradable K-cup? Read on to find out what our top 7 picks are and what makes them such exceptional choices.
Table of Contents
- Our Reviews For The Best Compostable K Cups
- 1. SF Bay Coffee OneCUP Breakfast Blend 80 Ct
- 2. Cameron’s Coffee Single Serve Pods, Kona Blend
- 3. Tayst Defiantly Decaf Coffee Pods
- 4. Faro Roaster’s Blend, Medium Roast Coffee
- 5. Glorybrew The Knight Coffee Pods
- 6. Classic Ethical Bean Coffee
- 7. Onecoffee Organic Breakfast Blend
- 8. Oakland Coffee Works Fourth Wave Blend
- 9. Boyd’s Coffee Single Cup, Hi Rev
- What Makes a K-cup Biodegradable?
- Biodegradable vs. Recyclable K-Cups
- Keurig is Stepping In
- How to Recycle K-Cups
- What to Do With Old K-Cup Pods – 5 Creative Ways to Re-Use Them!
- How to Dispose Compostable/Biodegradable Coffee Pods?
- Final Word
Our Reviews For The Best Compostable K Cups
1. SF Bay Coffee OneCUP Breakfast Blend 80 Ct
San Francisco Bay has gained a reputation as one of the most popular manufacturers of commercially compostable coffee pods and this blend is their bestseller.
It works with Keurig 2.0 and most K-cup compatible coffee brewers, including those from brands like Cuisinart and Bunn.
Its biggest asset is perhaps its flavor, making it possible to provide a gourmet coffee drink in the comfort of your home.
From the first sip, you’ll feel like it has been prepared by an experienced barista minus the effort.
It’s made using beans from Central America. The company takes pride in choosing only beans with superior quality for the best flavor and aroma.
This single-serve coffee is made of 100% Arabica beans, so you can expect a full flavor but without pronounced bitterness.
It’s rich and robust, which makes it perfect for those who crave coffee that’s strong but never overpowering.
Tip: If you want to be able to enjoy more than one flavor, the San Francisco Bay New Variety Pack may be ideal for you. It includes 20 K-cup pods of Hazelnut Crème, 20 K-cups of Donut Shop Blend, 20 K-cup pods of Espresso Roast, and 20 K-cups of Breakfast Blend.
- High-quality Central American beans
- Certified commercially compostable by BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute)
- Rich taste
- Potential clogging problems
2. Cameron’s Coffee Single Serve Pods, Kona Blend
For a coffee blend to be called Kona, it must be made of beans that have been cultivated exclusively in one of the best coffee regions in Hawaii.
With this blend, you can expect a distinct flavor that’s hard to match by coffee from other regions.
The most noticeable thing about this coffee would be the chocolatey and nutty hints in every sip.
The best thing about these pods is the fact that they aren’t made of plastic. Instead, they’re made using a real coffee filter.
This product is certified compostable, but it should be noted that it needs to be processed in an industrial composting facility.
This coffee is made in small batches to make sure that quality is never compromised. Plus, it’s free of allergens and GMOs.
In terms of compatibility, you can use it with Keurig 2.0 brewers.
- Great single-serve technology from Bologna, Italy
- Certified compostable
- Unique flavor
- A bit expensive
3. Tayst Defiantly Decaf Coffee Pods
For a cup of coffee with an exquisite taste that’s also good for the environment, make sure to add this product to your list.
The packaging is 100% biodegradable and compostable, which makes it better compared to traditional K-cups.
It doesn’t contain any plastic parts. These pods will degrade and add nutrients to your soil.
Another reason to choose this product is the fact that it’s Rainforest Alliance-Certified.
The beans used to make this coffee are grown without agrochemicals, resulting in the best possible flavor.
Speaking of flavor, this coffee is deep and dark.
Caffeine has been washed off, so there will be no palpitations or other side effects commonly associated with drinking coffee.
Despite being decaffeinated, you can expect a full flavor.
- 100% compostable and biodegradable coffee pods
- Rainforest Alliance-Certified
- Deep, dark, rich taste
- Not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline Machines
4. Faro Roaster’s Blend, Medium Roast Coffee
This medium-roast coffee comes with a well-balanced flavor for the right amount of sweetness and bitterness in every cup.
It allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds in your drink. It has a fresh aroma and a fruity flavor that’s sure to tickle your taste buds.
Faro Roasting Houses’ coffee products are hand-crafted in small batches by trained people.
They have the eye for great beans, ensuring you will enjoy nothing but the best. Special kettles have also been used in the roasting process.
The lid on each coffee pod is made of compostable materials, mostly paper. Additionally, the ring uses coffee bean skins, while the filter is bio-based.
The combination of these materials shows that this product is indeed good for the environment.
The lid is compatible with Keurig 2.0 brewers.
- Rainforest Alliance-certified
- 100% compostable coffee pods
- Refreshing flavor
- Some find it too strong
5. Glorybrew The Knight Coffee Pods
With these 100% compostable coffee pods, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact as these pods will generate zero waste!
The company takes advantage of an innovative technology that allows them to create packaging that can transform into usable soil within just 8 weeks after its disposal.
Apart from saving the planet, these pods also give your taste buds a treat. They use consciously-sourced beans, meaning, aside from the environment, the company cares for its social impacts and economic sustainability as well.
With the meticulously-selected beans, you can expect nothing but premium flavor and aroma.
This specific version, The Knight, is known for being a dark roast, resulting in a robust and full-bodied caffeine fix.
These coffee pods are compatible with all Keurig K-cup coffee machines.
- Rainforest Alliance-certified
- Full Keurig K-cup compatibility
- Some Keurig 2.0 owners have experienced difficulty using these pods
6. Classic Ethical Bean Coffee
This product’s name alone entices you to choose it, right?
True enough, this is ethical coffee, so you can rest assured that you’re making a responsible choice if you pick it over others.
Its packaging is made of renewable materials, making the pods 100% compostable.
Aside from being eco-friendly, these coffee pods are also organic and FAIRTRADE-certified.
One pack contains 12 classic medium-roast coffee pods. The coffee is made from seasonal Arabica beans that have been sourced from the best plantations in Central and South America. These are places in high altitudes to provide just the right acidity in every cup.
These coffee pods are compatible with all Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 brewers.
- USDA organic
- Not great for backyard composting
7. Onecoffee Organic Breakfast Blend
This coffee is made of 100% USDA Organic Arabica coffee beans, which means you can expect a strong caffeine fix.
It’s made using beans from South America, providing it with a vibrant flavor. The coffee is well-balanced and smooth on the mouth.
Like most of the products mentioned in this article, it’s 100% compostable. It’s also Halal- and Kosher-certified.
The grind size of the coffee is ideal, assuring the perfect extraction.
You can’t see the exact grind because they are housed in a pod, but the company makes sure the grind size is optimized for the best brew.
These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig 2.0 brewers as well as Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart K-cup single-serve coffee makers.
- USDA organic
- Halal- and Kosher-certified
- 100% compostable pods
- Not suitable for backyard composting
8. Oakland Coffee Works Fourth Wave Blend
With certifications from both Vincotte and BPI, you will be happy to know that this is another great option for coffee pods that are certified to be compostable. Nonetheless, take note that the manufacturer explicitly states that the packaging is not for home composting.
The beans are sourced from the best farms in the world. They are from small farmers, allowing the company to make a huge social impact in the lives of those who work to deliver premium coffee to consumers. Most of these farmers are in South and Central America.
More so, the Fourth Wave Blend is made of Arabica beans that have been hand-picked from Honduras and Peru. In terms of flavor, it is rich and smooth, which can be attributed to the fact that it is a medium-dark roast.
The pods are compatible with Keurig and Keurig style machines.
- Certified compostable by Vincotte and BPI
- Rich, smooth-flavored medium-dark roast
- Hand-picked Arabica beans, thus better-tasting coffee
- Compatible with ALL Keurig single-serve brewers
- Very bitter and muddy
9. Boyd’s Coffee Single Cup, Hi Rev
Want to taste a rich coffee with a full flavor that is also good for the environment? This coffee from Boyd’s wraps up our list. Its pods are also 100% compostable, so they do not have to end up as part of the tons of plastic waste.
Aside from being eco-friendly, another good thing about the packaging is how it is packed in a sealed foil pouch, which will allow freshness to be retained. It cannot be penetrated by air and other external elements that could possibly have a negative impact on its taste.
With the construction of the filter pods, the coffee grounds will be completely saturated by water, which will lead to a fuller flavor.
It is compatible with almost any coffee maker that accepts individually-packed coffee pods, except for Keurig 2.0.
- Full-bodied medium-dark roast
- BPI-certified, 100-percent compostable pods
- Smooth-tasting with no bitterness
- Too strong, no matter how much you dilute
- Not compatible with Keurig 2.0
What Makes a K-cup Biodegradable?
As the name implies, these K-cups are made from biodegradable materials, making them a better option if you want to reduce your environmental impact.
When a K-cup is biodegradable, it means the material can be broken down into small components by living microorganisms without causing any harm.
However, this can be quite tricky. While products are labeled as biodegradable, it’s not indicated how many years it will take before they can fully decompose.
K-cups used to be made of #7 plastic, which is not accepted in many recycling facilities, which is why they ended up as plastic waste.
Biodegradable vs. Recyclable K-Cups
For many, it’s easy to get confused by the way products are named.
Some of you might think that recyclable and biodegradable are one and the same when, in fact, there are significant differences between the two.
When you say that a package is recyclable, this means it can be reused in many ways.
The number of times it can be recycled will depend on the materials it’s made from.
In contrast, a biodegradable K-cup means it can break down into small components.
So, which one is better?
Both are good for the environment compared to traditional K-cups.
Recyclable packaging is preferred by many coffee drinkers because you can use it in several different ways.
With biodegradable packaging, there’s a need for a local green waste collection program or a compost pile.
Keurig is Stepping In
For years, Keurig has been the subject of protests among green consumers looking for the eco-friendliest way to enjoy their coffee.
To date, they still don’t have fully biodegradable K-cups.
In 2014, if you placed all the Keurig K-cups next to each other, it would be enough to circle the globe 10.5 times.
Sadly, all of them ended up in landfills since they weren’t recyclable.
The packaging is not sustainable, which makes it easy to understand that it’s indeed killing the planet, and worst, you may be part of it!
It was in the same year when Keurig finally stepped up and expressed their commitment to making their K-cups 100% recyclable by the end of 2020.
The first country to adopt the program is Canada. As of 2018, all K-cups produced in this country are recyclable.
Despite these radical moves, some people believe that it’s too late.
The business model has already proven to be unsustainable in the past. The problem seems to be irreversible.
How to Recycle K-Cups
A lot of people believe that without a proper recycling facility, their K-cups have to end up in the trash.
The truth is, there are many ingenious ways to have your K-cup pods recycled.
Before recycling, the first thing you need to do is clean the K-cups. This is quite easy. Start by opening the lid, and then throw away any remnants, wash, rinse, and dry.
The hardest part would be separating the different parts of the K-cup.
For this part, you can purchase a separator, which will allow you to separate the three layers and recycle them individually as needed.
The coffee grounds and the paper liner can be useful composting materials.
The foil lid, on the other hand, can be combined with other aluminum products. For the plastic part, you can consider having it upcycled instead of recycled.
What to Do With Old K-Cup Pods – 5 Creative Ways to Re-Use Them!
Don’t feel like being another one polluting landfills with heaps of plastic coffee pods? At the same time, recycling is not an option? If yes and yes, then how about being a little creative when it comes to reducing your share of plastic waste? Just read along for some amazing tips and ideas…
1. Jell-O Shots
Aren’t K-cups sized just perfectly as jell-o shot glasses for your social gatherings? And who says you have to drink alcohol in it. For teetotalers, espresso shots can be enjoyed in them too!
2. Painted Cups
You know who loves to paint? Kids! If you’re house has even a single child, then why not keep him/her occupied with painting used K-cups. Coffee is not healthy for children but they can indeed use this plastic container of coffee for showing off their creative side.
3. Storage of Herbs
If you’re someone who enjoys cooking at home, then you might already be aware of the situation of cutting up just too many herbs. These kinds of leftover ingredients are better stored for later than discarded into the bin and wasted. In that case, you can use your old K-cups to store your fresh herbs and then place them into the freezer for later use.
4. Seed Starter
Using plastic cups for germinating seeds – now that sounds like a refreshing, Earth-friendly idea, even though ironic, right? Just add some damp cotton wool with the seeds of your choice, and that’s about it.
5. Light Them Up
I don’t mean burning old K-cups, rather using them as canvas to create decorative strings of lights. Isn’t that the perfect way for making an uninteresting space in your home look visually appealing AND cozy?
It involves wrapping the plastic cup using colorful paper or fabric (you can embellish each K-cup as you like). And then placing the cup over a light bulb on a long string of lights. Just make sure the bulbs are LED, so you know they’re not going to generate excessive heat.
How to Dispose Compostable/Biodegradable Coffee Pods?
Find out the location of the nearest commercial composting facility and then just drive down to it with your fill of green waste.
If you don’t have any such composting facility situated close to where you live, then just discard your used biodegradable K-cups at a landfill. Because of the biodegradable construction itself, these coffee pods degenerate faster in comparison to non-biodegradable, commercial waste.
Even so, the rate of degradation in landfills is not as rapid as one that takes place under proper composting settings.
Be an advocate for a greener, healthier world.
Start by changing the way you enjoy your coffee!
Get rid of the plastic waste and instead consider using the best biodegradable K-cups, including the ones mentioned above. Remember: your morning cup of joe doesn’t have to come at such a steep environmental price.