A One-Cup Coffeemaker — Without the Pod

Pod-type coffeemakers — Keurig and its more elaborate cousins — may represent the ultimate in convenience and style, but they rank pretty low on the environmental-friendliness scale. In fact, the disposable pods have been called “one of the most wasteful products to hit the market since bottled water.”

According to a 2013 study from the National Coffee Association, roughly 13% of the U.S. adult population enjoys a daily dose of coffee made in a single-cup brewer.

When our 12-cup under-cabinet coffeemaker died last May, a little research provided me with an alternative to the pod-type device: the award-winning Hamilton Beach Scoop single-cup coffeemaker. (As far as I know, Hamilton Beach is the only manufacturer that makes a scoop-type coffeemaker.)


The Hamilton Beach Single-Cup Scoop Coffeemaker (photo: Lenore Collins)

Much simpler than the pod style, this coffeemaker uses a metal scoop to hold the coffee grounds. The process couldn’t be simpler:

  • Fill your cup with cold water and pour it into the reservoir.
  • Scoop the grounds from your coffee canister and place the scoop into the machine. (You can also use the scoop to hold a teabag or loose tea leaves.)
  • When the coffee’s brewed, take the scoop out of the machine, dispose of the grounds (into the compost bin, of course), rinse and replace the scoop, and you’re done.

The Hamilton Beach Single-Cup Scoop coffeemaker, in use (Photo: Lenore Collins)

I see a lot of advantages here:

  • You’re saving money, both on the hardware (the scoop-type coffeemaker is significantly less expensive than the pod type) and on the coffee.
  • You’re reducing waste: no disposable pods to throw out or send to a recycler.
  • If you’ve been using refillable pods, you’re avoiding a mess: the scoop is simple to fill and to clean, unlike most refillable pods, and it has a handle, making it easy to remove, even while it’s hot.
  • You’re using fresher water: it hasn’t been sitting in a reservoir.
  • You’re not limited to the kinds of coffee the pod manufacturers want you to buy.
  • If you unplug the coffeemaker when you’re finished using it, you’re saving even more money.
  • Replacement parts are readily available, reasonably priced, and simple to install.

The pod-type coffeemaker has its place, especially if a lot of people are brewing coffee for themselves. But the coffeemakers are expensive, the disposable pods are expensive, and the pods end up in the landfill (although a California-based company is producing a 97% biodegradable pod and is working to make it 100% biodegradable).

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