budgeting Cook At Home Frugality

Can K-Cups Be Used More Than Once?

saving money on coffee, k-cup experiment, coffee saving tips
My wife is a coffee drinker, however I am not. Its a strange phenomenon as I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but I cannot stand the taste. Even more strange is the fact that coffee tastes almost exactly how it smells. Despite my lack of love for coffee, I commonly make my wife a cup using her beloved Keurig single cup coffee maker before she comes downstairs in the morning. I know that she prefers her coffee with one cream and one packet of sugar.

Through the years of this routine I’ve asked myself countless times why we use the K-cups that hold the coffee grounds only once. A package of K-cups will cost between $7 and $13 depending upon brand and flavor, so while its not a budget breaker, the morning coffee does account for a sizable portion of our weekly grocery budget.

So I decided to do a blind experiment.

Using K-Cups Twice: The Experiment

I had previously performed a store brand vs brand name blind taste test (in which my wife couldn’t tell the difference), but this time I wanted to have her try a cup made with a brand new K-cup vs a cup of brew made using a second hand K-cup.

Without telling her what I was doing, I made the two cups of coffee putting them in the same style of cup. To each cup of GO juice I added one packet of sugar, and one French vanilla creamer. I stirred both vigorously and told my wife to close her eyes.  She tasted the first one, then the second and said, Yup, you can use them twice.

Apparently she was on to my experiment.

Use K-Cups Twice – You Can’t Tell the Difference!

She took both cups of coffee and sat down on the couch, taking sips between the two. She reiterated, Nope, I can’t tell the difference.  The fact that she seemed to be on to my experiment, and the fact that she continued to take alternating sips seemed to imply that she was trying to convince herself one way or another. But the conclusion is, even if there was a difference it would seem to be quite small.

K-Cups Are a Lot Cheaper than Starbucks Store Prices.

In any event, if you are going to re-use your K-cups, consider getting inexpensive good quality coffee to start with.  At least this way your second cup of coffee will still taste good.  A favorite is the San Francisco Bay OneCup, Fog Chaser – which ranks number 2 in sales on Amazon.com.

Price is important also.  A pack of 80 K-cups retails for something like $29.00.  So, if you buy the 80 pack you are looking at something like .36 cents per cup of coffee.  If you re-use the cups, then your price per cup falls to .18 cents – which is dirt cheap when you compare it to the cost of a small 12 oz. cup of Starbucks coffee – $1.95.

Pretty much if you get your own K-cup coffee, you are getting 5 K-cups for the price of a single cup at a Starbucks store, ten if you reuse the K-cup grounds. That is pretty much an unbeatable deal when you compare it Starbucks store prices.

Maybe reusing a K-cup is frugality gone a bit too extreme, or maybe it’s breaking through the barrier setup by the Keurig marketing department saying we should only use them only once to maximize their sales. However the economics of it are pretty compelling

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About the author

Brock Kernin

21 Comments

  • I tried that also and thought that the second cup was not as strongly flavored as the first. But I love my Keurig even though it is more expensive than buying a 3 pound can of coffee. I don’t have to make a full pot and then toss the unused. One cup in the morning is about all I ever use, so while the K-cups are more expensive, I waste a lot less.

  • @kathy – it’s one of those things that you pay for convenience…..but like you said, you only have to make one cup at a time. We used to have a 4 cup coffee maker, and not only did my wife have to make more coffee than she wanted to drink, but the big can of coffee ended up going bad before we used it all. Thanks for your comment!

  • I used my kcup twice and it taste the same first I hit the large size button and when that’s done I hit the medium size button fits perfect in my coffee mug and tastes great taste just like if I just pressed the large button what they should have is an extra large button but I love this thing it is great

  • @Jay- thanks for sharing your experience with reusing kcups. Of course they will stick to the perspective that they are single serving use only……because the manufacturers make more money that way.

  • @slickjonz – One would think they would figure out a way to completely exhaust the kcup with one use…..that way they could use less product per kcup, and the manufacturer could reduce it’s cost of production!

  • I have a Keurig, but don’t buy K-Cups. Instead, I use a little K-Cup filter basket. It’s reusable, so there’s much less waste. I have several of the baskets, and they have more than paid for themselves in the savings from not buying K-Cups.

    Also, I can buy any type of coffee I want, and even mix them up if I desire. I keep a large empty powdered creamer container into which I dump used coffee grounds. I save that up until it’s nearly full, then dump it into my flower bed, because coffee grounds are good for plants.

  • I too am the only coffee drinker in my household. I also adore my K machine and would not part with it for the world. My husband & I live on his $1100 a month Disability checks so I have
    Learn to cut corners and be very frugal. I bought two of the little refillable pods. Our Walmart has little packets of flavored coffee on a side cap(attached to an endcap) on the coffee aisle. These packets are for 1- eight cup pot of coffee and cost $1.00 each. I usually buy six packets a
    month at $1.00 per packet. I then use these in my DYI pods. Most times I get seven cups per pack.
    So, 6 packs per month X 7 cups per pot = 42 cups per month for $6.00 per month. I do use the large setting and most days only drink one cup.
    The best part, all the yummy flavors. One day I can have Butternut Crunch and the next day have Kona Blend.

  • I also invested in the reusable k-cups (not the Keurig My-K attachment). Much simpler cleanup and no swapping back and forth between the regular attachment and the My-K-cup thingy.

    Anyhow, I try to use coupons and buy bags of coffee when they are on sale and then just fill the reusable k-cup as I go. That is also much less expensive even than reusing single use k-cups. I do splurge once in a while on special blends and cappacino cups that I know I don’t drink as often or just around the holidays.

    Here’s a quick look at the math http://www.wellkeptwallet.com/2013/04/save-money-with-a-refillable-k-cup-for-your-keurig/

  • @Brock – yes. I didn’t mention that, but I have done that. I do like to let the grounds dry out and then I (gently) shake the cup around so that the water doesn’t flow back through the same spot. I don’t know if that really makes a difference, but I like to think it does. I do that also when I re-use the regular cups as well.

  • We also ditched the K-cups in favor of the refillable cups. K-cups just generate so much waste on top of being expensive. It was hard to justify buying them anymore. I buy whole bean coffee and just grind what I need for the day. I haven’t tried using the grounds twice, but I drink mine black so there’s nothing to cover up a decrease in strength or flavor.

  • @Chuck – even if you can’t use it more than once, I’m sure you save a TON of money by using freshly ground coffee beans. And, it’s probably much better coffee!

  • I reuse Keurig coffee sometimes.
    But I use a Clever Coffee Dripper ($16 amazon), which is like a Melita filter holder but lets the coffee steep for as long as you want, like a french press.
    I always rip open the top of the Keurig pods and compost the coffee (the plastic is not recyclable : ( ).
    Sometimes I rip open the top and dump 2 “used” pods into the Clever Dripper, then fill with 200 degree water for 3 minutes. It makes an excellent cup of coffee. I find I need 2 used pods to make a good cup of coffee.
    I will say that once you have the Clever Dripper and a supply of coffee you love, you’ll probably ditch the Keurig machine. I do this at work where we have the machine.

  • This test simply showed the person in question drinks coffee for the flavor enhancements (full packet of sugar + french vanilla creamers) and that is mainly what they taste. Using a k cup for two 8-ounce cups of coffee makes the second extremely watered down.

  • I LIKE weaker coffee and dont want to spend a small fortune on cups. I tried to reuse a BOLD cup 4 times and the coffee was GREAT the 3rd and 4th times (maybe acceptable the 2nd time). The problem is you can clog up the machine somehow. I am experimenting how to stop this. I think you need to rotate the cup to align the puncture holes with the pin but not sure yet.

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