BIG Savings with DIY #K-Cups

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Product Information | 54 comments

K-CupsI received a Keurig Coffee Maker for Christmas and really like it. When you want a quick cup of coffee you just pop in a K-Cup and presto, it’s done. But there is one huge thing not to like. My Keurig will no longer allow use of the reusable cups that you filled with your own coffee. You can only use their K-Cups and they are horribly overpriced. That is wrong. It’s like buying a car and being told you can only buy gas at the most expensive service station in town.

So what can be done? That turns out to be not as difficult as you would think. The Keurig reads the outside edge of the K-Cup label on top of the cup. If it meets with approval, you’re fine, if not, it says “Oops, not a Keurig Product”. Therefore what is needed is a reusable cup with a K-Cup label. Easily done as you’ll see in a minute. But first, be prepared to be impressed with the savings by making your own K-Cups. Prices, of course, are based on products offered in our local area in Ontario. Actually, everything was purchased at our local WalMart.

A pack of 18 K-Cups cost 12.57 or about $0.70 each. I took one of those cups apart and measured the coffee grounds which equaled two tablespoons or 1/8 cup. Watch the price when you roughly convert this to a pound of coffee.

  • One pound of coffee = about 5 cups.
  • 5 cups times 8 = 40 K-Cup equivalents
  • 40 times $0.70 = $28.00 a pound

Rather pricey coffee, wouldn’t you say?

Now to compare to using reusable cups. A Pack of Melitta JavaJig, containing two reusable cups, cost $7.47, but since they are made to last, we really shouldn’t include them in the costing, at least not for our purposes.

Cost of using the reusable cups:

  • Melitta filters made for the JavaJigs – pack of 60 for $3.47 = about 6 cents each (I tried to find a cheaper alternative but haven’t been successful yet.)
  • 2 pounds (925g) of Maxwell House coffee cost $6.00 or $3.00 for one pound.
  • One pound = 5 cups = 40 K-Cups = 7 1/2 cent per K-Cup
  • Total Cost: Filter 6 cents, coffee 7 1/2 cents, total 13 1/2 cent
  • Savings: 70 cents minus 13 1/2 cents = 56 1/2 cents saved on each cup. That’s a LOT.

How to make your reusable K-cups work:


  1.  Top Row: VERY carefully cut the top of a used K-Cup. Take your time and be careful not to cut yourself or damage the edge of the label since that is the part the Keurig reads. The plastic you need to cut through is fairly heavy so use a sharp knife and please be careful with that first cut – that’s the tricky one.
  2. Middle Row: The first picture shows the contents of the JavaJig pack: the lid, green holder, Melitta filter and filter insert. At this point you’re only interested in the lid. Use only an excellent quality plastic glue – the one shown in the picture is Lepage’s Plastic Glue. Place your JavaJig lid right side up and your K-Cup label wrong side up.
  3. Bottom Row: You can see where the glue is placed – the little white dots  (they appear smaller than they actually are) at the top and bottom of the lid -make sure you have the right side up. The next picture shows the K-Cup label glued to the lid. Finally, the last picture has four K-Cups filled and ready to go.

The one with the white lid is the second one made around Christmas time, after it was discovered the machine would no longer accept reusable cups. The first one had a cut in the edge and it wasn’t long before the Keurig rejected it. To fix it the bad label was carefully pried off and any dried glue lightly sanded to smooth things out and a new label applied.

The Melitta JavaJig package has great instructions for assembling the unit so no need to go there. But here are some other helpful tips:

  • After filling the reusable cup,  and before putting the lid on, wipe the top edge clean to remove any loose grounds – this ensures a good seal
  • Put the lid on – press down on it to make sure it’s snapped in place
  • Wipe the outside of the reusable K-Cup before putting it in the Keurig. You don’t want any loose grounds floating around
  • The filter insert has a couple of tabs on it. So does the lid. It makes it a lot easier to take the lid off afterwards if you place the lid tabs away from the filter insert tabs and not on top of them.

And that’s it. See how simple that was?

I do keep a supply of the K-Cups on hand for when we have company – quickly pop one of those in the machine and the coffee is ready. But for everyday use the refillable K-Cups do fine. Since I drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day and my husband drinks tea, having the four JavaJig K-Cups means they only need to be filled once a day to always be prepared.

Making the K-Cups gives me what I want – convenience at a reasonable price.

Talk to you again next week,



  1. Interesting solution to the problem of spending too much money on coffee. I also really prefer not to use non-recyclable products. Oh yeah, the reason that I won’t be getting one of these pricy products? I just don’t like coffee and my husband doesn’t like one cup at a time.

    • Hi Beth, if you don’t like coffee, you’ll probably enjoy my post to be published tomorrow. It’s about hosting a tea party. Gotta cover all the angles, right?

  2. This is a great little hack you’ve come up with for spending less on K-cups. The math you showed us makes it a no-brainer. I use a little coffee pot for the one cup I have every morning, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if someone ever decided to give me a Keurig as a gift one of these days.

  3. I am happily passing this info along to my Keurig friends. I, alas, am addicted to my Nespresso machine. I blogged about my Nespresso love affair. It’s the coffee inside the capsules that has me begging for it every day. And now that they came out with 3 new decafs, I am doomed! 🙂
    Thanks for the info on being frugal, Lenie!

    • Thanks for passing this along Rose, as a blogger you know that is always appreciated. I don’t know anything about the Nespresso machine, will have to check it out. I do love the convenience of the Keurig and how fast it is. With the savings I’ve found I can continue to use it.

  4. Very nice hack! Well done! Great coffee while keeping the convenience and saving money.

  5. That’s some good info. Doing that can save some money in the long run.

  6. Was unaware that they added a bar code reader to their system. There has to be a hack to disable the reader. What about taping the bar code directly onto the reader? t I’ve often wondered how recyclable the cups are. Every time I see them in the store I envision giant piles of them being pushed by a backhoe into a land fill.

    • Hi Kyre – I wouldn’t recommend taping the bar code directly onto the reader. I would be afraid that this could void the warranty. I’ll stick with gluing the bar code to the top of the reusable jig. And you are absolutely right about the landfill problem – not everyone recycles.

  7. You (and the other commenters) make me feel like such a slacker, Lenie. I sheepishly confess that I make coffee in the laziest way imaginable, namely, I boil some water in a teakettle and then add it to a tablespoon of the instant stuff. As I am not a morning person this works for me although I can see how a morning person would want to set the bar higher. In any case, whether you are or aren’t a morning person, I salute your willingness to roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to get a satisfying cup of coffee.

    Meanwhile, I have a question for you: Has Starbucks made inroads into Canada? If so, maybe you could write a follow-up post comparing Tim Hortons and Starbucks: “Tims vs. Starbucks: The Great Coffeehouse Smackdown” – I’m confident you could do justice to such an article.

    • Andy, what an interesting concept. We don’t have a Starbucks in our area but once when we were going to our son’s house in a larger city we stopped at one. I hated it. The service was terrible and the coffee matched. But we will be heading there again in April so I just might check it out again. BTW, I didn’t know anyone still drank instant coffee. I keep a small jar handy to darken up my gravy.

  8. I was lucky enough to get an old Keurig, before they started using that chip, so I have no issue with it. I have heard though, that Keurig is now going to allow you to use the jigs now. I am unsure how this affects those of you with an existing Keurig machine.

    • William, my neighbour has one of the older Keurigs. It never dawned on me that Keurig would get creative in trying to force the consumer to buy their overpriced product. I hope that you are right – that they will allow use of the jugs. For interest sake, I’ll be watching.

  9. This is brilliant Lenie! Not only for the cost savings, but I’ve been wondering what happens to all those little used cups. It seems kind of wasteful, but you’ve solved both problems in one.

    • Hi Meredith – it’s funny that you mention the waste of those little cups – I was going to point that out in my post and it completely slipped my mind. Thanks for bringing it up because it’s so true. They can be recycled but I would think a lot end up in landfills where they will sit for years.

  10. Hi Lenie

    I have never heard about Keurig. However you sure sparked an idea in me about being frugal with coffee. This is a great way of saving money. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Ikechi – The price of the K-Cups used in the Keurig is outrageous and unnecessary. Keurig thought they had us over the barrel because we had to use their K-Cups so they could charge any price they wanted. That kind of thinking is what makes me angry enough to look for alternatives.

  11. Hi Lenie,

    What a savvy idea for saving a few bucks! I don’t have a Keurig, but every time I walk by the store/cafe on Newbury Street, I’m tempted to buy it because it’s a nice luxury to have at home. I like your idea of using the reusable cups because we’ve all had that thought. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Tatia – the Keurig is nice if you don’t drink a lot of coffee. I have 3 or 4 cups a day but they are spread out over the day which meant I was making 3 or 4 small pots but wasting most of it (I hate leftover coffee). So for that, you can’t beat the Keurig. But the K-Cup price is ridiculous and when you figure out the cost you’ll see it’s also unnecessary. I think it’s called corporate greed.

  12. Wow! This is great way to make a nice cup of coffee economical too.
    You are amazing. I too like Jacqueline drink a lot of coffee so it is hard to make it economical.

    But it is good that this worked for you.

    Thank you for a great share.

    • Andleeb, if you drink a lot of coffee then the Keurig is not for you, even with the reusable cups. Then you’re better of to make pots full. For me, now that I’ve figured out how to cut costs, it’s perfect.

  13. If I ever get one of those coffee machines, I’ll make sure it’s not a Keurig! I love my coffee too much and won’t pay that much! I buy my 2 favorite coffee brands when they come on sale and will buy 2 or 3 if it is a really good price. Right now I have 6 or 7 cans of coffee stashed here. I do love my coffee in the morning, but have cut down to about 3 or 4 a day instead of the 7 or more I used to have. And at least 3 of those cups are within the first couple of hours of getting up! (Which is why the one cup machines have never been appealing to me. I love the flavored creamer also and had tried a recipe for a home made one, but discovered the cost of making my own was more than buying the ready made stuff, so when it is on sale I buy several and freeze them. I use honey to sweeten my coffee and I buy it from a neighbor who has hives about 2 km from my house, so quite local. I find using sugar in my coffee tastes funny now and leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth, so rarely do I go to Tim Horton’s anymore as you can’t get honey as a sweetener there. You can at MacDonald’s though!! I usually make my own coffee and take it with my in one of my travel cups, so don’t incur the expense of a take out coffee. When you think a medium coffee at Horton’s is almost $2 and you work 5 days a week, that is $10 a week better spent elsewhere!

    • Nancy, I know you are a thrifty soul and you look at all the angles. (I probably taught you hahaha). But you’re right, picking up a Tim’s on your way to work and often on your way home again, is a foolish expense. I like to see something for the money I spend. I did not know that honey tasted good in coffee. Always nice to learn something new.

  14. Great tip Lenie and oh I do love my coffee. I’ve cut back dramatically from the days I was chained to a desk, but I still savor that first cup standing on my deck in the cool morning air. In fact I just saw a great t-shirt I think I must have that has all I need is my coffee and my dog on the front of it – so true! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    • Marquita, like you, when I was working I used to drink 2 or 3 pots a day, instead of 2 or 3 cups. This is much better. Now that I’ve cut the cost of the K-cups,I do like the Keurig because I can have a fresh cup when I want. Since there is no waste, I’m not paying more than I did before.

  15. Woww Great Idea Lenie, You always find ingenious ways to save money.
    I don’t have a Keurig coffee maker but I will forward your link to a friend that has one.


    • Hi ChinWe
      Thanks for forwarding the link to your friend. I hope she’ll be able to take advantage of the savings. Thanks for the comment and the share.

  16. Lenie, you are brilliant. I love the way you operate! If there’s something that does not work for you, you figure out another way. I don’t drink coffee anymore, but that did not take away from my enjoyment of your blog. 🙂

    • Hi Ramona, thanks for the compliment. I really do not like paying to much for anything ever. You’ve heard the saying, I’m sure, where there’s a will, there’s a way. When it comes to paying less, I will find that way.

  17. I don’t really use my Keurig anymore. I kind of got bored of it and now save my coffee drinker for special occasions. Having said that, the cups are very expensive and saving money is always a good thing. This is super creative. I love the convenience of the single serve k-kups but this makes it so easy that it is hardly worth worrying about the little extra work.

    • Erica, what really gets to me is that the cups need not be that expensive -they could be sold for 20 cents each and everyone would still make a profit. This really is overpricing simply because Keurig feels you have no choice. That is what really ticked me off.

  18. That is hilarious Lenie and very clever. As I read I was chuckling as the price of these cups is crazy but not to a shrewd gal like you. If ever I get one I will do the same. For now my Berletti works fine.

    • I’m glad you got a chuckle out of it Tim- when I found out you couldn’t use reusable cups – the older models allowed that – I had to figure out a way or not use the Keurig. I would have been paying about $90.00 a month for the pleasure of drinking coffee – thinking what else I could do with that money I had to find a better way.

  19. I love my Keurig. I only drink one cup a day (maybe) so it works for me. The reusable cups are great and much more cost effective. Although I hear they make cups now with chips with the newer model Keurig so you can’t do such things. Not such if that’s true since I have an older one.

    • Krystle, if you only drink one cup a day, the Keurig is as good as any. If it’s true they put chips in so you can’t use reusable ones – then I think everyone should stop buying the Keurig and look for an alternative. Their K-Cup price is simply ridiculous.

  20. Pretty clever. I don’t sue a Keurig but if I did I would definitely try this. It’s not just the cost. In many areas now there are local coffee roasters sprouting up who often have excellent coffee but usually not packaged into K-cups.

    • Ken, that is excellent – something I hadn’t thought about. You can save big money and have much greater choice. Works for me. Thanks for sharing that tip.

  21. I use a drip for bigger pots and Keurig for quickly in between. I buy all coffee with Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. Our store managers allows you to combine coupons and that reduces the price enormously.

    • Alice, I don’t know where you live but I’m in Ontario, Canada and here there is no such thing as coupon stacking. Believe me, I’ve checked it. Even approached store managers to question why not. But I’m glad you can advantage of it. The regular price is just plain ridiculous.

  22. I don’t have a Keurig coffee maker, but this looks like a great money-saving idea if I did. You always find such ingenious ways to save money.

    • Hi Donna, There are so many interesting ways to spend money that I hate to pay extra for anything, especially when it just isn’t necessary. If I can make the cups for less that 15 cents, Keuring probably makes them for around a nickle. As Jacquie would say, where’s the justice?

  23. The reason you talk about here Lenie is one of the reasons I still don’t have a Keurig type machine and instead have a coffee pot. I really appreciate the comparison of the savings with the DIY cups. Just in case I get this bug again!

    • Patricia, now that I have the reusable cups I’m quite happy to use it. Having to pay those ridiculous prices I was not.

  24. Genius Lenie! What a great work-around! I see Keurig everywhere now, but don’t have one! You’d think being single, it would be the perfect thing but the truth is…I drink way too much coffee to make it economical! I don’t think I’ve ever had just (1) cup of coffee! LOL I always suspected that the profit was in the K-cups and not the machine…that’s just ghastly!

    • I am all for companies making a good profit but this is ridiculous and unnecessary. If I could buy the K-cups for 15 cents I wouldn’t bother but this is just to much of a difference. And you’re right, if you drink a lot, even with the reusable cups it wouldn’t make sense.

  25. Great work around there, Lenie. I love the Keurig type machines but $28 a pound is ridiculous. Im sure most people never stopped to calculate that out. Yikes! Good solution for those not wanting to pay that price.

    • Susan, I really don’t like being overcharged and that does seem to get the creative juices going. Just think, if I can make them for about 13 cents each, how much cheaper could Keurig make them with their bulk buying power? That is what really gets me.

  26. Great idea for saving money! I don’t have a Keurig but I seem to recall that wholesale stores sell the K-cups at a discount though you have to buy large quantities of them and then find a place to store them. I like your idea better. =) Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sabrina – we don’t have easy access to the big wholesale places like Costco (wish we did) so I wasn’t aware the cups were sold there. It would be interesting to know what they do charge. Maybe I’ll go online and see if I can find out.

      • Oh no, that’s a shame. Definitely check online, you may be able to be a member and have them ship it to you. =)

  27. Smart solution, Lenie. Have never heard about Keurig, but Melitta is well known.

    • Hi Catarina – Keurig is a fancy coffee maker that lets you quickly make a cup of coffee, which is wonderful but then they decided to get greedy and make it so you could only use their overpriced products. I hate being scammed and that’s what I felt they were doing. Anyway, problem solved.

  28. Lenie,
    Thank you for the information. I am going to order the Melitta JavaJig for my husband. He likes the ides of the filter. I am so glad you wrote about the filters.

    • Arleen, I was really annoyed at the price of the K-Cups but I love the convenience of the Keurig. Instant coffee, who can beat that. By making the K-Cups I can save a lot of money and still have the convenience. That always works for me.

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