Conventional coffee pods are bad for the environment because they contribute hugely to global plastic pollution. But do not worry! We are not suggesting that you stop enjoying your daily cup of coffee.
Instead, in this article, we’ll show you the best eco-friendly alternatives to plastic and metal coffee pods. All of them are biodegradable or even compostable. From now on, every time you drink your single-dose coffee, you can be sure that it is not only good for you but also for our environment.
Single-serve coffee capsules have been very popular for many years.
One of the main reasons for their popularity is the fact that they are very convenient because they make the process of preparing coffee much faster and easier.
In the US, they are primarily known as K-Cups, which is a registered trademark owned by the Keurig Dr.Pepper Company. For many years, Keurig used to dominate the North American market, making the K-Cup name almost synonymous with coffee pods in the minds of many Americans and Canadians.
But there are many other big players in the rest of the world, most of them from Europe. For many years, manufacturers like Nespresso, Lavazza, Senseo & Cafissimo have been enjoying double-digit growth rates for their small portions of coffee.
But that convenience comes at a huge cost, one you’re not even aware of.
Don’t be fooled by the misconception that disposable coffee pods are recyclable, which is often actively advertised on the product box.
They are rarely actually recycled because most coffee pods are a tightly bonded mix of plastic and metal. In addition, they contain organic waste (ground coffee).
This confirms Jan Dube of the Department of Environment and Energy in Hamburg, Germany:
They cannot be easily recycled because they mix plastic and aluminum.
Therefore, they cannot be processed in standard recycling plants, but instead require special facilities, of which there are very few.
Also, an average of 6g of coffee in 3g of the wrapper is a really low ratio, especially for something that is only used for a few seconds and then thrown away.
That is why the German city of Hamburg has banned coffee capsules from all government buildings in an attempt to reduce environmental pollution and waste.
Hamburg is not the only place where you can notice a change in awareness about the ecological damage caused by coffee capsules.
So what about all those disposable coffee pods?
It is estimated that 95% of them will go to landfills and will remain there for up to 500 years since neither plastic nor metal is biodegradable.
That’s right, the garbage dump is a best-case scenario. More commonly, however, they end up in nature, in our forests, rivers, and oceans.
Either way, landfills or nature, while they never biodegrade, they do break down into smaller and smaller particles, known as microplastics.
As such, they slowly release their harmful chemicals, contaminate the environment, are ingested by animals, and eventually return to our bodies through the food chain.
The coffee beans and mills themselves are not the problems. Being a natural product, they have always been known to be biodegradable, even compostable.
Made with traditional coffee filters, you can dump the grounds along with the filter into your backyard compost pile (as long as they’re unbleached filters).
Then plastic coffee pods (known as K-Cups in the US) were invented, probably as a direct result of our global culture of convenience.
In any case, those capsules, made of plastic and aluminum, were certainly not made with their environmental impact in mind.
Even the inventor of Keurig seriously regrets his invention due to the amount of garbage it has generated!
Sometimes I feel bad that I invented them
It is very important to take into account the difference between a coffee bag and a coffee capsule.
A bag of coffee is ground coffee packed in its filter.
This makes the coffee bags completely biodegradable since it is only coffee wrapped in a paper filter.
Plus, paper coffee bags aren’t specific to a particular brand or brewing machine, so they don’t force you to buy from just one manufacturer or limit your coffee choices.
In other words, you can freely switch coffee brands while keeping your current machine, or you can stick to your favorite brand of pods but use a different machine to brew them. Those are the advantages of the open, interchangeable system.
On the other hand, coffee capsules are made of plastic or aluminum (or both).
So, unlike coffee bags, coffee capsules do not break down naturally and are therefore not biodegradable.
In addition, you must be very careful when you want to change the brand of coffee or machine. Most capsules are not interchangeable, as the manufacturer tries to keep you on their system.
Fortunately, some manufacturers have recognized the problem and offered environmentally friendly alternatives.
So the choice is not to give up your beloved coffee or continue polluting the environment.
Instead, you can enjoy delicious coffee from sustainable disposable pods or pads that won’t harm the environment.
We now have many brands to choose from and a wide variety of flavors as well.
San Francisco Bay Coffee was one of the first companies to develop reusable K-Cup pod alternatives that used less plastic. They have since improved on this design with this biodegradable capsule.
This pod is 97% biodegradable by weight. The ring, the coffee grounds, the filter, and even the box that holds everything together are all biodegradable. They advise disposing of the mesh filter material and lid, but they come apart fairly easily.
The Rainforest blend of coffee in these pods comes from four different countries: Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Indonesia. The four varieties are masterfully blended to create a unique flavor that mellows.
As a bonus, all of San Francisco Bay Coffee’s coffees are certified Kosher and 100% organic.
Based in Berlin, Germany, Gourmesso has been available in the US since 2014 and has its second location in Miami, Florida. The company offers the largest variety of coffee capsules for Keurig and Nespresso machines.
They are also the only company to offer USDA Organic as well as Fairtrade certified coffee capsules compatible with Nespresso and Keurig machines.
Glorybrew is the name of its most ecological line. These BPI-certified K-Cup pod alternatives are made entirely from bio-based materials and are completely compostable.
The beans are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which means that the coffee is grown according to the highest environmental and social standards of sustainability.
Glorybrew doesn’t use any preservatives, so you don’t need to worry about additive chemicals leaching into your cup.
The Glorybrew variety pack comes in three different roast combinations, ranging from medium to extra dark. If you decide you like one strain over the others, each blend is also sold separately.
If you want to be sure you’re getting the best compostable capsule alternatives, look no further.
They developed the Purpod, which was the first 100% compostable capsule that was also certified as such. Many companies claim to have biodegradable or compostable products, but not many go as far as getting certified.
This decaffeinated coffee is the best of its kind. In addition to being Rainforest Alliance certified, Tayst takes care of the decaffeination process to retain as much flavor as possible in their coffee.
They use a water process instead of a chemical one, so you don’t need to worry about what’s going on in your body. It also helps preserve the natural flavors of the coffee.
It should come as no surprise that the manufacturers of these greener pods have made sure that the packaging is also biodegradable. Just because it’s good for the environment doesn’t mean it’s boring.
You’ll find the contents to be attractively and lovingly wrapped, a good indication of how things work behind the scenes at Tayst.
Any serious coffee drinker will tell you that espresso and coffee are not the same things. Even if you have the option in your coffee maker to make an espresso-sized drink, if you’re using a coffee pod it’s not true espresso.
Enter: Caffe Vergnano. These capsules are made specifically for Nespresso machines to produce the perfect cup of espresso. They are also certified biodegradable, made from 100% arabica beans, and kosher.
The intense flavor of this African-derived espresso is topped off with a rich, full crema. It’s made to sip and enjoy slowly.
When you’re done with your mug, you can stay relaxed knowing that the biodegradable pod won’t cause any harm to the environment, unlike the traditional aluminum or plastic pods it replaces.
If you are looking for a Cuban-style espresso, Gourmet Cubanito is the ideal coffee for you.
These biodegradable capsules are compatible with all Nespresso OriginalLine machines. The pods are not compostable but promise to break down in less than six months.
Unlike many other vendors that allow their product to sit in a warehouse until it is sold, Latin Espresso prides itself on the freshness of its coffee.
The beans are hand-picked, roasted, and ground daily, and bags are packed per order for each customer. This process results in an incredible flavor that is hard to find with any other brand.
There is no reason to continue with the unhealthy pollution and environmental damage caused by plastic and aluminum capsules. As you can see, many alternative manufacturers offer more sustainable biodegradable coffee capsules.
Leading a sustainable lifestyle means wholeheartedly embracing respect for the environment and making a positive impact for people and the planet.Click to read on