I've had a chance to put the Solofill Cup through some testing this weekend and would like to share my results. I wanted to look at the intended use of the Solofill and to grade it in 3 categories:
1. Ease of use
2. Quality of brew
3. Ease of cleanup
First, it couldn't be easier to use. Fill it will your favorite ground coffee up to the line indicated, close the lid and pop it into your Keurig. It is easy enough you can do this with one hand. Unlike the My K-Cup, there is nothing to remove and replace, just pop the Solofill cup into the K-Cup holder and brew as usual. You need to be sure as when using the My K-Cup that your grind isn't too fine and that you don't tamp or pack the coffee, thus restricting water flow. Follow those two simple rules and you're set.
Second, the quality of brew exceeds that of a standard K-Cup IMHO. One of my long-standing reasons that I prefer pods over K-Cups comes down to the experience in the cup. The 'Green" factor is definitely a decision point as well, but I really like a full-bodied coffee with a rich mouth feel. It's really hard IMHO to get that experience in a K-Cup. What I found when using the Solofill Cup was a cup with a richer mouth feel and a fuller body than when using a standard K-Cup. To prove this was always the case, I conducted an experiment. First, I brewed a GMCR Dark Magic Extra Bold K-Cup at the 7.25 oz brew size. Next, I emptied the contents of a new GMCR Extra Bold K-Cup into the Solofill Cup and brewed it in the Keurig at the same brew size. My first observation was that the amount of coffee in the Extra Bold K-Cup was at the absolute limit of what the Solofill Cup can hold. That was important because it wouldn't make sense to compare using different amounts of coffee. It also gives you an idea of what the Solofill Cup is capable of should you choose to buy one for yourself. In the cup, I noticed some very noticeable differences in the mouth feel and overall richness of the brew. I much preferred the same coffee brewed using the Solofill Cup over the K-Cup. The best way to describe the difference is to say that the mouth feel is more like what you would get from a French Press or when using a Swissgold filter vs. a paper filter. The Stainless mesh filter on the Solofill Cup is fine enough that you don't get the grit like you can in a French Press, but it also lets all of the essential oils pass through which is clearly visible on the surface of your brewed coffee.
Third, the cleanup was acceptable given the need to dump the grounds and rinse the cup. I found that using the edge of the trash can like a knock box removed all of the grounds and only left a slight residue to rinse out. This is important to me as I am on a septic system and not a public sewer. A big plus for the Solofill Cup is that the lid is attached. You won't find yourself accidentally throwing out the lid when you dump your grounds. The cleanup certainly was not as easy as removing a paper filter or regular K-Cup, but no harder than the My K-Cup.
While not designed or intended for this purpose, I wanted to see if the Solofill cup could also be used as a way to brew soft coffee pods in your Keurig. Many people don't want to grind their own beans and like the convenience of a K-Cup or Pod. To conduct this test and brew the pod in the Solofill Cup, I pinched the sides of a Fratello Organic Dixie Voodoo pod which formed a ball-shape and then placed it in the Solofill Cup. I cut a small slit in the top center of the pod to allow the water to enter and insure a proper extraction. I also brewed this pod on the 7.25 oz brew size, however the Fratello pod only has about 10 grams of coffee which is slightly less than an Extra Bold K-Cup. While Dark Magic and Dixie Voodoo aren't the same coffee, my results were somewhat similar. Mouth feel and overall body were similar between the pod and regular K-Cup. Having the paper pod filter within the secondary stainless filter resulted in a thinner body and mouth feel than say from an OPOD; however the results were quite similar to the Dark Magic K-Cup. The Solofill Cup results were certainly better. I also tested dumping the contents of a Fratello Dixie Voodoo pod into the Solofill Cup and brewed at 7.25 oz that way. This result was clearly better than the pod inside the Solofill Cup.
You may ask why would you want to dump the contents of a pod into the Solofill Cup? To me the answer is simple - you want to enjoy coffees that you can only find in a pod, but you don't want to buy a new brewer or you don't own a grinder and still like the variety that SSC delivers. If you love Peet's Major Dickason's Blend and that's all you drink it isn't a big deal to buy a bag and grind beans for each cup you brew or to buy it pre-ground and use a 12 oz. bag fairly quickly. Buying small enough quantities of 100% Kona or JBM on the other hand and keeping it fresh for the occasional cup is another dilemma altogether. You can buy a box of 18 nitrogen flushed pods, knowing that you'll only drink 1 or 2 cups of 100% Kona a week and that it will stay fresh that way. Tear open a pod, dump it into the Solofill Cup and off you go.
Overall, I can say that the Solofill Cup is a winner. Not only will it allow you to brew any coffee of your choice in the Keurig, it can do it with even better results than a normal K-Cup. That's a Win-Win for Keurig owners. You can reduce your environmental impact by eliminating the plastic waste associated with K-Cups while enjoying a superior brew quality. Want 100% Kona or a single-origin coffee that you can't find in a K-Cup? - this could be your answer.
So how did we score?
1. Ease of use: A
2. Quality of brew: A
3. Ease of cleanup: B
Overall Score: A
We'll be placing an order for these on Monday and should have them available for sale very soon.
250+ Coffee and Tea Pods from The Coffee Artisan, Fratello, Cafejo, Reunion Island, Baronet, Solera, Organa, City Steam, Barnie's, JavaOne, Melitta and Wolfgang Puck
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