Reusable K Cup: How to Save Money on Coffee

A few years ago I invested in a reusable K cup. I did this after switching from brewed coffee to a Keurig machine. The reusable and fillable cup was attractive for a number of reasons.

One, K cups on their own can be expensive per serving, even at Costco.

Two, commercial coffee pods use plastic, which I was trying to avoid. So, having a refillable K cup was a more eco-friendly option.

And three, I got tired of emptying the spent pods–coffee grounds in the compost bin, aluminum foil top in the trash–so I could recycle that plastic cup.

I mean, why continue to contribute to the waste stream. I want my coffee and I want to minimize my carbon footprint in the process.

Since then I’ve learned how to brew the perfect cup of coffee at home with my reusable K cup and ground coffee.

Also, with people looking to tighten their spending belts lately, I thought it was a good idea to revisit the idea of the refillable coffee brewing cup that you can use with a Keurig.

save money free coffee

How to use a reusable K cup filter

These refillable cups work exactly like their commercial counterparts as well as a traditional brewed coffee maker. That is, you fill the cup with ground coffee as you might a filter in a regular drip coffee machine.

So, you would remove the lid of this refillable cup, place your ground coffee inside, close the lid and then put it in your Keurig machine.

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After that, the Keurig forces hot water through it. Finally, the coffee drips out into your cup. But instead of a full pot of coffee, you have a single cup.

Note: if you want to save money on coffee, you can buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself. I find that when it comes to the grind size, you want it to be as small as possible. In my opinion, this makes for a better cup of coffee. Then again, I like strong coffee. If, on the other hand, you prefer a weaker cup of coffee, then go with a coarser grind.

How much coffee to put in your fillable the K cup

There is a trick to getting a cup of coffee without grounds spilling into the brewed cup. And this is it: only fill the reusable cup filter basket as high as the stainless steel mesh is.

Any higher and the water may overflow the top and get grounds in your coffee.

Also, I found that with a fuller K cup, the brew cycle didn’t finish as quickly as with a regular K cup. Also, it didn’t always give me the ounces I’d selected on the machine. Yes, I used a measuring cup to check this out when I thought my cup didn’t look full.

Brewing a full cup of coffee

For example, when I selected a 10-ounce cup of coffee, sometimes I’d only get six or eight ounces. This had nothing to do with the size of the cup I was using.

This was how I learned that putting lower amounts of coffee grounds in the refillable cup actually gave me better results.

That is, when I brewed subsequent cups of coffee and kept the grounds level to below the stainless steel mesh line, I got the 10 ounces of coffee I desired.

And it was hot and delicious.

How to clean reusable K cup

It’s really easy to clean a reusable K cup after using it to brew your coffee. One, you can put it on the top rack of your dishwasher.

Or, two, you can rinse it by hand at the sink before filling again.

I have a dish scrubbing brush that I use to hand wash dishes, and it works great in the reusable K cup.

Best ground coffee for a reusable K cup

I’ll admit that Keurig machines don’t make the best coffee on the planet. Even the New York Times agrees with me.

That being said, you can brew a good cup of coffee if you choose the right kind of grounds. And I’ve found that the darkest ground coffee is the best to use with a refillable K cup. 

Costco Kirkland brand ground coffee

Currently, I’m using Kirkland Signature Colombian coffee from Costco. I buy it in three pound cans for about $25. The can says to use about a tablespoon of ground coffee per six ounces brewed.

Since I’m drinking a 10-ounce cup, I’ll use slightly more than that. Either way, one of these three-pound cans of coffee lasts me for months.

That same $25 would have gotten me five cups of coffee at Starbucks. Granted, it would have been more than 10 ounces, but you get the point.

Costco Membership Deal via Groupon

The best deal on a Costco Membership right now is through Groupon. When you sign up, you’ll get your one-year membership plus a $40 Costco Digital Shop Card for free.

In case you didn’t know, the Costco Shop Card is the store’s gift card. You can use it in store or online.

This offer is for new Costco memberships only or for former Costco members whose membership expired more than 18 months ago. So, if you’ve moved, there wasn’t a Costco nearby and you let your membership lapse for more than 18 months, you’re good to go to sign up for this deal again!

Also, you can avoid the lines at your Costco location by signing up for this Groupon Costco deal. This was the crowd at the new Costco in Maine near where I live. Yikes!

lines at costco on opening day
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Terms and Conditions

  • After purchase you’ll receive an email from Costco confirming your membership details. To pick up your membership card, stop by the membership counter at any Costco location and bring a copy of that email with your photo ID. Incentive will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • You’re receiving a One-Year Costco Gold Star Membership
  • A membership card for the Primary Cardholder and one additional Household Card for anyone living at the same address, over the age of 16
  • A $40 Digital Costco Shop Card (valid at Costco locations and
  • Valid only for new members and those whose previous memberships (Primary and Household) have been expired for at least 18 months or more.
  • Please allow up to two hours to receive your confirmation email from Costco. You must have either your Costco or Groupon confirmation email to receive your physical membership card at a Costco location.
  • A physical membership card is not required to shop online or receive your incentives.
  • Incentive includes a $40 Digital Costco Shop Card
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
  • Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the Primary Member at time of sign-up.
  • Not valid for the renewal of an existing Costco membership.
  • To purchase this package, you must be 18 years of age or over, and agree to Costco’s Membership Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • All sales final.
  • $40 Digital Costco Shop Card is not redeemable for cash, except as required by law. Digital Costco Shop Cards are not accepted at Costco Gas Stations, Car Washes, or Food Court Kiosks.

Again, this a Groupon-only deal for a Costco membership.

Other warehouse club memberships

Perhaps you prefer to shop at another warehouse club because it is more convenient to where you live than Costco is. Good news: Both BJs and Sam’s Club have Groupon deals right now for memberships. Plus, both tend to have gas stations where members can get a cheaper price when filling up the gas tank.

How to put the cup in your Keurig or other compatible machine

You’ll notice that any reusable K cup filter pod you buy has an indent on the top, and a notch on the bottom. These are both important for brewing coffee.

One, the indent in the center of the cup is where the needle of the coffee machine would normally pierce the commercial K cup.

So, it’s just there as a reminder to accommodate the needle.

Two, the notch in the bottom helps you line up the cup in the machine.

If you don’t line it up properly, the top won’t close.

And if the top doesn’t close, you can’t brew your coffee.

Another important thing to keep in mind: don’t force the lid of the brewer to close. Someone who was visiting me once did this and guess what? They broke the needle of the Keurig machine. The refillable cup was fine but the machine was ruined. I had to buy a new one.

Reusable K cup compatibility

Keurig has gotten smart about how to incentivize coffee addicts like you and me to buy their commercial pods.

With newer Keurig machines (Keurig 2.0), they’ll only brew when they read a barcode on the K cup.

Don’t have a barcode? No coffee for you!

It’s kind of like my HP Color LaserJet printer.

When I replace the printing cartridges, it checks for the HP barcode to ensure it is genuine ink. If not, it doesn’t print.

Only works with older models of Keurig coffee makers

Anyway, I have an older version of the Keurig coffee machine.

And if you’re looking to try this frugal hack of brewing Keurig coffee, I would suggest ensuring you have an older machine, too.

Off brand Keurig-like machines work with reusable K cups, too.

In fact, the very first time I tried one of these cups, my so-called Keurig brewer was actually made by Mr. Coffee.

On the flipside, if you have a Keurig 2.0 coffee brewer, you won’t be able to employ reusable K cups.

So you’ll have to decide if the long-term savings are better if you buy a new machine, albeit the older version, so you can fill your own cups of coffee.

Or if you’re OK with sticking with the status quo of barcode-enabled K cups.

Saving money with a reusable K cup pod

Back when I was using a traditional coffee brewer and was writing my book Suddenly Frugal, I determined that my morning cup of coffee cost me just 13 cents.

Clearly, that’s a huge savings of buying coffee out at Starbucks ($4) or even Sheetz ($.99).

However, one year my family gifted me with a Keurig machine. It was then that I discovered that my cost of brewing a cup of coffee at home jumped to 50 cents per cup with commercial K cups.

Yes, that’s still cheaper than buying out, but also I did not like the waste.

Coffee costs $20 per gallon

You think gas is expensive?

By the way, while brewing coffee at home won’t make a huge dent in your budget, think of it this way: Starbucks coffee costs, essentially, $20 per gallon.

So if you’re complaining about gas being $5 a gallon, just think about how expensive Starbucks is by the gallon.

Find out how to get free coffee on a food holiday.

Anyway, once I’d invested in a reusable K cup and filled it with ground coffee I bought in bulk at Costco, I brought my cost back down to about $.13. That’s much better.

Where to buy a refillable K cup

Where can you buy one of these refillable K cups? Well, I got mine years ago on Amazon. And you still can. They come two or more to a box.

However, these days, plenty of other retailers are selling reusable pods for brewing Keurig coffee, including Target.

Ironically, even Keurig, maker of the original K cup, is making and selling a Keurig brand reusable filter for its Keurig machines. You can find them online and in stores.

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02/18/2024 09:20 am GMT

Final thoughts on the reusable K cup

So, what do you think? Is a refillable K cup worth it to you?

My only complaint over the years is this: these reusable cups have a flip top. And inevitably, the flip top breaks off.

However, the fact that my one piece cup is now in two pieces doesn’t stop me from continuing to make my Keurig coffee at home.

Sure, lining up the cap with the bottom so it closes properly is a bit of a pain. But, to me, the money saving, the eco-friendliness and the convenience makes it all worthwhile.

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  1. What a fantastic guide to the world of reusable K-Cups! 🌟 Your blog post is an absolute treasure trove of information for coffee enthusiasts seeking a more sustainable brewing experience. Your thorough reviews and comparisons of the “best-reusable-k-cups” on the market showcase your dedication to helping your readers make informed choices.

    We are truly impressed by your in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of each product, as well as your clear explanations of how to use and maintain these reusable gems. Your passion for reducing single-use waste while still enjoying our favorite beverages shines brightly through your writing. Your attention to detail and genuine enthusiasm for this eco-friendly alternative is truly commendable.

    Thank you for being a beacon of sustainability in the world of coffee consumption. Your insights are not only valuable but also inspiring, showing us all that making a positive impact on the environment can be as easy as enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Keep up the exceptional work! ☕🌱

  2. Please note that only Keurig refillable K-cups are recommended. Why, because the k-cup by keriug twists togeter no gasket involved. When you use the other non keurig brands they have a little gasket that trusts me blow out. And you have to re purchase another one. So really how much value are they really? Just a thought. Be careful about which one you buy..

  3. Debbie:

    Good to know. Thanks for posting your comment and your clever idea on making your own refillable k cups!


  4. Those refillable cups do not work in all single cup machines, so make sure you know that before you buy. I got a Keurig one for my Keurig machine and had to take it back because it wouldn’t fit. When researching options on Amazon, many of the refillable brands noted that they did not work with my model. I now reuse the K-cups by taking the foil off, cleaning out the coffee, adding my own coffee and sealing it with my own tin foil. The cups work for at least several more cups of coffee each.

  5. Yes, I believe Newman’s Own has bags of coffee under the Green Mountain Coffee brand. When I run out of what I have now (Eight O’Clock Coffee), I’m going to pick some up, though it is a more expensive brand. But I guess as long as I am saving on the K cups….

    Thanks for posting your comment!


  6. Leah I fill mine with my own coffee too bc I could not justify buying those cups at the store- so expensive plus all that plastic in the environment. Now does Newman make cans of coffee? That I will look in to bc I do feel sometimes the coffee tastes weak coming out of the Keurig. Thanks for the post.