Many of us can’t imagine starting the morning without a cup of coffee. The dark flavorings, rich warmth, and zip of caffeine is what convinces us to get out of bed, and welcome the day.
But when we become more aware of our plastic waste, the cups that we use in our Keurig (or other coffee machines) suddenly seem like a huge waste.
The coffee machine has become an almost ubiquitous feature in the American kitchen. Unfortunately, those little cups that make coffee brewing so easy are terrible for the environment. Billions of coffee pods are thrown away every day.
We aren’t suggesting you get rid of your Keurig. In fact, there might be some environmental benefits to the machines, which tend to use less water and energy. Instead, you need to invest in biodegradable coffee pods.
These handy solutions ensure you don’t have to choose between the planet, and your beloved morning cup.
OUR TOP PICK
There’s no plastic involved at all in the pods created by Tayst, one of the leading brands for environmentally friendly coffee pods.
From the mesh filter, to the ring top, to even the inks used on the lids — everything is compostable and eco-friendly.
The ring is even made from a blend of bio resins and coffee chaff.
The Medium Magnificent blend is a fantastic everyday coffee, with a tinge of fruit sweetness and a subtle body.
We also like their decaf, which doesn’t sacrifice flavor as it loses caffeine. Instead, it’s bold, rich, and smooth.
Tayst is a Rainforest Alliance Certified company, so their coffee is sourced ethically.
Tayst provides an impressive range of flavors and roasts, and multiple sizes of packs as well. Easy to use and easy to dispose of, these coffee pods are a wonderful way to start the morning right.
- Pack size - Order 30, 50, 100, or 240 pods, depending on your usage.
- Flavor range - Different levels of roasts, as well as natural flavorings.
- Rainforest Alliance Certified - Ethically sourced coffee.
- Only works in Keurig 2.0 - If you have an older machine, Tayst pods won’t fit.
Cameron’s Coffee uses 100% arabica beans in their compostable pods, for a cup of coffee that’s smooth drinking and better for the environment.
The plant-based materials that are used to create the K-cups can be composted in commercial facilities, and are completely plastic free. Instead of plastic, the pods are made from paper, corn, beets, and even coffee itself.
There’s no bitterness to the Cameron’s Coffee Hawaiian Blend. Roasted to perfection, they have a smooth and complex flavoring, with a sweet hint of chocolate to brighten the finish.
The only sour note to the Hawaiian Blend is that it replaces Cameron’s immensely popular Kona Roast. The Hawaiian Blend is lovely, but can’t compare to the Kona.
The Hawaiian Blend is a light to medium roast, so if you fancy something darker, we recommend their French Roast.
- Flavor range - The roasts and blends from Cameron’s Coffee are diverse, but they also do some unique specialty flavorings.
- 100% compostable - There’s no plastic used at all in the coffee pods.
- Convenient - The pods are very easy to use.
- Not compatible with Keurig 1.0 - These K-Cups can’t be used in older machines.
Order the variety pack from GLORYBREW and experience three fantastic roasts with unique flavoring and fully compostable packaging.
GLORYBREW has three different levels of roast: The Duke, The Knight, and The Noble aka medium roast, dark roast, and extra dark roast.
We’re big fans of the deep and dark flavorings of The Noble, which is an intense coffee sweetened by an undertone of chocolate.
They’re also a Rainforest Alliance Certified company, promising sustainable sourcing of their coffee beans.
And GLORYBREW put just as much care into the packaging as they do into the coffee itself. The pods are made from 100% bio-based materials, and can be composted at an industrial facility.
GLORYBREW is a sustainable alternative to the standard K-Cup, but it’s also an incredible coffee. Try the variety pack, and pick your favorite.
- Rainforest Alliance Certified - Ethically grown and sourced coffee beans.
- Extra dark roast - This rich and flavorful roast is ideal for black coffee drinkers.
- Compatible - Works in any single serve brewer designed to take the traditional K-Cup.
- Limited range - There’s no decaf option, nor a light roast.
San Francisco Bay creates some excellent coffee pods at a reasonable price, making them a top choice for those who like more than one cup a day.
Their bulk packs offer lower prices, and the roasts are rich without becoming bitter. Coffee connoisseurs will love what SF Bay has to offer, but this is crowd pleasing coffee for everyone.
The OneCup by SF Bay is created using paper lidding that’s compatible with the Keurig 2.0, a plant-based ring, and a commercially compostable coffee filter.
San Francisco Bay is a family company, heavily involved in the growing and farming process of the beans themselves.
They can provide plenty of information about the sustainable and ethical farming practices used to ensure you get the best coffee around.
SF Bay does a range of impressive flavors, but it’s their French Roast we like best of all. Dark, and with a hint of smoke, this is a coffee best enjoyed black.
- Organic Blend - The Rainforest blend by SF Bay is organic.
- Compatible - Designed to be used with any machine that accepts the K-Cup.
- Family company - SF Bay are actively involved in the growing and harvesting of the coffee.
- Some batches can potentially sit in warehouses, losing flavor.
Many of us need a good cup of coffee to get us going in the morning, and the Kickstarter roast from Beaniac is sure to do that.
These easy to use pods are backed full of smooth flavor from 100% arabica beans, and completely plant based.
Beaniac is a brand with a lot of certification. They’re BPI certified compostable, certified USDA organic, 30% Rainforest Alliance Certified, and COR certified (that means it’s kosher). So, this is a coffee with plenty of paper to back it up.
When you make yourself a cup of Kickstarter, the first thing you’ll notice is the aroma. All the Beaniac roasts have an aroma that lifts straight out of the cup, drawing you in.
The flavor is just as impressive as the scent. The medium light roast of the Kickstarter is smooth and clean, with a crisp finish.
If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser, then we highly recommend the Daily Dose Donut Shop light roast.
- Organic - All the blends from Beaniac are certified organic by the USDA.
- Rainforest Alliance Certified - Ethically sourced and farmed coffee beans.
- Flavor range - From decaf to caramel to a rich French roast, Beaniac does enough flavors to satisfy all tastes.
- No bulk discounts - Beaniac pods are only sold in boxes of 30, with no discount for multiple orders.
Best Biodegradable K Cups Buying Guide
The five coffee pods we’ve covered above are our personal pick for the best biodegradable K-Cups available. But there are so many more for any coffee connoisseur to try.
Before choosing your next coffee brand to add a kick to your morning, use this buyer's guide to ensure you make the right choice.
Flavor And Roasts
Although we all want to do what we can for the environment, there’s no point in pretending that taste isn’t a primary concern.
If you don’t buy a K-Cup you enjoy the flavoring of, then you’ll never drink it. Instead, you’re more likely to return to your old, plastic-based, coffee capsules.
Luckily, biodegradable coffee cups don’t compromise on taste. And there are enough brands, roasts, and flavorings to ensure you get something just right.
Are They Compatible With Your Keurig?
No one wants to splash out on a fancy new roast only to find that the coffee pod won’t fit properly into the machine.
Not all the biodegradable K-Cups are suitable for all Keurig machines, and many of them won’t work with Nespresso machines, or other branded single-serve coffee machines.
What machines your coffee pod will work with should be displayed upfront on the box or website. Make sure to double-check the exact specifications of your pod, and all its compatibility, before making a purchase.
Fairtrade And Rainforest Alliance
Unethical brands will harvest and grow coffee in a way that’s damaging to both the community and the environment.
Before buying your coffee, whether it’s in an eco pod or a plastic capsule, ensure that the farmers growing the coffee are being well-supported. An easy way to do this is to check for Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification.
We should all be doing whatever we can to support the environment, and that includes choosing coffee harvested sustainably. Brands who do support their farmers are generally upfront about the work they do.
How To Dispose Of The Pods
Compostable, biodegradable, recyclable — they can be surprisingly confusing terms. And if you get the disposal method wrong, then you aren’t doing any good at all.
An easy certification to check for is BPI. BPI, or the Biodegradable Product Institute, provides certification to companies who create products that can be composted in industrial facilities.
Check to see what’s the best way to dispose of your K-Cups. Can they be recycled? Do they need to go to an industrial facility? Or can they be composted at home?
It is worth noting that products cannot be certified for backyard composting, and only for industrial composting facilities.
If something has BPI certification, they have to use a disclaimer saying “Commercially compostable only.
Facilities may not exist in your area.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t decompose in your backyard compost.
Price Per Pack And Unit Count
Price is an important concern, and always check how many pods are in a pack. Bulk deals are a great way to save money, especially if you drink several cups a day.
But don’t just buy the largest amount of K-Cups possible to get a discount. Coffee pods left too long will go stale, and may need to be disposed of. Biodegradable pods also need to be stored carefully, to avoid oxygenation.
Best Biodegradable K Cups - FAQ's
Are K-Cups Environmentally Friendly?
Keurig has made an effort to make their K-Cups more environmentally friendly, but they still have a way to go.
Although popular K-Cup brands such as Green Mountain are recyclable, they’re still made of plastic. And the process of cleaning and washing the pods is complex, so many don’t, and they go straight to the landfill.
Should I Buy Recyclable Or Biodegradable K-Cups?
Both recyclable and biodegradable K-Cups are a better choice for the environment than the original K-Cups.
There’s no clear and obvious choice, but biodegradable cups are generally better because they break down faster if they end up in a landfill.
How Do I Dispose Of Biodegradable Coffee Pods?
Having brewed yourself a cup of coffee, you need to dispose of your coffee pod. The first thing to do is to let it cool down. Then, remove the coffee grounds.
Everything in the cup should now be ready for composting. Take it to an industrial composting facility, if there’s one near you.
Although these pods aren’t intended for home composting, you can give it a try. We recommend cutting the K-Cup small, and being patient. It’s unlikely to biodegrade quickly. Once you’ve cleared away your pod, don’t forget to recycle the grounds!
Coffee grounds can go into your food waste bin, but they can also be used in the garden, in the compost, or even dried and used as a skin scrub.
How Do You Store Biodegradable K-Cups?
A biodegradable K-Cup will need to be kept in an airtight container.
The pod uses a fine mesh filter rather than plastic, and this lets oxygen in, causing the coffee to go stale. Use either an airtight container, or a sealed ziplock bag.
Biodegradable K-Cups are an easy change that can have an impressive impact on the environment. There’s no sacrifice in flavor or quality, and you get a rich cup of coffee with a smaller environmental impact.
Otherwise, try thinking of other ways to make your coffee. A French press may be a longer, and more hands-on, process, but it’s waste free and delicious.
Coffee brewed in a French press is renowned for its full body. Pour over coffee is another choice that can be practically waste free. Apart from the grounds, the only waste is a filter that can be composted.
But if you really love your Keurig, consider a reusable K-Cup! There are plenty of ways to make your morning pick me up a more ethical choice.
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