Different airports have different rules on permitting coffee grounds aboard flights. In the USA, you may or may not be allowed to bring coffee grounds on a plane, depending on different situations. The amount of coffee you’re carrying or how you’ve packaged it also determines whether you’ll be allowed to bring it along your flight or not.
Can you bring coffee grounds on a plane?
As per the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you can bring ground coffee on a flight. While this rule is straightforward for domestic flights and flights coming into the USA, it’s subject to misinterpretation for international flights going out of the country. That’s because some countries don’t allow travelers to bring coffee grounds, primarily due to ecological concerns.
In such instances, US customs officials may allow you to bring the coffee onboard the departing flight, but you may not be allowed to get it to the foreign destination once you arrive. Upon arrival in the foreign country, you’ll have to declare the coffee in that country, whether it’s permissible or not.
You should also declare ground coffee at customs if you’re bringing it into the US from abroad. Declining your coffee at customs starts with filling out the Customs Declaration Form. Once the coffee is declared free of pests and diseases according to the rules of the Customs Border Protection (CBP) agency, you’ll be allowed to bring it into the country.
In certain instances, such as if the coffee grounds are for commercial purposes, you may be required to talk to a customs officer during the declaration process. The officer may need you to file a declaration and pay duty taxes.
The declaration process may be time-consuming, but that shouldn’t mislead you into avoiding declaring your coffee upon arrival. Failure to report food in your luggage can attract hefty fines of up to $10,000 as airport officials randomly search arriving passengers. Moreover, clearing the ground coffee after failing to declare is even more time-consuming.
Note: In the USA, you can carry coffee grounds as part of your checked luggage on a domestic flight.
How to carry coffee on a plane?
The proper way to carry coffee on a plane depends on the amount of coffee. If the coffee exceeds 12 ounces and you place it in your carry-on luggage, the TSA agents at the security checkpoint may disallow you from bringing the coffee onboard.
That’s because powder-like food substances like ground coffee raise security concerns during the screening process whenever they are over 12 ounces. The excess coffee grounds may obstruct clear images on the X-ray screening machine.
Therefore, if you have ground coffee exceeding 12 ounces, bring it inside your checked luggage, and it will be allowed entry.
For fast and convenient processing at the airport, carry roasted coffee beans or coffee grounds in their original packaging. TSA doesn’t check processed foods packed in their original retail packaging.
However, if you have to repackage your coffee for one reason or another, pack them inside a resealable bag for easier TSA inspection. Preferably, the resealable bag should be airtight to maintain the freshness of your coffee for longer.
Additionally, if you’re carrying the coffee bag inside your carry-on baggage, ensure the carry-on bag is not cluttered. The various items in a cluttered bag usually blur images during the X-ray screening process.
You can also bring a coffee drink on your flight if you buy it after you’ve passed through security. Some airport stores that are located after the security checkpoint sell coffee drinks. If you have a travel mug, make sure it’s empty before you pass through security. You won’t be allowed to pass with it through security if it has any coffee drinks. However, You can fill the empty mug with coffee bought from the airport stores once you’re passed security and bring it on the plane.
How much coffee can you take on a plane?
If you’re coming into the US, you can bring in an unlimited amount of roasted coffee beans through any US airport. There is a caveat: you must declare the coffee with customs. The above rules also apply for green coffee beans, only that you can’t bring them in through Hawaii or Puerto Rico airports.
If the amount of coffee you intend to travel with is 12 ounces or less, you can bring it inside your carry-on baggage. However, if it exceeds this amount, you should place it in checked luggage.
If you’re traveling to a country within the European Union (EU), such as Spain, France, or Italy, the maximum amount of coffee you can bring along on your flight is 6 kilograms, so long as you can fit it inside your duty-free luggage. However, this rule doesn’t apply to liquid coffee.
4 Best coffee bags for traveling
Suppose you want to enjoy your coffee while on the move; consider investing in a coffee bag/travel kit. A good coffee bag should contain coffee supplies and equipment such as travel mugs, a hand grinder, a coffee grounds storage container, a coffee maker, and a carry case.
Here are 4 of the best coffee bags you should check out:
i. The Handpresso Outdoor Espresso Set
ii. The Prima Coffee Travel Kit
iii. The Rambler (Stumptown Coffee) coffee bag
iv. Timbuk2 X Blue Bottle Travel Kit
The Handpresso Outdoor Espresso Set
This portable espresso machine features 16 bar pressure for high-quality espresso brews while traveling. It also comes with four coffee cups and an insulated hot water flask. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature a hand grinder.
The Prima Coffee Travel Kit
This beautifully designed coffee bag boasts an AeroPress coffee machine and a slim hand grinder, ensuring you brew great-tasting coffee drinks while on the go. There’s also a 16.9-ounce travel kettle for storing hot water. On the downside, though, this kit doesn’t feature any travel coffee mugs.
The Rambler (Stumptown Coffee) coffee bag
This handy travel kit from Stumptown coffee comes with a waterproof carry bag to keep your coffee grounds and equipment dry when traveling in rainy weather. Other supplies and accessories included in the pack; are a 12-ounce bag of Air Bender coffee, a mini grinder, an AeroPress brewing machine, and two travel mugs.
Timbuk2 X Blue Bottle Travel Kit
Here’s a coffee bag/kit that’s functional and aesthetically beautiful. The Timbuk2 coffee travel kit features a sleekly-designed carry-on bag with a modern feel. It also features a travel dripper, two tumblers, and a hand grinder.
i. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Coffee- Beans or Ground