3 lower cost alternatives to pricey coffee pods

Save money and reduce trash with these K-cup substitutions

Published: November 04, 2014 04:30 PM

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Many people own pod coffeemakers for their convenience, but using the coffee sold in the pod can be inconvenient to your budget. For a cup-a-day drinker, a year’s worth of K-cups costs more than $200. Now there are cheaper alternatives that let people use their own coffee and brew it to their taste. Consumer Reports checked K-cups and three alternatives for cost, convenience, and brewing time, and our experts tasted the coffee that resulted from each.

Cost. In the long run, you’ll save the most with the reusable K-cup adapter. The costs we cite below include one cup of coffee daily brewed with beans bought for an average of $10 per pound.

Convenience. The Keurig K-cup adapter was easiest to use, though you have to wash it between uses. The Simple Cups product was hardest to use: Its lid was especially tough to close.

Brewing time. It will vary with different K-cup machines and serving sizes, but in our tests Simple Cups and EZ-Cup took longer than the K-cup or Keurig K-cup adapter.

Taste. We used identical ground coffee in the K-cup and K-cup alternatives, and our tasters found that the coffee brewed in all four was of similar quality.

Keurig K-cup adapter

Bottom line. Any of the K-cup alternatives will save money. You’ll save the most, and limit trash, with a Keurig K-cup adapter. Here’s the score:

  • K-cup: $48 per box in bulk
    Average cost for one year: bulk, $220; 24 count, $275. Sold with coffee inside; disposable.
  • Simple Cups, $14 for 50
    Average cost for one year: $185. Use your own coffee; disposable cup, filter, and lid.
  • EZ-Cup, $13 plus $7.65 for 50 filters
    Annual cost after initial purchase: $135. Use your own coffee; reusable cup with biodegradable filter.
  • Keurig K-cup adapter, $18 per adapter
    Annual cost after purchase: $80. Use your own coffee; reusable cup and filter.
DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio

Best pod coffeemakers from our tests

DeLonghi scored the top three spots in our tests of pod coffeemakers with the winner being the DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio EDG455T, $130. They use Nescafé-branded pods. Joining DeLonghi on the podium is the Starbucks Verismo 600, $150,  which requires Starbucks Verisimo pods. All four make speedy cups of coffee one after another.

For the lowdown on coffee pods, read the "Cost of single-serve coffee pods adds up." And keep in mind that Consumer Reports expert coffee tasters prefer coffee made in a drip coffeemaker. If you like a more robust brew, consider the Cuisinart Perfec Temp DCC-2800, $100.

—Adapted from The Ultimate Appliance Guide

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