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Keurig Is Making 100% Plant-Based Coffee Pods

Keurig unveiled a line of coffee pods with no plastic or aluminum waste. Here's everything you need to know.

David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or tinkering with a toaster. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits
David Watsky
3 min read
hand holding new compostable coffee round

Compostable K-Rounds by Keurig are out to make your morning coffee routine a little greener. 

David Watsky/CNET

If you love your pod coffee maker but don't love the plastic waste those little cups create, a new line of 100% compostable coffee pods is coming to a Keurig near you. The pressed coffee capsules called "K-Rounds" have no plastic or aluminum and are held together with a thin cellulose wrapper. 

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

K-Rounds will be released alongside the Keurig Alta that the company designed to brew the eco-friendly pods. (No, they won't work in your existing Keurig model.) Both the Keurig Alta and K-Rounds will enter beta testing this year ahead of a planned consumer release in 2025. 

Keurig debuted its first category-disrupting pod coffee makers nearly 30 years ago and changed the way many make their morning cup, but the one knock on Keurig's system has always been around the plastic waste created by its 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. If you're curious, here's how to clean your Keurig coffee maker.

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

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-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

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

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

David Watsky/CNET