These Biodegradable K-Cups Are The Best: Compostable With Less Plastic

best biodegradable k-cups

Keurig coffee has been the craze since the 1990s. It picked up in 2006 and by 2013, Green Mountain Roasters has sold over $827 million worth of brewers and accessories.

Planning to own a Keurig machine too? To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of using a Keurig brewer.


  • Brewed coffee in an instant, not your 3-in-1 type
  • Hundreds of flavors to choose from, hazelnut, roasted almond, latte, caramel and more
  • Not limited to coffee, can make hot tea, cold tea and iced coffee (when brewed over ice), lemonade, cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate and more
  • Different sizes to choose from, single serve 4 oz to travel size mugs
  • Make coffee on the go
  • No need to program, make coffee in an instant even if you have just woken up
  • Pre-measured coffee, means no mess and no coffee wasted
  • You can choose your heat and strength settings
  • Instant water heating system
  • Quality coffee, inexpensive brew
  • There is a reusable filter you can buy that you can also use with regular coffee
  • Has most options as far as machines and settings over any pod brewer
  • Sealed pods to ensure freshness and quality
  • The new VUE cups are recyclable
  • Simple to use, even your kids can make their own coffee or hot drinks


  • Pods can be expensive
  • Keurig is expensive
  • Can only make a single serve coffee, for most Keurig models
  • Lower-end Keurig models do not offer many features such as brew strength, heat strength and they have smaller water reservoirs
  • Only the new models have the right settings to make iced drinks, the other models it can be done with but the flavor will not be the same
  • Only the VUE can make latte and cappuccino, but are nothing like a real espresso machine
  • K-cups are not recyclable

Make sure to see this post for my take on the best Keurig coffee makers you can buy today.

K-cups and the Environment

K-cups may have been the icon of convenience in the coffee brewing industry. But alongside its success, there is a dark side that lurks in its tracks. Mountains of unrecyclable waste caught the attention of environmentalists. In fact, its creator, John Sylvan, estimated that one K-cup machine creates 10 times more waste than a traditional drip machine.

From the 1990s to 2013, most of the K-cups are non-recyclable. More than 10 billion K-cups had been sold at about 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per K-cup or over 67 million gallons of waste coffee grounds. It’s a lot of waste for valuable compost.

However, all is not lost. There are now recyclable K-cups that you can choose from.

These are the Best Biodegradable K-cups Right Now

Here are the best recyclable K-cups available in the market today.

EKOCUps Organic Coffee

This brand offers 100% organic coffee in 40 count packs. It features fair trade coffee with a strong flavor and sweet, smooth finish. It is recyclable and fits any Keurig machines.

Best features:

  • It has 13 grams of coffee for every K-cup, about 30% more than common single serve cups
  • Enjoy a richer, creamier coffee taste and flavor
  • It is USDA certified, Fair Trade seal and Organic Coffee certification, this is good for vegan, lactose intolerant
  • It uses cool-peel-recycle technology. This allows for easy recycling after the brewing process.
  • Compatible with Keurig K-cup brewer and other single serve coffee make except for Keurig VUE.

Death Wish Coffee

This popular artisan brand offers a special 2 pack of Java single serve capsules. If you love delicious and super strong coffee, this is for you.

Best features:

  • Compatible with Keurig 2.0 brewers
  • Hand-picked coffee beans to provide ultra strong coffee
  • Fair Trade and USDA certified coffee beans

Kona Bean Co.

This prides authentic Kona region coffee, arguably the best coffee in the world.

Best features:

  • Authentic, certified 100% Kona coffee from the Kona coffee region of big island Hawaii
  • Compatible with all Keurig coffee brewers
  • Direct trade coffee

Rasta Bean

Hailed from the beautiful South American island of Jamaica, the Rasta Bean prides its harvest from the majestic hills of the Blue Mountains. It is one of the most delicious coffee known to the world.

Best features:

  • 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee
  • Compatible with Keurig K-cup brewers
  • Kosher certified
  • Fair Trade Organic seal

People’s Organic Coffee

Known for their artisan coffee and fair trade support.

Best features:

  • 100% Fair Trade and USDA Organic certified
  • Single serve in recyclable cups
  • Shade grown and hand picked
  • Medium roast with decadent flavor

Real Good Coffee

Features Sumatran coffee with fruity and herbal hints. An invigorating brew perfect for early morning drink.

Best features:

  • USDA certified organic, dark roast coffee for Keurig K-cups
  • Compatible with Keurig and other single serve brewers

While these K-cups are recyclable, some environmentalists still argue that some K-cups are not 100% recyclable. Since these are a tad expensive than regular, non-recyclable K-cups, are there ways to make K-cups more environment-friendly?

Single-Serve Alternatives for a Better Environment

If you want to use single serve brewers but worry about the environment, you can check out these suggestions from Sustainable America.

  1. Use reusable filters.Keurig’s come with reusable filters. You can opt to use this instead of getting a new K-cup all the time. However, you can only use this for older models. Keurig 2.0 models do not have these features. You can check out EkoBrew and see if it is compatible with your existing machine.
  2. Use biodegradable and compostable K-cups.The Rogers Company came up with OneCup, a K-cup alternative made of 97% biodegradable materials. Canada’s Canterburry Coffee offers compostable K-cups.
  3. Coffee PodsNew Hampshire Coffee has started using 100% compostable coffee pods that work well with their machines.

How to Recycle Used Coffee Grounds

It can be a mess to remove the used coffee grounds from a K-cup, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will your help reduce waste, your home and your garden will also benefit from this added treat.

  • Natural pesticide. Used coffee grounds are effective plant pest repellents. Ants, snails and slugs destroy the natural ecosystem. Not to mention they feed on your plants. If you want to keep these pests at bay, sprinkle used coffee grounds on the soil around your plants.
  • Organic fertilizer. Used coffee grounds are have neutral pH, compared to fresh coffee grounds. After brewing, the acids and oils are extracted from the coffee beans. As such, used grounds have little acid or almost neutral. When mixed with soil, it adds balance to the natural pH level of the soil. Mix your old grounds with dead grass clippings, brown leaves, or dry straw to neutralize some of the acidity, the spread them around your plants.
  • Free compost. If you have no immediate plans to use your coffee ground for gardening, you can add it to your compost pit. Used coffee grounds have a lot of “green” matter that is beneficial in promoting a healthy soil. It adds nitrogen to the soil, too. Composting coffee grounds is as easy as throwing the used coffee grounds onto your compost pile. Used coffee filters can be composted as well.
  • Natural home deodorizer. Place used coffee grounds in a jar and put it inside your refrigerator. It can absorb food odor that permeates the inside of your fridge. Let it sit for two weeks before replacing it.
  • Skin exfoliator. The rough and coarse texture of coffee grounds are effective for exfoliating the skin. Add used grounds to a bit of warm water or your favorite all-natural oil like coconut oil. Rub the mixture on your body and gently exfoliate. Wash with warm water. Since you have used organic coffee grounds, it may still retain some antioxidants that will beneficial for your skin.

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Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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