Designer imagines sweet solution for single-serve coffee

The Droops Coffee Maker concept by Eason Chow

A creative sugar-based concept by Singaporean designer Eason Chow addresses the issue of waste produced by single-use coffee pods while infusing a little sweetness in every cup.

Single-serve coffee machines -- Keurig, Nespresso, etc. -- remain highly in demand, but the ecological effects of their disposable pods are the subject of much stress among coffee lovers.

Chow's proposed solution? The Droops coffee maker, which would use pods coated in a hard casing of sugar that could be tailored to the drinker's taste, using more or less sugar and infusing flavors as desired. Inside would be a layer of cream or milk, with the coffee powder in the center like a traditional capsule.

The design of the coffee maker itself is minimalist, with an approach intended to be non-intimidating. Three components -- a heater, a three-liter water container and a pump -- stack together into a compact form.

Chow's design remains in the conceptual phase for now, although he told Relaxnews that he was "definitely looking into the possibility to develop the design."

In the meantime, what's a coffee-pod lover to do?

Concerns about waste have inspired several innovations, with Chow's perhaps the most creative to date.

Even John Sylvan, inventor of the popular Keurig K-Cup, expressed regret over his invention in an interview with The Atlantic this month and said he had dreamed up an idea for a more environmentally friendly version, although the company has yet to put it into action.

Keurig loyals will be pleased to know that the company has pledged to shift to a recyclable format for its K-Cups by 2020, and many brands have created workarounds for the Keurig machine.

Nespresso collects used capsules for recycling, and Senseo's pods are biodegradable.

But less waste doesn't mean zero waste, so those who want the benefits of the capsule system without the ecological drawbacks may have to look to creative designs like Chow's for new ways to get their daily brew.