Can I Use My 100% Kona Coffee In A Keurig Or Nespresso Maker?
I must confess, I do not own a Keurig nor a Nespresso machine. I have used pod systems in hotel rooms, Airbnb’s, and have been offered K-cups in the waiting room of my tire center. I am asked almost daily what I think about K-cups and if we make them for our coffee at Greenwell Farms. We do not.
However, I recently read that 33 million households in the United States get their coffee from a single-serve machine every day and many people ask me if it is possible to couple their love for high-quality 100% Kona Coffee and the convenience of their single-serve maker, so I decided to dig into this and see if it was possible. It is with limitations.
At one point, you have probably read that the amount of waste generated by the plastic, aluminum, and paper in K-cups could circle the globe several times. Billions of pods are consumed and discarded each year. You may have also heard that the amount of energy required to create and move those pods around the world leaves a significant impact.
So, the idea of using a reusable pod is quite appealing. Will there be more work involved? Yes. Good coffee requires care. If you like your single-serve machine and don’t mind a little extra effort to help planet Earth then I think I have found a formula for you. Choose the appropriate pod size for your machine and expect to pay $15-30 for a set of long-lasting reusable pods.
What well-trained baristas know that eludes most of the coffee-drinking world is that the science of making a perfect cup of coffee, the balancing of sweetness, bitterness, and acidity, comes from controlling the variables. Water temperature, grind size, brew time, and filter system all change the final product in the cup.
The Specialty Coffee Association recommends water temperatures of 195-205 degrees, with 200 being your starting point. Single-serve machine specifications indicate machine range between 187-197 degrees. Several independent studies on the internet show that the machines favor the 187 degree zone.
Most baristas recommend a brewing time of no less than 2-2.5 minutes. Most K-cups are designed for a one-minute extraction.
The gram weight of coffee in pre-packaged pods can vary between 9-14 grams.
In a single-serve maker, when you are using a reusable pod, what you can really control is the grind size, the amount of coffee, the cup size, and on some machines, there is an option for “strong brew.” Everything else will be automated by the machine.
When brewing 100% Kona Coffee in a reusable pod, this is the recipe we follow:
1. Use high-quality filtered water.
2. Use the “high temperature” water setting if available.
3. Press the “strong” setting button if available.
4. Fresh grind 11 grams of 100% Kona Coffee using a medium-fine grind setting (not super-fine). This will slow down the extraction process without causing the pod to overfill. 11 grams in the absence of a scale is about 2 flat tablespoons of coffee. (2 TBS = 10.6g of coffee)
5. Use a 6oz cup (If not enough make two back-to-back cups for a 12oz)
If you are an avid K-cup user, after reading this you may think to yourself, all of this defeats the purpose of a “put in the pod and press a button coffee maker” and you are probably right.
If you want to get the best flavors from your machine, if you are traveling and want to supply your own coffee, or if you are in an office setting and simply refuse to drink “flavored pods” then please follow these ideas.
It won’t be quite as good as French pressing it or doing a really careful pour-over, but working with what you have you will definitely get a better cup.
Lastly, please note that these recommendations apply to all single-serve makers. If you do not have a single-serve machine, simply purchase the reusable pod for your brand and follow all of the steps outlined above. As always, a little individual trial and error will be called for.
Matt Carter is a retired teacher (1989-2018), part-time musician, farmer, and currently manages Greenwell Farm’s Tour and Retail Store Operations.