Can I Bring Coffee On a Plane

For all the coffee lovers out there, drinking a cup of coffee is one of the essential morning traditions we can never skip. However, what if you are planning to go abroad and you want to know if your favorite coffee beans can pass through the security checkpoint of the TSA. Well, for today I would like to discuss with you the rule of thumb that applies when carrying coffee on a plane. Here’s what I’ve got:

Carrying coffee in the form of solid is permissible to hand-carry such as coffee capsules and coffee beans. The recommended amount you can pack in your carry-on should be not more than 12 ounces. On the other hand, carrying liquid coffee is not allowable, as the rule for liquids (3-1-1 rule) applies here.

However, there are restrictions when it comes to ground coffee since these are powdery substances and must observe the powder rule when traveling to the US.

Later on, I will tell you everything you need to know about coffee, the specific rule that applies for domestic and international flights, and the shelf life of your ground coffee when packed in your luggage.

Hand luggage rule when you bring coffee on board

Nothing can compare to the happiness you will experience when you wake up in a beautiful place while sipping your favorite French vanilla coffee. However, wait, before you go into daydreaming, just make sure that your favorite ground coffee can pass the security checkpoint at the airport.

To know further about this powder rule, you need to know first what this is all about.

On June 30, 2018, this powder rule has been imposed on all the boarding passengers when traveling to the US. On the said rule, it states that all powdery substances such as cosmetics, spices, flour, and even coffee should only be carried limited to 350 mL or 12 ounces.

Hence, any powdery substances greater than 350mL or 12 ounces must be placed in checked baggage rather than hand luggage. However, some officials require “secondary screening” prior onboard and when they cannot clearly identify it, bid your farewell to your powdered coffee because he can no longer be with you onboard, Ouch!

Note: These items are “exemption to the rule”

  • Baby formula powder
  • Urn contents
  • Medicated powders

Checked baggage rule for coffee

Fortunately, you can bring your favorite coffee when you put them in checked baggage. This applies to all forms of coffee such as solid (beans, capsules, etc.) and liquid. On the other hand, the powder rule imposed when you travel with coffee powder in the USA does not apply with checked baggage. This provision is only applicable to carry-on luggage.

Therefore, you can transport coffee beans, ground coffee, and other forms of soluble coffee in greater quantities than 350mL or 12 ounces per container, if these items will be transported through-checked baggage.

Can I bring the whole coffee machine onboard?

Are you worried about transporting coffee beans or coffee capsules inside the plane? Well, why don’t you try bringing your whole Nespresso machine in your hand luggage, sounds crazy right? Nevertheless, you can actually do this. Promise!

Here are the reminders you must need to know when bringing coffee machine onboard:

Make sure you emptied your coffee machine’s water tank

I know this might sound foolish, but who would actually think of bringing the coffee machine with water inside? Not only looking like a fool, but you also will encounter some security checkpoint problems because of the liquid rule that applies to hand luggage. Here is a helpful site you can read beforehand to know about this liquid rule at the airport.

Follow and comply with the hand luggage regulations about weight and size

There are other things to consider aside from the liquid rule and powder rule at the security checkpoints of TSA. You must also take into consideration the hand luggage rules regarding the weight and size of the items you wish to bring onboard.

The smallest Nespresso machine that you can find on Amazon, weighs only 5.1 lbs. or approximately 2.3 kg alone. This is the Nespresso by De’Longhi Essenza Mini and has a customer review of 4.8 out of 5 stars based on satisfied users.

Nespresso Essenza Mini

Some airlines allow only 5-6 kg of hand luggage, though his might be too heavy already. To give you an overview of the hand luggage rules, here is a run-down of some major airlines’ policies:

Luggage Policies for Airlines

AirlineAllowed size in inchesAllowed weight in kilograms
Alaska Airlines24 x 17 x 10No weight limit specified on their website
Allegiant Air9 x 14 x 22No weight limit specified on their website
American Airlines22 x 14 x 9No weight limit specified on their website
Delta Air Lines22 x 14 x 9No weight limit specified on their website
Frontier Airlines24 x 16 x 10
Note: carryon bag is not free
16 kg
Note: carryon bag is not free
Hawaiian Airlines22 x 14 x 911.3 kg
JetBlue22 x 14 x 9
Sum of 3 dimensions maximum of 45 linear inches
Has no weight limit for carryon bags
Southwest Airlines10 x 6 x 24No weight limit specified on their website
Spirit Airlines22 x 18 x 10No weight limit specified on their website
United Airlines9 x 10 x 17
Note: size limit for personal items for Economy Basic Passengers
No weight limit specified

For Economy Basic Passengers, only one personal item onboard and no full size hang luggage bag

This table will come in handy because you can have a glimpse or an estimate of how much hand luggage you can bring on onboard of your chosen airline you will be flying with.

To know further all the rules for domestic and international flights when you bring coffee onboard here is the list of tables, to sum up, all the things you need to know whether you put your coffee grounds on hand luggage or check baggage.

Rules for Bringing Ground Coffee
Bringing Ground Coffee On Domestic Flights (Within USA)
Carry-on Baggage:YES, however quantities larger than 12 ounces should be put in checked luggage
Checked Luggage:YES
Bringing Ground Coffee On International Flights (From USA)
Carry-on Baggage:YES, however quantities larger than 12 ounces should be put in checked luggage
Checked Luggage:YES
Bringing Ground Coffee Into the USA From International Flights
Carry-on or checked luggageYES in most cases, however, whole coffee berries are prohibited at all US ports entry because of the exotic fruit-fly risk.

For roasted coffee and green coffee beans, international travelers can import unlimited quantities of these items, provided that you declare all agricultural products at the entry

Bottom line: You can bring ground coffee onboard as long as it follows the 12 ounces or less for powder rule

Sources: Transportation Security Admission, U.S Customs, and Border Protection

By the way, did you know the shelf life of coffee can vary depending on the container?

Shelf-Life Of Ground Coffee In Your Luggage
Fresh ground coffee (not vacuum-packed)1 to 2 weeks at room temperature
Commercially vacuum-packedNot indicated
Unopened10 to 12 months at room temperature
Opened1 to 2 weeks at room temperature

Types of Food you can bring through security checkpoints of TSA

While serving complimentary airline meals became a thing during your onboard flight, you might still be wondering whether you can bring your own food at the security checkpoints. Well, according to TSA, you can actually bring food on your carry-on luggage, as long they will fall on these three categories:

Liquid/Liquid-Type Foods

Here are some of the common foods and drinks that fall under the TSA liquid rule for taking these items as “food”, therefore restricted in the 3-1-1 liquid rule:

  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Jam and jelly
  • Yogurt
  • Honey
  • Barbecue sauce and other forms of sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive oil
  • Salad dressing
  • Soup

Powder/ Powder Like Foods

Here are the foods that fall under the TSA’s powder screening regulations:

NOTE: Limit the quantity to not greater than 12 ounces or 350mL

  • Ground coffee
  • Tea bags and loose tea
  • Instant coffee
  • Powdered drink mixes
  • Ground spices
  • Powdered coffee creamer

Solid Food

Here are the solid items you can bring without restrictions unless they fit on your allowable carry-on baggage:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Fresh cut fruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Dry cereal
  • Nuts
  • Cookies
  • Chocolates
  • Pizza
  • Fried chicken
  • Green salad

Can I bring coffee on board after I passed the security checkpoints?

The answer is, YES. You are free to buy and bring any drink, including coffee, at the airport once you passed the TSA security checkpoints. Actually, you can bring an empty bottle or your travel coffee mug and fill it with soft drinks or coffee at any kiosk machine that offers.

In addition to this, there are some gift shops where you can purchase bottled water or canned soft drinks, for this purpose it can help you save from spending overcharged drinks on the plane.

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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