Cut the K-Cup!

Posted by H.Jennings on 10/17/2018
With K-cups producing (per user) an average of a 6 cubit foot room every year worth of waste, it is worth noting you might not be "wasting" coffee, but you are adding to that Pacific trash pile in grand fashion. I digress. I know most Kcup drinkers don't know that pod is a major drain on our environment. This blog post is about bringing back the French Press, or good ole' 12 cup brewer and reclaiming our sense of leaving the planet better than we found it. (Even if it means a *little* more work on our part).

I am going to start with the "extra" coffee. It is what is left after you have that "one cup" in the morning.

Here is my routine: have the brew basket with the clean filter ready to go the night before (Sunday and Wednesday). I pour the beans into the grinder top and seal it down for the night. Then when my alarm goes off, I stumble into the kitchen (and over my son's giant shoes). I turn on the grinder and dump the fresh ground coffee into the waiting filter. While waiting for the coffee to brew (For-ev-er), I drink a full glass of water, because we are supposed to do that for health. My brain starts to kick into gear. I drink that "one cup" (plus one more for good measure). HOO-RAH! I can do this day! I don't ever (for any reason) leave the coffee maker warmer on. It gets shut off so the coffee can cool quickly.

Once the coffee is cool enough to pour (about 45 minutes), I pour it into a clean, reused Kombucha glass container. I fill it with the lactose free milk, and a drop of vanilla and cinnamon (if I put on my fancy pants). I can usually make three servings from a single pot. Those containers go into the fridge for the next three days. Then I don't have to mess with brewing coffee. Monday and Thursday are brew days. The rest of the week is "enjoy" days. That extra five minutes really does make a big difference. A little bit of planning ahead and I have coffee ready to microwave or throw over ice.

If there happens to be extra coffee after filling my jars, I toss it into my ice cube tray. Frozen coffee over my iced coffee mixture is like heaven at 1330 when you are SO. DONE. with work, but work is not done with you. Your Kcup can't make iced coffee this fast!

Kcups cannot be currently recycled. The plastic being used is #7 (a mix). I have seen some craft projects that reuse the kcups on Pinterest, but that seems like a lot more work than dumping one filter basket.

Large filter baskets (like the ones that hold four cups of coffee or more) are a wealth of easy uses. Toss the grounds in with some jojoba oil for a body scrub. It smells amazing! I try to use it up within about two weeks.

Another great use for coffee grounds is in the compost pile. Even in residential/apartment living, creating a compost pile is super easy. Get a two gallon planter, toss in two weeks worth of coffee grounds and mix in with four quarts of potting soil. Worms can be purchased at fishing stores, or garden store locations. You will want the whole container of worms in there. Add in small amounts of plant waste (i.e. lettuce ends/pieces, banana peels, potato skin, etc.) every few weeks along with bi-weekly watering. Make sure to "stir" the pile with each addition for the first two months. The container can be stored on a deck. If you are in a hot, dry climate, make sure to keep the compost wet and in a shaded location. Once the container is full, and the majority of the waste is composted, plant a small container garden. Lettuce and herbs are the best options if you are looking to do something that won't require a lot of work. Another easy option is carrots, potatoes, and strawberries. These plants love the acid of the coffee grounds and have taken off for me! If there is too much acid (You can buy a soil test kit if you aren't sure), add calcium to the soil to help level out the ph.

Finally, Kcup brewers are notorious for their cleaning issues. With standard brewers, all you need to do is a half cup of vinegar and fill the rest with water and "flush" brew twice to keep the brewer clean, and free of lime-scale buildup. I do the "flush" cleaning every six months. I have never had any issues with mold, or lime buildup with this process.

I am a big fan of big picture time savings. You may save a few minutes in the morning by brewing "only" one cup, but the overall cost in time cleaning (about 20 minutes each month), cost per pound (over $20.00 even for "cheap" coffee), and lack of options for recycling should be enough deterrent to rethink the Kcup. There are much better, healthier options (like a high quality glass french press) for coffee brewing.

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