The 8 Best Eco-Friendly Coffee Makers of 2021

Kick single-use pods to the curb with these eco-friendly coffee makers

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You may not have thought about what kind of environmental impact those little plastic and metal single-use coffee pods have, but since their debut over 30 years ago, the toll on Mother Earth has been devastating. In 2014 alone, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they’d wrap around Earth more than 10 times. The same year, 13 billion K-Cups went into landfills, according to an Atlantic article.

To make matters worse, many pods are not recyclable and if users fail to separate used coffee grounds, that organic material can contribute to the production of methane in landfills. Although some coffee pod makers tout the recyclability of aluminum pods, recycling a single-use item still has a higher carbon footprint compared to the compostable or zero-waste alternatives.

However, there are numerous ways to get a greener java boost, including several different zero-waste options. Here, we share our favorite types of eco-friendly coffee makers that will provide you with a better cup of joe. Just remember to compost your coffee grounds!

The Rundown
Loved by coffee enthusiasts, the French press is a solid choice for consistently great coffee.
A reusable filter for coffee grounds and a charcoal water filter are eco-friendly factors that make this drip coffee maker stand out.
Simple yet sophisticated, the Chemex makes your morning joe that much chicer.
Made from zero-waste woods and stainless steel, the Canadiano is a futuristic take on pour-over coffee.
Want French-press style coffee without the wait of steeping? Use the AeroPress.
Never worry about paper filters with this percolator's permanent filter basket.
Basically an espresso maker for your stovetop, this moka pot transports you to an Italian cafe.
Yes, you can make a brilliant brew in a mason jar with this set.

Best Overall: Secura French Press Coffee Maker

Loved for decades by coffee enthusiasts, the French press is a solid choice for consistently great coffee and press does not require paper filters. Simply use coffee grounds and hot water, and you’ve got coffee. We selected this design over a glass-body French press, because it's more durable and harder to damage.

This stainless steel one from Secura comes with a bonus stainless steel screen, allowing you to stack screens together for a more refined tasting coffee. It's available in four different sizes, and its insulated design keeps contents warm (although your coffee will also continue to brew with the grounds at the bottom). Three layers of stainless steel create a filter structure in the press, which traps even the smallest coffee grounds to produce delicious coffee. All parts of the press are dishwasher safe, and the cool touch handle and knob make for easy pouring.

Best Drip: Cuisinart Programmable 12-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker

cuisinart-programmable-coffee-maker

A reusable filter for coffee grounds and a charcoal water filter are both eco-friendly factors that make this programmable drip coffee maker from Cuisinart stand out. It’s automatic shut-off function is a both great energy saver, and brew strength controls allow you to make coffee as bold and strong as you like. You can choose to brew one to four cups, allowing you to can save both water and energy when you don't need a full pot.

The "Brew Pause" feature lets you grab a cup of coffee before the brewing cycle has finished, and the stainless steel carafe and handle hold heat well. Users love it for also being easy to clean, sleek in design, and making a great cup of coffee.

Best Pour Over: Chemex Classic Series Coffeemaker

Chemex 8-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffeemaker

Made of non-porous Borosilicate glass, which doesn’t absorb odors or chemical residues, the Chemex coffee maker is simple yet sophisticated and has an enthusiastic fan club. It does take paper filters which can be composted with your used coffee grounds, but a stainless steel option is also available if you prefer to avoid the paper.

On the surface, the Chemex is easy to use: Add in coffee grounds, top with hot water, and you’ll have coffee. However, there are a number of techniques for grinding beans and slowly adding water that Chemex aficionados use to get a stronger cup, and we found that it’s worth tinkering to find your preferred approach. 

The Chemex can be refrigerated to make iced coffee or simply use later, just pour the coffee into a mug and reheat for a fresh, hot cup. The Chemex also gets bonus points for looking great in the kitchen, as it is wrapped with a polished wood collar and a leather tie.

Best Single-Serve Pour-Over: Canadiano Wooden Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Canadiano Wooden Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Single-cup pour-over coffee makers are easy, no-fuss and ideal for anyone who just needs one cup of coffee at a time. Made from zero-waste woods and stainless steel, the Canadiano is a modern, almost futuristic take on the single-cupper. It requires no filters and is easy to clean.

Available in ash, walnut, cherry, or white oak, these coffee makers are all cut from sustainably-certified wood. The different woods initially impart some flavor notes to your coffee, so Canadiano offers pairing recommendations: Cherry and birch woods are best for light and medium roasts, while walnut and oak are better for darker roasts.

Best Aeropress: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

AeroPress-Coffee-and-Espresso-Maker

Want French-press style coffee without waiting for it to steep? The AeroPress might be the coffee maker for you. Another single-cup option, the AreoPress requires a special round filter that can be composted.

To use, pop the paper filter into the cap and screw the cap onto the chamber. Stand the chamber over a mug, and add a scoop of your favorite ground coffee into the chamber. Add hot water to the chamber and stir for 10 seconds. Insert the plunger and press gently. Pause when you feel resistance, and stop when you’ve reached the plunger has reached the bottom of the chamber. We recommend using medium-fine coffee grounds in the AreoPress. Finer espresso grounds can also work but require more patience and muscle to get the plunger all the way down.

AeroPress eliminates most bitterness and acidity, as well as the longer steep time associated with French presses. Cleanup is relatively easy — just remove the cap and filter, and push the plunger to eject the used coffee "puck" into the compost bin. Rinse the rubber seal, and you’re done. However, there are several different components that deserve a good scrub once in awhile.

Best Stovetop Percolator: Farberware Yosemite Coffee Percolator

Yosemite Coffee Percolator

If you never want to worry about paper filters, the Farberware percolator comes with a permanent filter basket for easy and eco-friendly coffee making. The stainless-steel finish helps keep heat inside, and the glass knob lets you see when percolating starts. It has a non-reactive interior that also means no odd flavors or odors.

The percolator works with gas, electric, and induction stovetops, and is dishwasher safe and fully immersible. The classic design goes great in all types of kitchen interiors. This percolator makes up to 12 cups of coffee, meaning you can make just enough for one cup or enough for a crowd, or just a long day at the keyboard.

Best Moka Pot: Bialetti Moka Express

Often found in Italian kitchens since the 1930s, moka pots are loved because they’re easy to use and make a great cup of coffee without a paper filter. It’s basically an espresso maker for your stovetop, and creates delightful coffee.

To start, fill the bottom level with water – a little more than the amount of coffee you'd like to have at the end. Fill the second level with ground coffee, and set the pot on the stove. Heat will make the water rise through the vessel, creating hot coffee along the way that bubbles into the top portion of the pot, which you can then pour straight into your favorite mug. Be sure to take the pot off the heat as soon as the coffee is done, otherwise the coffee may get a burnt flavor.

This version from Bialetti is a classic, and comes in larger and smaller sizes. Just one word of caution: the handle is plastic, so if you leave it on a hot flame for too long it can melt.

Best Cold Brew: County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Mason Jar Coffee Maker

County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Mason Jar Coffee Maker

Yes, we live in a world where you really can make quick and easy cold brew coffee right in a mason jar. This is my preferred way to make cold brew, as it’s no fuss, minimal effort, and produces great coffee.

Just place coffee in the stainless steel filter, add water to the mason jar, add the lid, and let it steep overnight. In the morning, remove the filter, dump the coffee grounds, and pour yourself an easy cup of coffee without having to tinker with coffee maker settings or a stove. All the parts are dishwasher safe, and there is no plastics or paper filter used at all.

Final Verdict

The Secura French Press (available at Amazon.com) is zero-waste and available in a number of sizes, making it a great fit for most households. If you’re just looking to brew up a single cup at a time, consider the Canadiano Wooden Pour-Over coffee maker (available at Canadiano.ca).

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger is committed to helping our readers reduce waste in their lives. We’ve worked hard to find the best sustainable coffee makers for our own use, and want to share our first-hand experiences. Amanda Ogle loves writing about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can.