Sure we all use Keurig K-cups, but aside from choosing a flavor and popping them into our Keurig machines, do we give much thought to the nuance and mystery behind these wondrous little pods of pure innovation? This article will reveal what you really know (and don’t know) about K-cups, and maybe teach you a thing or two.
- How in the Devil Do K-Cups Work?
Seriously though. I mean, we all know how to slide one into our machines and push a button, but what is inside of that magic little plastic wonder, and how does it make the perfect cup of coffee every time?
Of course there are coffee grounds inside the K-cup, but where the true genius of the design lies is in the built-in filter. Wrapped around the perfectly measured single serving of coffee grounds is a custom-made, little paper filter that wraps around them.
When you snap your Keurig lid closed a few things happen. First, a hollow needle punctures the top of the K-Cup, which allows hot water to be pumped into it. Simultaneously, a hollow needle also pierces the bottom, so the coffee can flow right into your cup.
The filter built into the cup keeps the grounds in place while your perfect cup is brewed right in the K-Cup coffee pods in less than a minute. And that is how a flavored K-cup really works, delivering delicious coffee every time.
- Are Plastics Used in Flavored Coffee K-Cups Harmful?
The official answer from Keurig is that the plastic used in their K-Cup packs emphatically do not contain BPA and are assembled using 100% FDA-approved materials that are considered food safe. Keurig goes on to say that the water paths that feed the water through the Keurig machine itself are also BPA-free, and use food-safe material as well.
The rise for concern that had coffee enthusiasts asking this question came from\ the fact that the process it takes to brew a cup of coffee using a Keurig and a K-Cup uses hot water and involves acid from the coffee (and heat and acid could definitely lead to BPA in some plastic).
No one wants to feel like they're at risk when they brew coffee, and the hard truth is that in any plastic there is a risk of BPA and other chemicals being released when exposed to heat and acid. For those who still want to use their cup pods daily but are wanting to be extra-safe, you can consider getting a stainless steel K-Cup filter.
- Can I Make My Own Flavored Coffee K-Cups?
Sort of... if you’re in a pinch.
One caveat: this isn’t going to be as simple as grabbing a few things lying around the house like McGuyver. This trick requires an additional piece of hardware that can be used with your Keurig coffee maker (but this can be super handy to have around to get more use out of your Keurig).
Enter the “My K-Cup”
This is an official Keurig product that is essentially a reusable coffee filter that acts as a K-Cup pod. This means that you can use any of your delicious, flavored grounds and make whatever your heart desires in your Keurig.
This acts as the ultimate variety pack because you can make everything from green tea to french vanilla to Maxwell House all using the same My K-Cup.
There are a few different models kicking around online (some with free shipping), be certain to get the version that’s compatible with your exact Keurig.
- You Can Only Use Them Once… Right?
So, this is a classic case of “can you” versus “should you.” Technically, in practice, yes you can absolutely run hot water through a K-Cup that you’ve already used before. The official answer is “no, you’re not supposed to,” but let’s talk about the pros and the cons.
The only real pro here is that you’ll save money if you decide to use your K-Cups twice. If you are going to give this a shot there are a couple of ways to make it work a little better (though results may vary).
Use Stronger Roasts
Since you’re going to be using the pod twice, if you use a weak blend, the second time through will essentially be brown water. Use a stronger, darker roast (like our intensely bold JOJO JAVA French Roast Coffee Pods) so the second cup is at least drinkable.
Avoid your lighter roasted Donut House blend on this one, or go with Original Donut Shop or something similar if you are absolutely craving that sort of flavor profile.
Your Keurig can brew 6, 8, and 10-ounce cups of coffee. Another trick to use if you’re going to try to double-dip on your K-Cups is to stick with 6-ounce cups for both uses. Sure that’s two smaller cups of coffee, but they should both taste a little better than if you brew larger ones.
Some Keurig users will use K-Cups twice to stretch their boxes further. This makes it a little easier on the wallet, and more justifiable to take a trip through their favorite drive-thru to treat themselves to a Starbucks, Dunkin, etc.
Remember that caramel vanilla K-Cup you had earlier? Well on the second run-through the 'ol machine, it's going to be way less caramel-ey and vanilla-ey.
As mentioned, the official answer is that you aren’t supposed to use your K-Cup twice, so we don’t recommend it-- if you can even get it to work. One issue that can also arise is that your Keurig doesn’t recognize the coffee pod on the second use because it’s already punctured.
- Are K-Cups Really More Expensive?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes it depends.
If you’re talking about ground coffee, K-Cups can be up to 5 times or more expensive. But, that doesn’t count the number of old pots of ground coffee that are poured out once they become stale, or are burned from sitting on the warmer too long.
Also, if you're brewing delicious, fresh cups of coffee using K-Cups each day, you’re much more likely to stave off cravings and fight the temptation of visiting local coffee shops (which will definitely save you money in the long run).
Enjoy Some Amazing Flavored-K-Cups
Now that you’ve been educated on the little-known facts surrounding flavored K-Cups, you know more than the average Keurig user. It’s time to dive into some of our amazing coffee.
You'll say goodbye to Gloria Jean, Green Mountain Coffee, or any other brands.
We're excited to be your new favorite. Shop now.
Written by: Tim Kearney