Traveling is stressful, especially when you can’t have all the comforts of home, like your bed, favorite chair, and most importantly, your favorite coffee. You want to make your trip better by bringing your coffee beans on the plane. Can you do this?
Yes, you can bring coffee beans or grounds on a plane in your carry-on or checked luggage. There are some tips to help the process go without any hiccups.
The answer is relatively the same across all the major airlines. Let’s take a better look at how you should bring coffee beans or grounds onto a plane.
Transportation Security Administration, TSA, and Coffee Beans
Besides missing your flight, nothing is worse than going through TSA at the airport and getting stopped, especially if you are running late. Getting flagged at TSA is typically due to something you’re carrying in your luggage.
With all of TSA’s rules and regulations, it’s often hard to know what exactly is allowed and what isn’t. So, when it comes to packing your bag with your favorite coffee beans or bringing some home from a vacation, you want to ensure you are within TSA regulations.
According the TSA website, coffee, whether it’s beans or ground, can be included in your carry-on and your checked luggage. This also includes coffee pods, coffee powder, instant coffee, and coffee machines.
“TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.”TSA
Their website does make a point to say that regardless of the item, airport security is ultimately allowed to deny any item entry onto the plane.
Tips for Bringing Coffee Beans or Grounds Through TSA
I recently took a plane back home and wanted to bring some Vietnamese coffee grounds back with me. After checking the airline’s website to confirm I could bring the coffee in my carry-on baggage, I packed it snuggly away amongst my clothes and belongings and was on my way.
When I got to TSA, my bag was flagged for the bag of coffee grounds I had brought. Although I was allowed to have it, I was stopped. They proceeded to go through my bag and confirm that it was, in fact, only coffee.
The next time I traveled with coffee grounds, I placed the bag of coffee in a separate bin through TSA to ensure I wouldn’t be stopped. The process went entirely more quickly this way.
Below are some of our top tips for traveling with either of bag of coffee beans or grounds.
Remove the bag of coffee from your luggage at TSA and place it in a separate bin.
If you are unwilling to remove coffee from your carry-on, at least pack it on top of your bag to make it easily assessable in case TSA wants to check it.
To ensure a TSA officer won’t prevent you from bringing your coffee on the plane, limit the amount you bring in for carry-on to 12 ounces. If it’s more than 12 ounces, it’s recommended to place it in a checked bag. There is not a limit to how much coffee you can bring in checked luggage.
“Powder-like substances greater than 12 oz. / 350 mL must be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening. They may require additional screening, and containers may need to be opened. For your convenience, we encourage you to place non-essential powders greater than 12 oz. in checked bags.”TSA
If your coffee is not in its original sealed packaging, it’s recommended to place it in a resealable plastic bag.
Can You Bring Coffee Beans or Grounds on an International Flight?
The quick and simple answer to whether you can bring coffee beans/grounds on an international flight is Yes. TSA applies the same rules to international flights as domestic flights.
Depending on your destination, the coffee may need to be in its original packaging and unopened to enter the country. This is typically not the case when traveling to most countries, but we do recommend checking with the destination you are traveling to.
Can you Bring Coffee Beans/Grounds into the U.S. From Another Country?
In almost all cases, coffee is allowed to enter the U.S. when traveling from other countries.
Even so, be sure to inform customs of all food, including coffee beans/grounds, you are bringing with you. You do not want to be caught with food items that you did not disclose to U.S. customs.
Can you Bring Coffee Grinders on a Plane?
Use caution when bringing coffee grinders on a plane. If your grinder contains blades, it must be stored in your checked luggage as it could be considered a weapon.
Burr mill grinders are allowed in your carry-on, although I always recommend packing it in your checked bag to avoid any issues.
How Much Liquid Coffee Can you Bring on an Airplane?
Liquid coffee is allowed in both your carry-on baggage and checked luggage, although they do have regulations. If packed in a carry-on, it must be less than or equal to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. Store it in a quart-sized bag.
If by mistake, the quantity is over 3.4 ounces; the TSA officer will require you to throw it away.
Will Coffee Beans Grow Stale in Your Luggage?
How long is the coffee bean lifespan on average anyway? Coffee beans aren’t going to stay fresh forever. Typically, if your coffee beans are unopened and stored in a vacuum-sealed container or bag, then the beans will keep for six to nine months.
Once you open them, your coffee beans are good for about six months. Keep in mind, though, that the longer they sit, the more they are oxidized; thus, the staler they are growing. So, even if they are edible, the faster they are used, the fresher your coffee will taste.
Coffee grounds go stale even faster since there is more surface area being oxidized. It’s always best to purchase beans over grounds.
To read more on why coffee becomes stale and how to keep them fresher longer, click here.
You can definitely bring your favorite coffee on vacation with you or bring some home with you. We suggest you follow our tips for traveling with coffee to ensure your experience with TSA goes smoothly and quickly.
If you’re looking for a great brewing device that can easily be taken with you on a plane, check out an Aeropress. They are compact and can fit in any suitcase.