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Compostable Keurig Pods: How the Coffee Maker Plans to Tackle Its Waste Problem

 Compostable Keurig Pods: How the Coffee Maker Plans to Tackle Its Waste Problem


Keurig put into motion an ambitious plan to tackle single-serve coffee waste this week with the unveiling of the brand’s first-ever 100% compostable coffee pods. The pressed capsules called “K-Rounds” contain no plastic or aluminum, with only a thin cellulose wrapper that holds the compacted coffee.

Watch this: Keurig’s Future System Doesn’t Need Plastic K-Cups

Keurig’s K-Rounds will require the new Alta machine that’s being designed specifically to brew the eco-friendly pods. Both the Keurig Alta and K-Rounds will enter beta testing this year ahead of their potential consumer release in 2025. 

Keurig hit the scene nearly 30 years ago and instantly changed the way many make their morning coffee, but the knock on Keurig pod-based brewers has always been the plastic waste created by the cups. Keurig’s new plant-based K-Rounds will serve as a more sustainable way to brew single-serve coffee with the touch of a button. 

a row of k round compostable pods in a bed of coffee beans a row of k round compostable pods in a bed of coffee beans

The K-Rounds will be available in various sizes and grinds to brew espresso, regular coffee and iced coffee drinks.

David Watsky/CNET

We got to see, touch (and smell) the new K-Rounds alongside the Alta at a launch event in New York. The K-Rounds are densely packed pucks of coffee grounds wrapped in an invisible cellulose coating. While the company is still waiting for its application to move through the system, Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort told those in attendance that they expect the K-Rounds to be 100% certified compostable before they come to market.

K-Rounds come in different grind sizes for specific coffee types

The K-Rounds aren’t just intended to be more sustainable — the proprietary pressed coffee pucks will be more versatile, with pods available in specialty grinds and sizes to brew espresso, regular coffee and iced coffee. K-Rounds will be marked with a code that the special brewer recognizes and uses to determine a proper extraction profile and pressure to get optimal flavor depending on the roast and type of beans.

They brew like regular K-Cups, but without the waste 

Pods are fed into a top chamber of the Keurig Alta much like you would load an existing K-Cup. The new Alta brewer also brews plastic K-Cups via a separate chamber so as not to alienate existing users who use the old pods. 

keurig alta with plastic and compostable pods loaded in the top keurig alta with plastic and compostable pods loaded in the top

The Keurig Alta will brew both the new compostable K-Round and existing plastic K-Cups.

David Watsky/CNET

Yup, you’ll need to buy a new Keurig to brew them

No existing Keurig will be able to brew the new K-Rounds, so you’ll need to buy a new one, the Keurig Alta, in addition to the more expensive, eco-friendly coffee pods. 

Pricing was not yet available for the Alta or K-Rounds, but we’re told the plastic-free pods will be sold at a premium when they do hit the market. They’re also shelf-stable for up to six months. But once a package of pods is opened, the pods are counter-stable for just 30 days before quality begins to deteriorate. 

k round plant based pod cut in half k round plant based pod cut in half

K-Rounds are pressed coffee grounds housed in a compostable casing. 

David Watsky/CNET

Expect the new eco-friendly pods sometime in 2025

pressed coffee pod after use pressed coffee pod after use

Here’s what a compostable K-Round looks like after it’s been brewed.

David Watsky/CNET

Keurig Alta and its line of plant-based K-Rounds pods are set to start beta testing this fall as they gather feedback and insights from retailer and coffee brand partners to refine and optimize the system before launching to the public. The official launch for the K-Rounds and Keurig Alta won’t likely be until 2025. 

In a statement released on Wednesday, Gamgort said, “Thirty years ago, Keurig changed the way consumers brewed coffee, with the introduction of the K-Cup pod single-serve coffee system. Today, we are applying all our expertise to create a revolutionary new system that will redefine how consumers will brew coffee for decades to come.”

four coffee pods on display at the launch event four coffee pods on display at the launch event

Keurigs new K-Round pods will be available in four sizes to accommodate various types of coffee. 

David Watsky/CNET



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