Like most countries in the world, Mexico is pretty strict on if you bring food or drink within its borders.
However, coffee is the lifeblood of many, and I understand what it's like wondering if a place will carry your favorite coffee beans.
If you need clarification on whether or not you can bring coffee from Mexico to US or vice-versa, I have you covered! Let's jump right in!
Can I Bring Coffee To Mexico When Traveling?
When it comes to coffee beans, roasted coffee, finely ground coffee, and so on, you can take virtually unlimited quantities to bring into Mexico.
Of course, it must be for your personal consumption rather than selling it in any way to anyone else.
Not only that, but your coffee will be easier to pass through if it’s in the original packaging. You can also bring enough medicine for your own personal use (in which case, mine is also coffee).
The Mexican Customs Office isn't going to think twice about you bringing coffee into the country.
What they're more concerned about is bringing in seeds, fresh plants (careful with granola bars, trail mix, and the like), flowers, spices, fresh fruit and veggies, dairy products (vacuum-packed milk and cheese are permitted if properly labeled), flour, and cornmeal.
Turkey, chicken, pork, beef, and homemade food of any kind are strictly prohibited. Food safety and quality are both very important.
Can I Bring K-Cups into Mexico?
As K-cups are considered "food," you can absolutely bring them into Mexico as long as it's just dry, ground coffee inside.
However, if you plan to bring along more than 30 to 40, be prepared for the Mexican Customs Office to stop you and maybe even conduct more inspections.
If it’s a cold brew coffee pod with liquid inside, you won’t be able to bring them in hand luggage. If you do, they’ll be confiscated.
Can I Bring Coffee Back From Mexico When Traveling?
Travelers are permitted to bring unlimited quantities of roasted coffee in their personal luggage when traveling from Mexico back into the US.
Finely ground coffee, coffee beans, and green (unroasted) whole beans are allowed back into the US. You can import these freely.
When arriving in the US from Mexico or another country abroad, it's important to declare the food item. It's really just a formality, but it's better to do it than to get caught later on.
However, you must never take in whole coffee berries (not to be confused with whole beans), also known as "coffee cherries."
These are considered to be seeds, and the pulp presents an exotic fruit-fly risk; thus, they are not permitted anywhere in the US.
K-cups with dried ground coffee inside are also permitted to be brought back into the US in your hand or checked luggage.
K-cups with liquid inside will have to follow the regular liquid rules, which means they have to be in 3.4 oz. containers or smaller and be placed in a 1-liter, resealable bag, with 1 bag permitted per person.
This usually equals around 25 pods you can get away with in your carry-on.
The TSA-Friendly Way To Pack Coffee!
TSA is everyone's favorite people when flying. We all know that they're famously difficult and seem to look for any little thing to haggle you with.
If you want to make sure your coffee also makes it to your destination, follow these tips whether you're traveling by airline or driving.
I fly almost every weekend and quickly have learned that you can make things a billion times easier on yourself by just checking in anything you're iffy about - particularly food items like coffee beans or ground coffee.
That's not to say you can't take your ground coffee in your hand luggage, because you can.
However, you may still have to go through additional revisions if a TSA agent is feeling particularly grumpy that day.
TSA officers may tell you to separate your coffee from your carry-on if it's in any way obstructing clear images on the X-ray machine. Try to keep everything organized.
If you’re bringing liquid coffee of any kind, just immediately put it in your checked bag.
Coffee K-cups and pods are already packaged in a way that they're pretty safe on any flight and resist heat and cold very well.
However, if you'd like to add an extra layer of safety, place the pods in Ziploc bags and place each bag between soft items like clothing to offer additional cushioning.
Avoid placing very heavy or bulky items next to them, as they could squish them.
Bags of ground coffee and whole beans are also packaged in a way that makes them less vulnerable to damage.
If you're driving into either Mexico or the US with coffee (ground or beans), you're going to have a much easier time than while flying.
If you're driving into Mexico, chances are you aren't even going to come into contact with Mexican Customs - you literally just keep driving, and you're suddenly in Mexico.
If you're driving into the US, you can tell them you have coffee. In fact, it's a smart idea to always declare coffee, along with any snacks and other imported food items.
I can tell you that I’ve driven over the border countless times over the last almost 10 years and have never once had a border official give me a hard time about coffee.
They’re much more lenient than TSA when traveling by airline.
The most important thing here is knowing which items are prohibited from being imported, which I've detailed at the beginning of this guide.
When driving, try to keep any food items you have safely packed and available for the agents to access easily.
If you’re bringing food, don’t keep it stored under 5 different bags so you hold up the entry line.
Border protection is much less likely to be lenient with you, as you’re creating more of a hassle for them.
Generally, this is a good rule of thumb, no matter what country you're traveling to.
What To Expect When You Go Through Customs in Mexico?
Customs in Mexico is one of the easiest of any country I've been to.
As long as you aren't bringing prohibited agricultural products, plants, flowers, etcetera, you're going to just be pushed on through the line.
Usually, when you arrive, you'll grab your luggage from the carousel and then head to a line for customs. There, agents will be waiting next to little booths with a red button.
They'll ask if you have anything to declare, and will then press the red button. If the button flashes, they'll check your bags. If not, you're free to go. It's all up to chance.
Related Importing Mexican Coffee Questions
Can I bring tea into America from Mexico?
Yes, you are allowed to bring certain foods like tea leaves (black tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea, white tea, and yellow tea) into the USA from abroad. Some teas have spices in them, and the vast majority are also generally permitted. Keep the tea in its original packaging during travel.
Can you bring a coffee maker on a plane?
Yes, TSA allows coffee and espresso makers on a plane as long as they have no sharp edges or liquid inside. Remember, though, that the TSA agent at the gate will have the final say on whether or not your device passes. For best results, pack your coffee maker in your checked luggage.
Bringing "food" like coffee into Mexico or from Mexico into the US doesn't have to be a pain. This foreign good is one of the easiest to bring from one place to the next.
So long as it's packaged well, importing coffee will likely not attract any attention. In fact, you can bring unlimited quantities if you follow the advice in this guide and do it the right way!