What’s Inside a Single Serve Coffeemaker Pod?

Single Serve coffeemakers are among the hottest holiday items this year, and chances are you’ll buy one, get one as a gift or get served a cup from one in the next month.

Savenia Labs is set to release the world’s first independent lab tested energy ratings on this popular category soon.  While energy usage drives much of their environmental footprint, the waste created from used pods also has a big impact.

Lots of single serve coffeemakers have entered the market with many different types of coffee pods.  As each works a little differently, we’ve assembled a guide on the five most popular types to help you with your holiday shopping.

To set the stage – the average person will spend over $3,000 on coffee pods and supplies over the 5 year lifetime of the unit.  Lined up side by side, the used pods alone would stretch across 3 football fields.  So which pod system you buy is pretty important.

K Cups

By far the most popular pod-based coffeemakers out there use the Keurig K Cups.  There are 268 varieties of K Cups available on Keurig’s website.  The pods are not recyclable, but Keurig provides a reusable cup that can be used to save money and waste.  The K Cups are tall, rounded plastic cups with a small paper filter at the bottom.  Your favorite coffee fills the rest of the cup above the filters.  Hot water is fed through a hole pierced in the top of each cup, through the filter, and through another hole pierced in the bottom right into your mug.  Keurig models and partner models based on Keurig K Cup technology like Cuisinart and Mr. Coffee all use K Cups.

CBTL Capsules

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has a slightly different design from the ubiquitous K Cup.  We found 25 varieties on The Coffee Bean’s website.  The cups are not recyclable, and we couldn’t find refillable cups for sale.  But the CBTL model we tested used much higher water pressure to handle espresso, and the small plastic capsules contain a plastic sieve to evenly distribute this higher pressure water before it gets to your mug.  The coffee is packed below that sieve and above another filter at the bottom of the packet.

T Discs

Tassimo single serve coffeemakers use T Discs.  There are 62 varieties available directly from Tassimo.  These are not widely recyclable and we couldn’t find refillable discs available.  T Discs appear to be much more intensively designed with thicker, stronger plastic channeling water through tunnels of coffee before filtering into your mug.  These use low pressure to brew a variety of coffees and beverages.  Uniquely, each T Disc includes a barcode at the top that triggers automatic brew settings to customize the brewing process.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto

DeLonghi’s Dolce Gusto coffeemakers use Nescafe Dolce Gusto Capsules.  There are 22 capsule varieties available from Nescafe.  These are not widely recyclable and there are no refillable capsules available.  From the outside, these look quite similar to K Cups but each has a permeable membrane in the middle of the capsule to enable high water pressure brew of every cup.  According to Delonghi, the machine pushes water at a pressure of 15 bars through the membrane.  They claim this approximates the pressure found in coffee house machines.

Bunn/Senseo Coffee Pads

Bunn’s MC My Café and Senseo’s Single Serve Coffeemakers use coffee pads that are quite a bit different than any other on the market.  Instead of a plastic cup as in most other systems, they use coffee filter-like paper pads that enclose the coffee.  These pads are compostable, and you can also buy refillable versions to fill with your own coffee at home without the waste (and cost). Neither the Bunn nor the Senseo push high water pressure through these pads.  Newer Bunn models also use K Cups.

Which system you buy depends on what’s important to you.  If you’re an espresso drinker, you want a high water pressure system and the options for refillable / recyclable pods are limited.  For regular coffee and other ‘non-pressure’ drinks, there are several options for you to buy, recycle or re-fill depending on your needs.

Be sure to check out our other blogs on single serve coffeemakers, including The Competition, The Consumer, The Costs and The Environment.  And look out for the release of Savenia Labs Energy Rating Labels on popular single serve coffeemakers…in stores soon!

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Savenia Labs Launches First Toaster Energy Ratings

Today we are delighted to announce the world’s first energy ratings on toasters.  Full press release here.  Millions of people use these units around the world every day, and now you can find out how much they cost to operate before you buy at Savenia Labs participating retailers.

Energy is Toast.  This time we tested 4 slice units; basic units, full featured with lights and electronic lift mechanisms, dual chamber (2×2) models and long slot toasters.  We found that the energy costs alone can exceed the purchase price on some models, while the dual chamber (2×2) control was a useful feature for people who make 2 slices more often than 4.

You can see the selection of toasters together with Savenia Labs Energy Ratings on the shelf at participating stores, and on our smartphone website at www.savenialabs.com.

In the run up to the holiday season, now is a great time to buy toasters.  And you can save big with coupons from some of our partner stores.

DC / Baltimore Ace Coupon here.  Fairfax Virginia Coupon here.

Please visit the stores and let us know what you think.

Savenia Labs Expands to Northern Virginia

We are delighted to announce today the launch of Savenia Labs Energy Ratings to Fairfax, Virginia residents at Twins Ace Hardware. The full press release is here.

Fairfax is called the ‘heart’ of Northern Virginia for its small town feel in the center of a large metropolitan area.  Residents can now shop for more energy efficient products at a locally owned store and save money on energy costs, while reducing pollution due to electricity production.

Twins Ace Hardware is a beautiful store in the center of Fairfax owned by twins Craig and Jeff Smith – both area residents committed to providing exceptional customer service.

To kick off the promotion the store is offering extra savings on Savenia Labs rated products, coupon here.

Please visit the store and see the new display, and help us extend a warm welcome to the newest member of the Savenia Labs retail network.

Single Serve Coffeemaker Confidential Part II – The Consumer

The Consumer

Savenia Labs surveys thousands of consumers to understand how they use products, and we use this information to create ‘real-life’ lab test protocols to replicate how the average user normally runs the product.

Our survey of single serve coffee machine users found that most people still bought the machines in stores as opposed to online. Almost 25% got them as gifts.  And while many people buy other small appliances because their old one broke, we found most people bought their single serve coffeemakers because they wanted to switch to single serve. And they love their coffee, with 77% reporting use their machine 7 days per week and drinking about 3 cups of mostly coffee each day.

Armed with this information, we go now to the testing laboratory to put these coffeemakers to the test.

Stay tuned for our next report on the costs of ownership.

Savenia Labs Expands to Potomac, Maryland

We are delighted to announce that Savenia Labs Energy Ratings are now available in Potomac, Maryland at Strosniders True Value Hardware Store.  This is our 3rd store in Maryland and builds on our successful launches late last year in Bethesda and Silver Spring.  Here is the full press release.

Potomac, Maryland is a town of great natural beauty including Great Falls National Park and the historic C&O Canal.   Local residents live and play in this natural environment, and can now shop for more energy efficient products and save money on energy costs, while reducing pollution due to electricity production.

Strosniders Potomac is all about great customer service, and by providing Savenia Labs Energy Ratings they are giving customers a unique public service to go with their full line of small appliances and housewares.

Please join us in welcoming Strosniders Potomac to the Savenia Labs network.  They are offering $5 off on all Savenia Labs Energy Rated products (coupon here) so why not stop in to see the display…let us know what you think!

Power Outlet Hoarding in the DC Region

As the power blackout continues, the sight of thousands of people sitting on floors huddled around power outlets in malls, restaurants, and office building lobbies got us thinking about our new dependance on electricity.  And this dependance is forecast to increase, with more people, more gadgets per person and the growing importance of electric powered vehicles.  This new demand will require more power plants – mostly coal / natural gas until more renewable energy comes on line and we know what happens to air pollution when we burn things for energy.  Assuming you can’t get off the grid (entirely), maybe it’s time for some new thinking.  We think knowing how much electricity something is likely to use over its lifetime before you buy it is more important than ever.  And we plan on covering more and more product categories so you can get this information BEFORE you buy so you can shop smart.  Check for participating retailers or go online with your smartphone at www.savenialabs.com for more information.

Single Cup vs. Classic Coffeemaker Throwdown

With single cup (Keurig type) coffeemaker sales growing rapidly, we are often asked about the energy efficiency of these machines vs. standard drip coffeemakers. Many people have a 10-12 cup drip coffeemaker at home and we wanted to see if they could save energy / money moving to a single serve unit. We did some exploratory work with the Bosch Tassimo TAS6515, and while not representative of the whole category, it’s an interesting starting point for the discussion.

Our initial results showed that brewing around 8 cups of coffee per day with the Tassimo used about the same amount of energy as brewing a full 10-12 cup pot with the average coffeemaker we tested. The most efficient drip coffeemakers brewed a pot using the energy of 4 cups, while the least efficient always-on hot water varieties were much more energy hungry.

If you drink a full 12 cup pot of coffee every day and have an average drip coffeemaker – you’d use less energy by sticking with it. If you drink less than around 8 cups a day, you would probably save energy by switching to the Tassimo.

Of course energy use is not the whole story here. The single serve coffeemakers also produce waste in the form of used cups / cartridges…some of which can be recycled or re-used. On the other hand – they make coffee much faster, don’t leave coffee sitting around and provide other drink options like tea, hot chocolate.

We look forward to testing the entire category soon and presenting the whole story. Do you have a single serve coffeemaker…how do you like it?


Happy Earthday from Savenia Labs

Earth Day sure looks a lot different today than when we started Savenia Labs 3 years ago. There is now a much larger and growing community of people, organizations, and companies involved. And awareness of environmental issues continues to spread across all age groups.

All the while the sustainability winds are blowing harder in the retail world. Large retailers like Walmart have launched sustainability scorecards at the supplier level and other programs to procure better products, reduce costs, and strengthen their connection with valuable shoppers. The impact of these activities is occuring at all levels of the supply chain, from product manufacturers to parts and service suppliers.

Savenia Labs is perfectly positionned to help. After a stunning launch in Strosniders True Value Hardware stores (video), we are ramping up lab testing and expansion plans in more stores. By next Earth Day, we hope to multiply the number of smiling shoppers using Energy Rating labels to save money.

Thanks so much to all of our partners and stakeholders for the help and advice.

We will be on the National Mall over the weekend participating in the activities – hope to see you there!

Why not join the conversation and follow along as we scale the energy efficiency mountain – follow us on Facebook to stay in touch at www.facebook.com/savenialabs if you LIKE.


March Energy Saving Madness!

As the country switches to basketball fever and the days get longer – how about teaming up with Savenia Labs to take a few shots at saving money on energy during March Madness?

Savenia Labs challenges you to our version of the Big Dance. Can you make it to the Sweet Sixteen or a National Championship? Dance your way through each round. The farther you go – the more money you keep in your pocket and out of the electric bill. As the tournament progresses, check back here to see if you advance to the next round.

National Champion

Save $2,200 – MVP!  Make Your Own Energy – Cut your entire utility bill by installing your own solar, wind, or geothermal energy system. Check in to tax incentives and grant programs through your local utility or county; in Montgomery County check MyGreenMontgomery for more information.

Championship Game

Save $450 – Triple Double!  Use Savenia Labs Energy Ratings to Buy Energy Efficient Appliances – Save up to $450 in energy over the lifetime of a coffeemaker.  You can find Savenia Labs Energy Ratings at participating stores here.

Final 4

Save $300 – 3 Pointer! Shop around for lower energy prices.  In Montgomery County you can save money AND switch to cleaner wind energy suppliers like Clean Currents.  Savenia Labs uses Clean Currents wind power for our operations, and so does Strosniders True Value Hardware – the best place to buy Savenia Labs Energy Rated Appliances.

Elite 8

Save $200 – Jump Shot!  Air Seal and Insulate your Home – Act on your Energy Audit and turn your house into an Energy Efficient Superstar to save over $200 per year.  You can buy lots of supplies at Strosniders True Value Hardware, and while there have a look at Savenia Labs Energy Rated toaster ovens to heat the pizza without heating up the house in the summer.

Sweet 16

Save $$$ – Get an easy assist.  Complete an Energy Audit of Your Home – Find out where your home is leaking money and where you can save.  The cost is often covered by your local utility or county.  Check mygreenmontgomery.org or your local county for more information.  You can buy caulking, insulation and other things including Savenia Labs Energy Rated appliances at Strosniders True Value Hardware.

Round of 32

Save $150 – Here’s a free throw.  Slay the Vampire – Eliminate the energy usage that’s not doing anything for you and save $100-$200 per year.  Unplug your DVR and wide screen TVs when you go to bed, or buy a shut off timer.  You can find these at Strosniders True Value Hardware.  Check out the selection of Savenia Labs Energy Rated coffeemakers without clocks, or fully loaded models with low energy usage.

Round of 64

Save $50 – This is a layup. Upgrade one incandescent bulb to a Compact Fluorescent Light bulb. The math is pretty simple – bulbs last 8x longer, use less energy and many are covered by a 2-year manufacturer warranty. You can get them at Strosniders True Value Hardware. While you’re there, check out the selection of Savenia Labs Energy Rated small appliances and magnify your savings!

What We’re Reading: “Firms with Benefits”

This week the Economist writes about a business trend that is gathering speed across the country- Firms with Benefits. Savenia Labs, as you may know, is a Certified Benefit Corporation – which means we have taken on the responsibility to provide a measurable and meaningful public benefit through our work.  This commitment includes taking into consideration our stakeholders and also the environment alongside profit in our legal documents. We have made it our mission to educate people about the energy efficiency of the products they use every day, helping them save money and energy while reducing pollution.  Savenia Labs was the first Certified Benefit Corporation in Bethesda, MD and was also the first testing last lab to be certified in the United States.  We are proud to be part of a movement that uses the power of the markets to make the world a better place.

This year, California became the sixth state in the US to create a legal classification for companies – Benefit Corporations.  By registering as a Benefit Corporation, a company takes on a legally binding responsibility towards these commitments.  The Economist reports that Patagonia – the popular apparel company – was the first company in California to take advantage of the new law and register as a Benefit Corporation.  Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s president, wanted to solidify the company’s efforts to the community and the environment – and claims that his employees are happier and more productive because Patagonia works towards the greater good.

B Lab, the nonprofit driving the spread of Benefit Corporation laws across the country has now audited over 500 companies that account for almost $3 billion in revenue.  By changing corporate culture, this movement can have a huge impact on the way business works in the United States.  Patagonia’s involvement in this movement should only help accelerate this shift.  You can read the Economist article here.

You can read more about the Savenia Labs mission and independent audit results on our website at http://www.savenialabs.com/savenia-labs-mission