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Replacing K-Cup®s with reusable coffee pods

07 Aug 2017 | Comments

This post isn’t about electronics or software hacks, but it touches a very important element in those: coffee! ☕️

Infatuated with the convenience of pod-based coffee machines, I’ve owned a Keurig B40 since 2012. Its K-Cups afford easy comparisons to standards like VHS or Android - in the sense that competing systems may have marginal advantages, but the variety of suppliers is hard to beat.

These days, I only hit a coffee shop when I need socialization or internet. But I still have two issues with pods: cost (a pod is cheaper than, say, Starbucks, but still adds up way faster than ground coffee in packs) and pollution.

The later grew a bit on me - to the point that I even considered returning to the Moka pots that used to fulfill my coffee needs back in Brazil - until I discovered reusable coffee pods.

The idea is sound: fill a plastic K-Cup-ish thing with your favorite ground coffee and… that’s pretty much it. The machine won’t tell the difference between that and a “real” pod (unless it’s a Keurig 2.0, but if you own one of those and it isn’t backwards-compatible, hack it or throw it away. Seriously, whoever came with those DRM-filled beasts probably designed them on an Apple /// while drinking New Coke…)

I know: at a first glance it seems the convenience is gone, given you have to properly fill, dispose and wash the little beasts. But you get the hang of it pretty quick, and I personally find it way less cumbersome than espresso machines (which I operated back when I worked in an office), paper filters (also very popular among Brazilian relatives and hipster friends) and the like.

There are several brands around, but given I’m far from being the smartest kid in town (in particular when low on caffeine), I standardized my coffee procedure around Cafe Cup. For the price of a 20-pack K-Cup you can get one of those, so buy to last between wash machine cycles, and you will always have one ready.

(sure, you can hand-wash on a pinch, but I just pile them up in a corner, then empty and lightly rinse all at once when it’s time to put the dishes on the machine)

The most important thing (and half of the reason for writing this post): close the lid very well. If you don’t, coffee will often leak out of the pod, making a watered-down mess. I almost gave up on those pods until I learned the trick: a firm press with the palm your hand before you put the pod on the machine will ensure the water always go through the right place.

Otherwise, follow the advice on the instructions leaflet (poorly scanned below, mostly for my future convenience). In particular: use the measuring spoon (no more, no less - every 4-pack comes with one, so you’ll have plenty); don’t press/tap the coffee inside the pod; wash on top rack.

Regarding the last item: the pods are kept closed by thin rubber bands, which tend to detach on the first few washes. No sweat: just check for non-closing pods as you store them. Lost bands will likely be on the machine’s floor or in its filter. They are easy to re-attach, and stop coming out after a while.

Took me a few weeks get used to the extra work, but I’m happy with the result: still convenient, yet cheaper, near-endlessly-varied and environmentally-responsible coffee!

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, I learned a couple things aboug grinding and avoiding leaks, so check out the new post.

poorly-scanned Cafe Cup instructions