*This article has been updated September 2019 for additional information and accuracy.
While we love the convenience and options for single servings of hot beverages, we are more concerned with sustainabilty and improving environemental impact. These manufactures have made recyleable pods and discs. Several have partnered with environmental and fair trade organizations to make sure that their products are responsible. This Wired article sheds some positive light on the use of single-use coffee pods.
Single coffee ‘servings’ are packaged three ways:
K-cups are used by 5 different single-serving coffee makers, the Keurig being the best known. Keurig has developed pods that can be recycled with most garbage services in North America. They’ve partnered with Root Capital and focusing protecting water resources
T-discs are used by the Braun and Bosch (Tassimo) coffee brewers. Tassimo discs are recyclable. They have partnered with the Rainforest Alliance and TerraCycle to improve their own “footprint”.
All of these cups, pods and discs are disposable. Some single-cup automatic coffee brewer manufacturers use coffee ‘servers’ that are unique to them and cannot be used with any other maker. Nespresso is one example; it only works with its proprietary capsules. Once you choose your brewer, you buy the sealed single serving cups, pods, or discs that work with it.
Brewing is easy. Insert the cup or pod into the coffee maker, add water, and press a button. In less than a minute you will have a cup of freshly brewed coffee, decaf, tea or hot chocolate.
Clean up is easy. Just throw the pod away, unless you are using the reusable K-cup, which is refillable and compatible only with Keurig.
Drawbacks of single servings: Your choice of coffee and tea flavors is limited. A single cup of coffee costs more than brewing a pot. The estimate is .25 – .50 a cup. The single serving machines also cost more than regular coffee brewers. Finally, some coffee drinkers feel that the coffee from single serve machines is weaker than from a coffee bar. The Keurig brand has a reputation for brewing a weak cup. Keurig offers a reusable K-cup, however. You fill the K-cup with your own ground coffee and can control the cost per cup by choosing and purchasing your own coffee by the bag, and you can control the strength of the brew.
Benefits of single servings: No measuring, no clean-up, no waste, and everyone gets what they want. I love having a choice of espresso, tea, coffee, decaf or hot chocolate. They are so quick that even if you are serving 8 people, it doesn’t take very long, and everyone has her favorite, fresh cup.
Single Serving Coffee Brewers
We have selected our three favorites from the amazing number of single-cup coffee makers that are available.
Bosch Tassimo T147– Under $180.00
The Tassimo uses T-Discs. Unlike some of its more limited competitors, the Tassimo can brew coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cappuccino, latte or chai tea latte. Starbucks, Maxwell House, and several other lesser-known coffee manufacturers make the T-Discs. They are increasingly easy to find in retail stores or can be ordered on-line.
Keurig K575 – $160.00
The Keurig is the brand you find in most hotel rooms these days. It uses the K-cup. This model offers 4 brew sizes, and it is programmable. It brews only coffee, tea or hot chocolate, but there are many varieties and flavors of each. A unique feature of the Keurig is the reusable “My K-cup” which allows you to use your own ground coffee.
A third option is the Nespresso Lattissima Plus. This machine is an espresso and steams milk for lattes and cappucinos, with adjustable froth volumes. It uses capsules that can be ordered on-line. Under $300.00
Additional more “selective” options:
If tea is your only hot beverage of choice, an electric teakettle might fit the bill. It heats the water very quickly.
The Breville Ikon Tea Kettle boils water in less than 2 minutes. It sits on an electric power base but the kettle itself is cordless which allows you to take it where you need it to brew tea, fix oatmeal, whatever. $79.
Not convinced that these machines aren’t for you? We’ve found a solution for biodegrable coffee on the go. Read about it here;