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Does Ground Coffee Really Have Cockroaches in It? The Facts & How To Avoid It

cockroach floating on a cup of coffee

If the thought of a cockroach racing across your kitchen floor gives you the heebie-jeebies, turn back now. You may not want to hear the news we’re about to share. Then again, if you’re a coffee-lover, you may have already heard this news, dealt with it, and carried on with your life. Now, you may be curious as to why cockroaches and coffee are being mentioned together. Perhaps you’ve heard the rumors about the relationships between these bugs that give us nightmares and the morning drink we all love. But here’s the big question, does ground coffee really have cockroaches in it?

Yes, this rumor has been running around for a few years now. Most of us have tried to ignore it or hope it is not true. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The answer is yes, ground coffee does have traces of cockroaches lurking inside the prepackaged can or bag. Now, before you panic and claim you’ll never drink another cup of coffee, let’s look at this shocking information a little more.

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How Do Cockroaches Get Inside My Coffee?

Unfortunately, when dealing with large quantities of coffee beans, it’s difficult to keep bugs from making their way into the pile. Now, can you imagine how hard it would be to sift through all of those beans and pick each bug out? It would be practically impossible. Instead, the cockroaches and other bugs are ground along with the coffee as it is processed.

Yes, if you’re hearing this for the first time, it is a bit staggering. You are most likely thinking the places where your coffee is processed are nasty or unsanitary. That isn’t the case, however. Infestations are something coffee producers and others in the food industry are constantly fighting. Sometimes, however, the little critters win.

Cockroaches eating coffee beans
Image Credit: P. Butthong, Shutterstock

Is This Even Allowed?

Our foods and beverages here in the US are closely monitored by The Food and Drug Administration. Surely they wouldn’t let us drink ground coffee if it has bugs, right? Not necessarily. As it turns out, the FDA has found that up to 10% of coffee beans that are ground for us to consume contain ground-up cockroaches and other insects. And yes, this is allowed.

Before you panic, you must understand that this isn’t the case only for coffee. There are other foods you consume that have low levels of insects, bug residue, or larvae inside. While you may be grossed out at this thought, that doesn’t mean it’s always harmful. Many cultures eat bugs as part of their main diet and claim they are great sources of protein.

Are Cockroaches In My Coffee Dangerous?

It’s only natural to wonder about the dangers of ingesting cockroaches in your ground coffee. People can have allergic reactions to cockroaches. These little bugs are also known to be hard on people with asthma. If you deal with any of these allergies or perhaps have breathing issues, it may be best for you to avoid pre-ground coffee as part of your morning ritual.

hand holding cockroach in front of coffee machine
Image Credit: MR.RAWIN-TANPIN, Shutterstock

How the Story Unfolded…

Now that you’re aware you could be drinking ground cockroaches in your coffee, you may be wondering where this information came from. You can thank Dr. Douglas Emlan, an entomologist, for this tasty tidbit of information. During an interview, Dr. Emlan told the story of traveling with another entomologist and biologist as the man searched for a cup of freshly ground coffee.

As it turns out, the other doctor was a coffee fanatic who had developed an allergy to cockroaches during his years of working with them. According to him, he had an allergic reaction each time he enjoyed a cup of coffee that wasn’t freshly ground thanks to the cockroaches included inside. His allergy and reaction were the reason he had to find freshly ground coffee to drink instead of ground coffee bought at the store.

Can I Avoid Ground Cockroaches in My Coffee?

Here’s the good news. If you want to steer clear of ground coffee with the added protein of cockroaches, you can. By choosing to buy whole, fair trade, coffee beans there will be no worries of finding bugs inside. Whole beans that are sold on the market are inspected more and are free of cockroaches and other insects. You can simply grind your own beans and make a fresh cup of coffee to enjoy that is bug protein-free.

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Final Thoughts

Learning that your favorite brands of ground coffee at the supermarket have cockroaches hiding inside the can may be hard to swallow, both figuratively and literally. It isn’t something to boycott coffee over. If you can’t handle the idea of a few bugs you can’t see inside your cup or have allergies that could be flared thanks to these critters and not the coffee, you have another option. Grind your own beans and include an even fresher cup of coffee when the mood hits you.

Featured Image Credit: halimqd, Shutterstock


Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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