I reused a coffee pod in my mom and pop’s coffee machine when staying over and they’d run out. Never again…
Coffee pods are single-use and cannot be used twice. Using them again will make over-extracted coffee that is weak and bitter because water has already passed through the coffee grounds. However, the plastic pods can be recycled and refilled with new coffee grounds to create a new single-use pod.
Let’s look at this topic in more detail, and discover more about why you can’t use coffee pods twice, if the manufacturers make reusable ones – and how you can recycle the plastic pods themselves if not the coffee in them…
How Many Times Can You Use a Coffee Pod?
According to just about every coffee pod manufacturer, single-use means single-use. And as much as we like to repurpose things here at Roasty Brews, we have to admit that a second brew from most pods is pretty disgusting.
So, the answer to that question is once (although we do have a handy hack for reusing the empty container).
What Happens if You Use a Coffee Pod Twice?
Why can’t you use a coffee pod twice? Because the water has already passed through the coffee grounds, any second or subsequent cup will be both weak and bitter – not a nice combination. In coffee speak, this is called “over-extracted”.
As the water is forced through the coffee grounds, it picks up all those delicious flavors and aromas. There isn’t much flavor left by the second pass, and that second cup will be pretty disappointing.
You will get some people saying that if you make a smaller beverage the first time, there’ll still be enough for a second.
OK, it won’t be quite as lackluster if the first cup is smaller; however, if you’re using one pod between two, you’ll get better coffee by making a good-sized cup and then pouring it into two smaller cups or mugs.
Is There a Reusable Coffee Pod?
Yes, you can buy reusable coffee pods, which are designed to fit machines like a Nespresso coffee maker.
These are actually a great eco-friendly option. The reusable coffee pods are usually made from plastic or stainless steel, which are easy to keep clean.
Simply fill them with ground coffee, pop on one of the foil lids (and we’ll come onto those in a moment), and insert into the machine. Voila – easy coffee, without the plastic waste.
However, if you know the anatomy of a coffee pod machine, you’ll know that they have to be able to pierce the lid. Some reusable pods come with special lids that are designed to work with the coffee machine.
Others need the classic single-use lid, which means that you’ll have to keep buying packs of single-use pod lids.
You’ll get a load (100+) when you first buy the pods, but then you’ll have to keep buying them. You can also make your own lids, and we’ll look at that in a minute.
What sort of coffee do you use in a reusable pod? It needs to be finely ground, and because the extraction time is short, choose coffee with a more intense flavor. You may need to make two shots (using two pod loads, of course) to get the strong flavor you’re used to.
How Do You Reuse Coffee Pods?
The coffee in the standard coffee pod may be single-use – but the pod itself isn’t. Once you’ve made your coffee, don’t throw the used pod away, as you can make your own coffee pod.
It’s easy enough to wash and dry the used pod – but what about those all-important lids? You can make your own out of aluminum foil, which should convince the machine that you’re using the real deal.
This short film shows you how to reuse coffee pods, including making a new lid.
As with the commercially bought reusable coffee pods, you’ll need to use finely ground coffee to get the maximum extraction, and you may need two passes through the machine (with fresh coffee the second time) if you like your coffee strong.
Can You Use K Pods Twice?
K Pods are designed to be single-use. As we discussed earlier, you can try to get a second brew out of your K Pod, but it won’t make very nice coffee.
You can reuse the pod with a DIY foil lid, or you can buy a reusable pod that’s specially designed for your Keurig coffee machine.
Keurig manufactures a My K Pod Reusable Filter, which is super-easy to care for. Just make sure you purchase the right style for your machine, as the ones for earlier-generation Keurigs are quite different.
Can You Get 2 Shots Out of a Nespresso Pod?
Again, the manufacturer states that Nespresso pods are designed for a single cup of coffee. There’s nothing to stop you using the pod a second time, apart from the fact that the coffee won’t have a very good flavor.
Like most other pod-based coffee makers, the Nespresso machine is designed to make one cup at a time using a single, ready-loaded pod. The second time round, those rich and complex flavors won’t be there, having already been extracted the first time.
If you like strong coffee, you don’t have to make two shots. Nespresso’s Vertuo coffee machines will make an espresso with the right pods. There’s a range of blends to choose from, as well as a choice of sizes.
Back to the original two-shot question. If you use an espresso pod, you could squeeze two cups out of it. Make one cup of strong coffee, share it out into two cups, then top them up with hot water, Americano style.
You could also use it to make a latte (albeit one that’s heavy on the milk).
Is It Safe to Reuse Nespresso Pods?
It’s perfectly safe to reuse a Nespresso pod using fresh coffee grounds. The same process applies as we discussed earlier. Once you’ve had your cup of Nespresso coffee, save the used pod.
Rinse it out well and leave it to dry. You then need to make a new lid for the pod using aluminum foil. Fill it with coffee, ideally finely ground to maximize the extraction.
Nespresso machines are designed to make coffee quickly, so you need to slow down the process. Fine grounds make it harder for the water to pass through, so it’ll pick up more flavors on its way.
You can also buy reusable pods that are made to work with Nespresso machines. These come in plastic or stainless steel, and are designed to be easy to look after and keep clean. Some have built-in, reusable lids, while others come with single-use foil lids.
Summary: Using Coffee Pods Twice
While we’re all for recycling here at Roasty Brews, I just can’t help thinking that recycling coffee pods is a waste of time.
If you’ve got some fresh ground coffee to hand, why would you stuff it back into a cleaned-out second-hand plastic pod and run it through a machine, when you can brew it so easily on the hob?
I might just be old-fashioned, but I’d hope that my freshly brewed version would taste much nicer, but I could be wrong.
Perhaps we should test this out with a comparison article in future? It will be fun trying it out. 🙂