The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that supports low-income Americans in purchasing food items using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. This monthly food program, previously known as food stamps, restricts what type of food items you can buy with the card.
Coffee is one such item, whereby you can purchase packaged coffee grounds/beans using food stamps, but not hot coffee drinks.
How to buy coffee with food stamps
Once you’ve successfully signed up for the SNAP program and received your EBT card, making monthly purchases shouldn’t’ be hard. The card works the same way as a regular debit or credit card. To successfully buy coffee with food stamps, apply the following steps:
i. Verify your EBT card balance
ii. Locate an authorized SNAP retailer
iii. Select the SNAP-eligible coffee products
iv. Complete the payment transaction
Verify available funds
Start by verifying the funds available on your card to buy coffee with food stamps. To do this, contact the toll-free number behind the card. Enter the 19-digit card number for information about your balance. Meanwhile, if you still have the receipt from your most recent food stamp purchase, you’ll find the balance information at the bottom of the receipt.
Locate an authorized SNAP retailer
After confirming that you have sufficient funds, head out to a participating retailer. You won’t be able to make purchases with food stamps at stores that don’t’ accept SNAP benefits.
Participating convenience stores usually have the EBT logo posted at the entrance. Alternatively, you can reach out to your state’s health and human services department for help with situating participating retailers.
Select the coffee products
Once you’ve located a store that accepts food stamps, pick the food items you wish to buy. In this case, you may select packaged coffee grounds or coffee beans. However, the purchase of hot coffee drinks is prohibited by the program. Thus, you may not be able to buy ready-to-drink hot coffee using your EBT card.
After purchasing the packaged coffee grounds/beans, you’ll have to brew your own coffee drinks at home. Take note that you can buy ready-to-drink cold coffee beverages using food stamps. The restriction is only on hot coffee drinks.
Complete the payment transaction
After picking up the coffee products, let the cashier know that you would like to pay using food stamps and pass the EBT card through the reader. Then, choose the ”Food” option and key in your 4-digit pin. The cost of the coffee products will be deducted from the total amount on your EBT card, and you’ll be handed a receipt to complete the transaction.
Does EBT cover coffee?
SNAP guidelines note that you cannot use your EBT card to purchase hot food items at the point of sale. As such, EBT doesn’t’ cover hot coffee drinks. However, you can buy cold coffee drinks such as iced lattes and frappuccinos using your EBT card. The program also allows for purchasing packaged coffee grounds and coffee beans.
Can you use your EBT card at Starbucks?
Typically, Starbucks doesn’t’ accept SNAP EBT card payments. That’s because the franchise is generally perceived as a luxury brand and thus isn’t’ an approved SNAP retailer.
However, this is only exclusively true for company-operated/standalone Starbucks stores, as some retail stores that house Starbucks locations accept SNAP benefits. Examples of popular retailers that accept food stamps and also house Starbucks stores are Safeway, Publix, and Target.
However, even if you find a participating Starbucks location, you’ll only be able to purchase cold foods like cold-brew coffee drinks and fresh pumpkin bread using your EBT card due to the program’s restrictions on hot food items.
Note: Not all corporate Starbucks stores take EBT. The ones that do consider it as an added convenience to their customers.
What can I buy with a SNAP EBT card?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you can use your SNAP EBT card to purchase the following kinds of food items:
i. Dairy products
ii. Meat, fish, and poultry
iii. Fruits and vegetables
iv. Bread and cereals
v. Non-alcoholic drinks
vi. Cold drinks like fountain drinks, slushies, iced coffee, smoothies
vii. Snack foods
viii. Seeds and plants that produce edible food
However, the SNAP program prohibits the purchase of the following types of foods using the EBT card:
i. Alcoholic drinks
ii. Food supplements
iii. Live animals
iv. Food items that are hot at the point of sale, such as freshly-baked items or freshly-brewed beverages like hot coffee, tea, and lattes.
i. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – What Can SNAP Buy?
ii. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Are drinks (hot coffee, tea, fountain drinks, slushies, iced coffee, coffee, smoothies, etc.) eligible for purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits?