Many households use single-serving coffee machines from Keurig and Nespresso. Unfortunately, those pod coffee maker capsules are expensive, resource intensive and wasteful, producing tons of plastic garbage every year. An easy way to make a dent in all of these costs is to invest in reusable cups like Mister Barista and Mycoffeestar. Utopia tested the models for you.
It’s unbelievable, really: When you pack overpriced coffee in colorful, one-use capsules, people seem willing to pay any price. Just consider that a pound of coffee in pod machine capsules rings in at an astonishing $50/lb or more! When we’re talking organic, free trade coffee beans for $12/lb, however, most people are still too cheap to shell out an extra couple bucks.
Coffee Pod Capsules Are Wasteful
Everyone knows coffee pod capsules have a huge impact on the environment: According to a British producer, every minute about 39,000 of these pods are made globally. At the same time, 29,000 end up in landfill sites. That is a lot of aluminium waste!
And yet, more than 40 per cent of US households own an espresso pod machine. If you, too, have a pod machine at home, do not worry: There is a way to make environmentally friendly coffee, without having to buy a new machine.
Reusable Pod Capsules
One simple upgrade can make your pod coffee machine more sustainable. The secret is reusable pod coffee maker capsules from brands like Mister Barista, Soprety, BRBHOM and MyCoffeeStar.
Can shelling out for this small change really pay off? And how! “Reusable coffee pods save you money in the long run,” said Philipp Sommer of Germany’s environmental NGO DUH, “while producing 14 times less packaging waste in comparison to single-use capsules.” This investment is an easy way to save hundreds of dollars and the environment at the same time.
Here’s the catch: Most machine producers will not honor their warranty if the machine is damaged by another company’s pods.
Let’s compare alternative reusable pods for your Nespresso machine.
1. Mister Barista: Cheap Double Functionality
Mister Barista was created in 2014 by two Austrian inventors who sought a reusable alternative to single-use capsules. While the packaging doesn’t list all compatible machines, the website claims compatibility with “all Nespresso models since 2003.”
Mister Barista is composed of a stainless steel capsule and a cap made of metal and silicone. Each order includes two such caps: a red cap for filter coffee, a black cap for espresso. The cap is placed on the filled capsule, then pressed tightly closed before placing the capsule in the machine. Read the fine print to learn that Mister Barista’s caps need to be replaced once or twice per year for best results.
The product also includes a coffee spoon and a plastic holder which enables you to scoop your coffee grounds right into the steel capsule. But the holder seems superfluous: If not secured tightly, the capsule often comes loose. This often leaves you to fish it out of the coffee grounds with damp fingertips from removing the capsule from your machine. Filling the capsule with a teaspoon is more practical.
Instructions for use are included on the reverse of the packaging, but could illustrate more clearly how to place the cap on the capsule to close it tightly. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s quite easy. Mr. Barista scored below original Nespresso capsules in our subjective taste test.
The Mister Barista capsules are less sturdy than those from Mycoffeestar, but still a bargain – especially considering they can also be used with regular coffee.
You can order your Mister Barista directly from the manufacturers or on Amazon**.
Tip: No matter what kind of coffee you’re using, Utopia recommends you go plastic-free and store your coffee in resealable glass jars. This also makes filling the capsules easier.
2. Mycoffeestar: The Screw-Top Reusable Pod
In early 2012, Switzerland’s Mycoffeestar was the first to hit the market with reusable Nespresso pods. They claim their capsules can be used in all Nespresso machines sold since 2003.
What makes Mycoffeestar’s reusable capsules unique is that they’re made entirely of stainless steel and have a screw-top opening for filling and sealing. That means Mycoffeestar’s construction is entirely free of other parts. There are a handful of coffee maker models (with grooves inside the machine) that require an additional silicone ring to prevent leakage; two are included, but we didn’t need either.
Usage instructions are included but can also be found online. The screw top was somewhat difficult to use in practice, especially if it is at all wet, but it is nevertheless the most secure of all the models we tried. Mycoffeestar explicitly recommends using fine or very finely ground coffee and includes a coffee sample in the shipment. The flavor was weaker than original Nespresso capsules, but still fine.
This reusable coffee capsule is particularly robust and built to last. You can order them directly from the manufacturer’s online shop. However shipping them over the Atlantic from Switzerland isn’t exactly sustainable and is relatively expensive. Why not consider one of the following purchase options instead?
Refillable Nespresso Coffee Capsules: Some Additional Options
Here are some additional refillable coffee capsules available for purchase in the United States:
- Capsules from SOPRETY come with a stainless steel screw-on top complete with silicon O rings for sealing, coffee spoon and brush. They are compatible with Nespresso U, CitiZ, Le Cube, Meastria, Lattissima, Inissia, and Concept. (Available on Amazon**)
- “i Cafilas”-Capsules from BRBHOM come with lids containing a steel mesh filter, coffee spoon and brush. They are compatible with Nespresso U, CitiZ, Pixie. Le Cube, Essenza, Maestria, Lattissima, Inissia and Concept. (Available on Amazon**)
Other refillable capsule brands may offer a steel capsule, but not the steel or rubber screw-on filter. Instead, manufacturers will provide you with a limited amount of thin stick-on tops or filters like similar to those used in conventional Nespresso capsules. These are most often made of aluminum and are meant to be thrown away after use. Utopia recommends only those refillable capsules that produce no waste – apart from the spent coffee grounds.
Want more tips about how to minimize waste in your home?
- Cold Brew Coffee: Possibly the most Sustainable Brewing Method
- Golden Milk: Recipe and Health Benefits of Turmeric Latte
- How to Make Chai Tea Latte: 3 Easy Recipes
This article was translated from German into English. You can view the original here: Test: Wiederbefüllbare Nespresso-Kapseln.** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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