Coffee capsules were created to facilitate and speed up the process of making coffee. However, being single-use, waste and lack of recycling appeared as a growing concern among its users. Fortunately, reusable coffee capsules have come to stay.
What is a reusable coffee capsule?
A reusable coffee capsule can be used not only once, but several times. These capsules can be refilled with coffee and used over and over again.
Two main reasons for using these capsules are environmental sustainability and cost. Traditional capsules produce a lot of waste as they are thrown away after one use. Also, the true recycling rate of collected disposable capsules is very low. This results in a huge amount of capsules, both aluminum and plastic, ending up in the trash and also polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans, depending on the country.
Reusable capsules, on the other hand, have a very simple working mechanism and are very durable. You can open them yourself and fill them with fresh coffee and use them immediately in your coffee maker. After use, you remove the capsules from the coffee machine, wash them and reuse them.
Types of reusable coffee capsules
As with regular coffee capsules, both the shape and the material depend on the coffee maker to be used. Remember that a capsule cannot be used with just any coffee machine. Such coffee capsules are only compatible with the designated machines of certain brands. Also, you can try the famous Coffee Balls!
Brands like Nespresso do not produce recyclable capsules, because anyone who buys a coffee machine of this kind becomes part of the company’s ecosystem and is expected to contribute to the steady cash flow. We already know this from the past, for example from vacuum cleaner bags.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of recyclable capsules. Each of these capsules is only compatible with certain models and brands of coffee machines. There are capsules for Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Illy, Keurig, Senseo, Lavazza and many others. They differ mainly in design and material.
Each brand has its own coffee machine with certain specifications. Therefore, depending on the coffee machine in which they will be used, capsules are designed accordingly.
There are those that have the shape of a semi-sphere or basket, and others that are more square. Some are even shorter or longer than others and vary in size.
Reusable coffee capsules can be made of different materials. Among the most common are plastic and stainless steel.
Plastic: This is perhaps the most common material for refillable coffee capsules. It’s generally a good choice as long as you make sure the plastic is food safe and BPA-free. However, plastic is sometimes not very heat resistant and not as durable as other materials. On the other hand, the filter in this type of capsule is usually made of stainless steel.
Stainless steel: capsules made of this material are very durable, resistant, and even more hygienic.
The main difference between recyclable coffee capsules and conventional compatible coffee capsules is the material. Conventional capsules are partially made of biodegradable paper or materials that can be recycled. However, they are intended for single use, which means they are disposable. In some cases, recycling is advertised, but then in reality this is only partially implemented. In an article from 2019, I read that this rate is less than 30% for Nespresso.
It is important to know that paper capsules do not function independently, but require a holder. This means that they often act as filters and therefore must be used with a container or special mechanism.
Some things to keep in mind
Although a reusable coffee capsule is technically very easy to use, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Reusable vs. refillable capsules
Although these two systems are often used as synonymous, they are actually different. A coffee capsule can be refillable, but not necessarily reusable, which is related to the material. There are capsules that we can fill with the coffee we want, but they can only be used once, that is, they are disposable. These are usually made of plastic or paper.
On the other hand, a capsule can be reusable and refillable. The idea is that you can use them many times and recharge them with the coffee you choose yourself.
With conventional capsules, this aspect has already been solved. However, if we use a reusable capsule, we must consider the grind of the coffee. What works better and what less?
If the grind is too coarse, the coffee will have less flavor and aroma. On the other hand, if the grind is too fine, it is difficult for the water to seep through the capsule. The result is a very strong drink with coffee residue. To control the grind at home, you need a good coffee grinder. You can also use already ground coffee. However, freshly ground coffee usually taste better.
For reusable capsules, a fine to medium grind is usually recommended. Also, you get a better result if you fill the capsules only a little more than halfway and then slightly press the coffee.
One of the advantages of reusable capsules is that you can use your coffee of choice.
However, it is important to know that traditional capsule brands not only sell the system, but also the quality of the taste. Replicating the exact taste of a regular capsule, such as Nespresso, with a reusable capsule will be very difficult indeed. In the beginning, it will be a process of trial and error until you find the taste you like best.
In terms of time and convenience, the traditional capsules win out over the recyclable capsules. This is because there are fewer steps to perform. Filling and washing the capsules is not necessary with traditional capsules. With coffee beans, you also have to grind the coffee beforehand.
And of course, there are always more potential errors with manual work. It can happen that you are clumsy when refilling the capsules, and instead of putting the coffee into the capsule, you spread it all over the kitchen.
Which coffee machines are the reusable capsules suitable for?
As already mentioned, today there are reusable capsules for almost every coffee machine. This is because many brands have an open system. This means that they work with their brand’s original capsules, compatible capsules, and reusable capsules. As long as they are designed according to that brand’s system.
There are reusable capsules for:
*This is perhaps the brand for which there is the greatest variety, due to the great demand and consumer preference. For many of their models, there are reusable capsules on the market. However, you should always make sure if this is the case because there are models that only allow original capsules.
On the other hand, Nespresso has clarified in its warranty statement that “defects or malfunctions resulting from the use of capsules other than the original Nespresso capsules are not covered by this warranty”. This is not just about warranty coverage, but also about scaring the consumer a bit. After all, they want to motivate customers to use their own very expensive products and to avoid third-party products.
This brand uses a slightly different type of capsule, called the single-dose capsule. It consists of soft paper bags with ground coffee inside. These have a round shape and are flatter.
There are also reusable capsules for the following brands:
- Dolce Gusto
There are NO reusable capsules for:
This brand uses a closed capsule system. This consists of a type of capsule called T-Discs. The Tassimo coffee machines read the barcode on the T-Discs to start making coffee. By means of the barcode, the brand protects itself against third-party products.
What does the market offer? Best reusable coffee capsules
Now that we’ve seen how these capsules work and made some recommendations, let’s take a look at what options are available on the market.
Seal Pod Nespresso reusable capsules
First, let’s take a look at one of the top-rated products on Amazon. This is the Seal Pod reusable capsule. It includes two units, a spoon for filling and pressing the coffee, and 100 self-adhesive caps made of aluminum. To make finding the ideal grind easier, there is also a coffee sample.
Let’s find out more about it:
- The capsules are made of stainless steel. This makes them durable and resistant.
- They are equipped with adhesive caps that increase water pressure as the coffee passes through. The result is a better espresso and more cream.
- You can use your own coffee blend.
- There is a proper spoon for measuring and pressing the coffee.
- Compatible with all Original Line Nespresso coffee machines.
- It comes with two replacement silicone rings.
- Easy to clean.
- The grind should be medium fine so that the coffee does not become too watery.
- For best extraction results, the machine must be properly maintained and cleaned.
- When the coffee is ready, remove the capsule and clean off any remaining adhesive. If it remains on too long, it may stick to the capsule and become more difficult to remove.
Perfect Pod refillable capsules
This capsule model is one of the most commonly used. The brand is known for being one of the first to launch reusable and refillable K-Cup capsules. That is, for Keurig coffee machines.
- The capsules are made of plastic, but the filter is made of stainless steel. They are BPA-free.
- You can fill the capsule with your favorite coffee. You can even make your own blends and have a more varied drink.
- The capsules are compatible with different models of Keurig coffee machines. Some of them are K-Duo/K-Duo Essentials, K-Mini/K-Mini Plus, etc.
- They have an integrated lid, so you don’t have to put a sticker on the lid every time you use them.
- There are 4 units included in the package.
- Dishwasher safe.
Recaps refillable coffee capsules
Recaps are compatible with Dolce Gusto. These capsules are made of 100% BPA-free plastic and are recyclable. They have a stainless steel filter screen so that no ground coffee leaks out. In addition, they are durable. Definitely an economical, easy to use and very practical option.
- Their design allows for an ideal brewing process. From the injection of the water to when the coffee comes out.
- The operation is simple. The capsule has an integrated lid, so you do not need to use adhesives.
- The capsules are compatible with Dolce Gusto coffee machines of the following models: Mini Me, Piccolo, Genio, Esperta and Circolo.
- You can use the ground coffee of your choice and even make your own blends.
- The capsules are not compatible with Nespresso, Starbucks, Dolce Gusto EDG355.
- Use a medium-fine grind.
- Do not fill the capsule completely so that the lid can close properly.
- They are designed to hold approximately 8 grams of coffee.
- The first time you use it, you should find the place where the capsule fits easily. Do not use force.
Perfect Pod ECO Filter Disposable filters
As we have already seen, this type of recyclable capsule is mostly used as a filter. However, they are a very good option for a great-tasting coffee. For many, the drink is tastier when it passes through filters made of this material rather than stainless steel. They are also 100% biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about them polluting the environment.
- Their design and shape are suitable for almost all K-Cup models.
- They are environmentally friendly and biodegradable.
- They provide ideal filtration to avoid coffee sediment in your drink.
- You can use any ground coffee you like. You can even create your own blends for a varied drink.
- The package contains 100 pieces.
- Their use makes the reusable capsules easy to clean.
- They are disposable and can only be used once at a time.
- Must be used with reusable K-Cup capsules.
- Compatible with Keurig coffee machines.
Galapara set of reusable coffee capsules
This type of capsule is the most durable and perfect to use often. They are designed to be compatible with Lavazza. Made of 18/8 stainless steel, they are BPA-free and easy to wash.
- The capsules have an ideal design with a filter that allows the best coffee extraction. So you get a great tasting and aromatic drink.
- The product is made of a very durable material, so you can use it for a long time.
- The capsules are very easy to clean and even dishwasher safe.
- The set has two parts.
- Use your own coffee and make your own combinations. With this capsule you can make all kinds of drinks. From an espresso to an Americano or a latte.
- It includes a spoon and a brush.
- Compatible only with Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie and Lavazza A Modo Mio Espria.
Reusable capsule systems are a good alternative to save costs and also take care of sustainability. Reducing waste is always a good idea. In addition, these systems offer the flexibility to use the coffee you want.
However, some negative points are the additional effort as well as longer processes. Also, in some cases, the preparation of an original capsule coffee cannot be replicated one hundred percent.