Can You Buy Coffee With Food Stamps

The supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), known as food stamps, helps low-income families purchase nutritious food and essential household items. The program has strict guidelines for what items can be purchased with benefits. Many people wonder, “Can I buy coffee with EBT?”

Coffee is a popular drink, and it can be purchased in different forms, like instant coffee, ground coffee, and pre-packaged coffee grounds. Additionally, ready-to-drink coffee and coffee from coffee shops are also widely available. But does EBT cover you buying coffee with food of this type?

According to the USDA guidelines, SNAP benefits can only purchase eligible food items for human consumption. While coffee is not explicitly mentioned as an eligible item, it can be purchased with food stamps if it meets specific criteria. 

coffee bags

For example, coffee beans or pre-packaged coffee grounds are considered eligible items since they are intended for human consumption and do not contain any luxury items. However, hot coffee or coffee drinks from coffee shops are not eligible because they are considered prepared foods. 

In our guide, you can learn more about can I buy coffee with my ebt card. By the end, you’ll better understand the nutrition help program snap and what supplemental nutrition assistance programs SNAP recipients can and can’t buy under the food stamp program. (Read Can You Put Creamer In Tea)

What are Food Stamps?

Suppose you are a low-income individual or family. In that case, you may be eligible to receive food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Help Program (SNAP) benefits, to help you purchase nutritious food. The SNAP program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides help to millions of Americans each year.

SNAP is distributed through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. You can use your EBT card to purchase eligible food items at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and even online retailers like Amazon that accept food stamps for eligible foods.

It’s important to note that SNAP benefits cannot buy vitamins, non-food items like pet food, or gift baskets; they are purely to buy food to get by. Additionally, certain food items like energy drinks and margarita mix are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Suppose you are unsure whether a specific item is eligible for purchase with your SNAP benefits. You can check the Supplemental Nutrition Help Program (SNAP) toll-free number or visit the USDA website for more information.

Stores that accept food stamps have signs on the front door.

How to Buy Coffee With Food Stamps

If you receive the Supplemental Nutrition Help Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, you may wonder whether you can use your benefits to purchase coffee. The answer is yes, you can buy coffee with food stamps, but there are some limitations on what types of coffee you can buy and where you can buy it.

Here’s what you need to know:

Verifying Funds

Before you head to the store to buy coffee with your EBT card, you should first verify the funds available on your card. You can check your balance online, by phone, or at an ATM. Ensure you have enough funds to cover the cost of the coffee you want to buy. (Read Do Starbucks Refreshers Have Caffeine)

Locating a Participating Retailer

Not all retailers accept EBT cards, so you’ll need to find a participating retailer that sells eligible food items. Most grocery stores and farmers’ markets accept EBT cards, but some smaller stores may not. You can use the USDA’s SNAP Retail Locator tool to find participating retailers near you.

Selecting Food Items for Purchase

Once you’ve found a participating retailer, you must select eligible food items. You can buy pre-packaged coffee grounds or ready-to-drink cold coffee beverages. However, you cannot use food stamps to buy hot coffee or coffee drinks at coffee shops or restaurants.

EBT Transaction

When you’re ready to purchase, swipe your EBT card at the checkout and enter your PIN. The cost of the eligible food items you’ve selected will be deducted from your EBT balance. Ensure to keep your receipt as proof of purchase.

Overall, buying coffee with food stamps is possible, but there are restrictions on what types of coffee you can buy and where you can buy it. Stick to buying pre-packaged coffee grounds or ready-to-drink cold coffee beverages at participating retailers, and verify your EBT balance before purchasing.

What You Can Buy with SNAP

fruits and vegetables for sale

If you’re a SNAP recipient, you may wonder what you can buy with your benefits. The USDA has guidelines determining what can and cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits.

Here’s a breakdown of the following items you can buy :

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Other foods like snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household members to eat

You may ask, can you buy hot coffee with EBT? You can’t buy hot coffee with your EBT card, yet you can purchase pre-packaged coffee grounds or ready-to-drink cold coffee beverages.

You can also buy coffee beans to make at home. Additionally, you can purchase essential household items, like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products, as long as they are not considered luxury items.

Most grocery stores accept SNAP benefits, and some farmer’s markets are also fair game. It’s important to note that EBT cards, also known as electronic benefits transfer cards, work like a debit card. You can only spend the amount on your card and not more than that amount.

Note: Energy drinks are a rare example. If a drink such as Red Bull is labeled “supplement facts,” it can’t be purchased. However, if it has the title “Nutrition facts,” they can be purchased at places that accept food stamps. (Learn How Many Spoonful Of Coffee Per Cup)

Things You Can’t Buy With SNAP

While SNAP electronic benefits can purchase a wide variety of food items, there are some things you cannot buy with SNAP. Here are some examples:

Alcohol and Cigarettes

You cannot use food stamps to purchase alcohol, wine, liquor, beer, cigarettes, or tobacco. These items are not considered to be necessities for a household.


Toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. These items are considered to be non-food items and are not considered to be necessities for a household.

Pet Food

You cannot use SNAP benefits to purchase pet food. While pets are important to many households, SNAP benefits are intended to purchase food for human consumption only.

Grocery Bag Fees

You cannot use SNAP benefits to pay for grocery bag fees. While some stores charge a fee for bags, this fee is not considered a food item and is not eligible for purchase with food stamps.

Live Animals

You cannot use SNAP benefits to purchase live animals. This includes animals that are intended for human consumption, like livestock, as well as pets.

Does EBT Cover Coffee At Starbucks?

Starbucks coffee

If you’re a coffee lover, you might wonder if you can use your food stamps to purchase coffee at Starbucks. The answer is not straightforward, as it depends on the location of Starbucks and the type of coffee you want to buy using food stamps.

First, it’s important to note that corporate-owned Starbucks locations do not accept SNAP benefits as payment. However, some licensed Starbucks stores inside other stores, like Target or grocery stores, may accept SNAP benefits. It’s best to ask the customer service provider at the specific location to determine if they accept SNAP benefits. (Read Can You Pour Boiling Water Into Glass)

Second, even if the licensed Starbucks location accepts SNAP benefits, you cannot use your EBT card to purchase hot coffee or other prepared foods or drinks. This includes hot coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, and other similar items. However, you can use your SNAP benefits to purchase coffee beans, ground coffee to make at home, ready-to-drink cold coffee beverages intended for home consumption, and the like of K Cups.

It’s important to note that the nutrition assistance program SNAP program helps low-income families purchase food products and basic needs items, and not luxury items like energy drinks, junk food, or gift baskets. The USDA guidelines provide a toll-free number that SNAP and food stamp recipients can call to ask questions about eligible food stamp items and the SNAP program.