Plastic Alternatives: Eco-Friendly Coffee Pods

Every month, an estimated 30,000 coffee pods are sent to landfills around the world. These little plastic cups take over 500 years to decompose and leave behind harmful residue from the synthetic materials in them.

In addition to the massive amounts of waste they generate, the plastic production process that creates these pods emits harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Luckily, as the world becomes more environmentally conscious, new alternatives for coffee pods and “k-cups” are becoming available every day. In this blog, we explore five of the best eco-friendly alternatives to plastic coffee pods that give you the best coffee at the best price and leave behind no harmful waste. 

Read on to learn how we chose our eco-friendly k-cups, or jump to our recommendations.

Choosing the Best Alternatives

We kept several criteria in mind when searching the market for the best eco-friendly coffee pods. All of the options we’ve chosen are made with 100% compostable material and obtain their coffee from ethical, sustainable practices. And of course, as all coffee lovers need, these offer great-tasting coffee!

Alternative Materials

As plastic coffee pods fill landfills and waterways with harmful, non-biodegradable plastics, it’s important to switch to a material that will minimize waste as much as possible. All of our top picks are made with material that is biodegradable either at home or in industrial composting facilities.

Our compostable choices include options that are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), meaning they will biodegrade in a commercial facility without leaving behind harmful residue.

We chose eco-friendly coffee pods made of:

  • Plant-based papers – this material typically consists of paper pulp or sugar cane.
  • PHA polyester – PHA is a synthetic plastic that is naturally broken down by microorganisms and leaves behind no harmful chemicals.
  • PLA plastic – this non-synthetic plastic is derived from plant matter like sugar cane or corn starch.

Make sure you carefully read the packaging to know how to compost your coffee pods!


Although biodegradable, some plant-based products might contain substances that pose a risk to environmental and human health. Our selected products are free of harmful chemicals such as:

Social Responsibility

Coffee is notorious for being ethically irresponsible and environmentally detrimental. That’s why we only suggest brands that support farmers, sustainable production, and ethical treatment of their workers in every step of their supply chain.


As many coffee lovers would argue, taste is the most important part! All of our selections come with a variety of flavors and roasts to fit your taste.

Best Eco-Friendly Coffee Pods

Here are our top five picks for eco-friendly k-cups, organized by material.


  1. Glorybew
  2. Ethical Bean Coffee
  3. Halo


  1. Tayst Coffee Roasters


  1. Grind

Top Picks

  • Most Affordable: Tayst Coffee Roasters
  • Most Variety: Halo
  • Best Overall: Tayst Coffee Roasters

Plant-Based Papers

Plant-based k-cups come in a variety of materials. Common bases for the pod include paper pulp, sugar cane, or even coffee bean skins! These are biodegradable materials that can be composted either in at-home composting bins or in commercial composting facilities. Make sure to check the packaging to know exactly how to dispose of these coffee pods.

1. Glorybrew – Compostable Coffee Pods

Glorybrew - eco friendly coffee pods
Source: Joselin/Amazon
  • Material: Bio-based paper
  • BPI standard certified? Yes
  • Current price: $9.99 per pack of 12 pods ($0.83 per pod)
  • Keurig compatible? Yes
  • Get this product: Amazon

Gourmesso’s Glorybrew compostable k-cups come in several different roasts and are completely compostable at industrial facilities within 12 weeks. They ensure social and environmental responsibility in their farms through the Rainforest Certification, and their USDA-certified organic coffee pods are compatible with Nespresso machines as well.

We’ve noticed that this coffee is relatively weak compared to other brands, so fans of strong coffee may want to look elsewhere.


  • Rainforest Certified, meaning that all farms that produce this coffee meet the standards for environmental, social, and economic standards of sustainability
  • One tree is planted for every order when you purchase from Gourmesso’s website
  • Offers eco-friendly coffee pods that are Nespresso-compatible


  • Not backyard compostable; pods must be sent to a commercial facility
  • Limited options for flavors and roast
  • No options for decaf k-cups

Looking for a different flavor of this coffee pod? Glorybrew also comes in an extra dark roast flavor.

2. Ethical Bean Coffee – Organic K-Cup Coffee Pods

Ethical Bean Coffee - eco friendly coffee pods
Source: Amazon
  • Material: Bio-based paper
  • BPI standard certified? Yes
  • Current price: $10.99 per pack of 12 pods ($0.92 per pod)
  • Keurig compatible? Yes
  • Get this product: Amazon

Just as the name implies, Ethical Bean Coffee is produced with social responsibility in mind. Their coffee is 100% certified organic and fair-trade, and they use 100% renewable energy for their head roastery and vehicle fleet.

Their Terracycling recycling program repurposes used coffee bags of any brand, which are traditionally non-recyclable. This helps minimize the plastic waste from coffee bags that are still behind in sustainability.


  • The Trace Your Beans scanner on every box tells you exactly where your coffee came from and who roasted it
  • Subscribers to Ethical Bean Coffee can accumulate rewards points that help support a non-profit organization of your choice


  • Coffee pods may not be compatible with coffee machines aside from Keurig
  • Coffee tends to be more bitter than other brands, which may be a deterrent for those of us who like it sweet
  • Pods come in a sealed plastic bag to keep them fresh, but the bag is unfortunately not made of sustainable material (but you can send this bag to their recycling program!)

You can also purchase Ethical Bean k-cups on their website.

3. Halo – Honduras Coffee Pods

Halo Honduras eco friendly coffee pods
Source: Halo 
  • Material: Sugar cane and paper pulp
  • BPI standard certified? No
  • Current price: £7.00 per pack of 10 pods (£0.70 per pod)
  • Keurig compatible? No
  • Get this product: Halo

Based in London, Halo seeks to reinvent compostable coffee pods by making them biodegradable at home. Unlike most of the eco-friendly pods and k-cups on this list, Halo coffee doesn’t require you to send your used pods to industrial facilities.

These are a one-of-a-kind design that we haven’t seen anywhere else, and in addition to their minimal ecological footprint, the coffee tastes great! One of the downsides is that they’re a bit more expensive than other options, especially if you’re ordering outside of the UK.

We also found that they offer a wide selection of coffee from around the world, so you’re sure to find the perfect blend for you!


  • Compostable at home, so you can turn your coffee pods into natural fertilizer and soil in your own backyard
  • Eco-friendly packaging 
  • Global shipping available
  • Wide variety of flavors and roasts


  • No discount for buying in bulk
  • Not Keurig compatible
  • Softer than typical coffee pods, so fitting them into your machine might require some extra effort
  • More expensive than other options, especially for international shipping


PLA (polylactic acid) is a type of biodegradable plastic made from plant sugars and resins. Unlike synthetic plastics, PLA can decompose in an industrial facility in a matter of days with no harmful residues and creates 75% less greenhouse gas emissions in its manufacturing. Here are our top picks for PLA coffee pods.

4. Tayst Coffee Roaster – Compostable Coffee Pods

Tayst Coffee Roaster - eco friendly coffee pods
Source: Amazon
  • Material: PLA Bio-resin
  • BPI standard certified? Yes
  • Current price: $35.99 per pack of 50 pods ($0.72 per pod)
  • Keurig compatible? Yes
  • Get this product: Amazon

Tayst is a coffee brand that takes their responsibility for the environment and ethics seriously. Partnering with several green organizations, Tayst coffee is fair trade and part of the Rainforest Alliance, ensuring their coffee farmers are reaching the highest standard of social and ecological responsibility.


  • Get a free mug and a discount with subscription purchases
  • Wide range of blends and flavors
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Coffee pods are Nespresso-compatible


  • We’ve noticed that these k-cups are not compatible with newer models of Keurig machines
  • Pods may leak coffee grounds in the machine


PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) are a type of naturally biodegrading polyesters that are broken down by microorganisms. While technically a plastic, this material can decompose in soils, oceans, landfills, or backyard composters without any harmful residue left behind.

5. Grind – Home Compostable Coffee Pods

Grind - eco friendly coffee pods
Source: Amazon
  • Material: PHA Polyester
  • BPI standard certified? No
  • Current price: $45.00 per pack of 60 pods ($0.75 per pod)
  • Keurig compatible? No
  • Get this product: Amazon

Another London-based brand, Grind is looking to reshape the coffee industry. Grind invests in small coffee farmers around the world, enabling them to support their farms and invest in their communities.

Their coffee pods come in a reusable tin that can be refilled without wasting excess packaging on refills, and you can save on your purchases by subscribing to a monthly refill. The tins also look great!


  • Certified organic
  • Packaging is also at-home compostable and plastic-free
  • They offer discounts to students and people under 26


  • Grind is owned by Nestle, which has been known to have detrimental environmental and social impacts around the world
  • K-cups are not currently compatible with Keurig or other common US coffee machines
  • We’ve noticed some of their blends taste a bit watery and are weakly caffeinated

Top Picks

Still can’t make up your mind? Here are our top picks for a few different categories.

Most Affordable: Tayst Coffee Roaster

At $0.72 per pod, Tayst is the most affordable option. It also gives you the option to buy in bulk or subscription for more savings.

Most Variety: Halo

Every coffee-lover is different, which is why it’s important to have enough variety to meet everyone’s needs. Halo has the best range of options, sourcing its beans from all over the world to give you the best flavors and blends.

Best Overall: Tayst Coffee Roaster

Tayst’s eco-friendly k-cups are made with PLA bioplastic and have options that are compatible with most coffee makers. It comes in a wide variety of blends and brews to suit your tastes, all of which are sustainably and ethically sourced.

Tayst partners with multiple green organizations to ensure their coffee has a net-positive impact on the environment, farmers, and coffee drinkers, and their coffee pods are innovatively made with biodegradable plastics that won’t leave lasting impacts.

Leave a comment