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Your Coffee Has Ground Up Bugs In It

coffee ground cockroaches bugs cochineal

I’ll never forget the day I heard an NPR interview with entomologist Dr. Douglas Emlen about dung beetles. I normally would have tuned such stories out, but this one turned fascinating quite quickly. He broke the story in a live interview that most pre-ground coffee has ground cockroaches in it.

Apparently, it’s a not-so-secret industry secret. According to the FDA’s own studies, up to 10% (and often MORE) of green coffee beans are insect-infested. According to Dr. Emlen, they can’t be processed out, so they simply get roasted with the beans and ground up into them.

Imagine yourself relaxing to the voice of interviewer Terri Gross only to hear this anecdote:

Dr. EMLEN: It’s peripheral to what we’ve been talking about but when I was an undergraduate, I was hugely influenced by a professor of mine, a biologist and entomologist named George Ichor(ph), one of the greatest entomologists I ever met. And I remember driving across the country with him when I was a college undergraduate. He was an advisor to me. I was doing research out at a place called The Rocky Mountain Lab in Colorado. And we had to keep going way out our way – this was in the late ’80s, this is before there was a Starbucks on every corner and you can get really good coffee.

And he was fiercely addicted to caffeine – to coffee. And we’d have to drive way off the interstate to go find good coffee in that day. I mean, we’d go 45 minutes off our route to go find a place that had whole bean fresh ground coffee. And I remember giving him a really hard time because we were wasting a lot of travel time trying to feed his addiction because he need a coffee every couple of hours. And he finally explained to me he had to drink only sort of whole bean fresh ground coffee. And it was because of cockroaches. There’s a point to this story which is that he found out the hard way from teaching entomology year after year after year, handling cockroaches – people used cockroaches as the lab rat for entomology labs – he got really badly allergic to them. So, he couldn’t even touch cockroaches without getting an allergic reaction. And because of that he couldn’t drink pre-ground coffee. And it turned out when he looked into it that pre-ground, you know, your big bulk coffee that you buy in a tin, is all processed from these huge stock piles of coffee. These piles of coffee, they get infested with cockroaches and there’s really nothing they can do to filter that out. So, it all gets ground up in the coffee…


Dr. EMLEN: …and he was actually allergic to pre-ground coffee because of that sort of spin off from having handled them teaching entomology for all those years.

GROSS: Oh I don’t know what to say, thank you for that marvelous insight.

Dr. EMLEN: You may not want to put that on the air.


EWWW. So how can you get coffee WITHOUT ground up insects?

Don’t want to drink a fresh, hot cup of cockroaches in the morning?

Neither do I.

Thankfully, my husband is a coffee snob. I say that with nothing but affection; after all, I unabashedly enjoy his beverage making prowess. He buys freshly roasted coffee beans once every few days, then grinds them fresh at home before making each cup of joe.

When you buy whole beans, you are buying the best of the best — beans with no insect infestation, no insect damage or filth, and no mold. These beans get selected then roasted separately. Because you buy them whole, you can see how pristine they are.

We use this Cuisinart to grind our beans fresh each morning. It’s served us faithfully for about five years now.

I also recently discovered this hand-cranked Kyocera Ceramic Coffee Grinder. I figure if our Cuisinart ever gives out, we’ll buy this Kyocera to replace it. I like that it doesn’t use electricity and that the bowl is made of glass instead of plastic.

Regardless of the grinder you use, here’s the main thing to keep in mind about avoiding a steamy cup of roaches:

The trick is to buy whole beans and grind them yourself.

It’s that simple.

That’s a relief! But what about buying from places like Starbucks that grind their beans fresh for you?

While that may solve the cockroach problem, it doesn’t solve the bug problem.

That’s because when you buy processed foods — including coffee — you still need to be wary of food coloring made from ground up cochineal insects. In fact, Starbucks has even come under fire for using cochineal dyes.

Cochineal dyes are in a LOT of processed foods. You will find them on ingredients labels under the names “cochineal extract” (which is literally ground up bugs), and “carmine” (which is processed a bit more to create a more pure color).

ground cockroaches bugs in coffee cochineal extract

Where you’ll see cochineal dyes:

  • frozen fish and meat
  • any red pre-made drinks like soft drinks, energy drinks, and even alcohol
  • yogurt and ice cream
  • ketchup
  • canned fruits like berries, cherries, and jams

Basically, cochineal extract (and it’s sister carmine) is the “natural” alternative to Red #40.

So how do I avoid cochineal extract?

Again, it’s rather simple. Start reading labels and ditching anything with “cochineal extract” or “carmine” listed.

My preferred solution?

Avoid processed foods. Just buy whole foods and enjoy processing them at home yourself!

(top photo by: @Doug88888)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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97 Responses to Your Coffee Has Ground Up Bugs In It
  1. The Provision Room
    June 10, 2013 | 11:40 am

    Well, that’s a lovely thought this Monday morning! :-P

    THANKFULLY, I ground the beans I’m drinking. So, whew!

  2. Tanya
    June 10, 2013 | 12:26 pm

    We use the same coffee grinder.

    Thanks for the info. But yikes! that is really gross.

    • KristenM
      June 10, 2013 | 12:38 pm

      It’s been a faithful grinder. We use it daily.

  3. Kim
    June 10, 2013 | 12:33 pm

    This is a powerful article. I’m really glad I read it, but I kind of want to throw up now! :o

    • KristenM
      June 10, 2013 | 12:38 pm

      Processed foods are often full of yuck.

  4. LarryB
    June 10, 2013 | 3:01 pm

    Hmmm. Pretty much everything is going to have some level of bug bits in it. I just picked a dessicated fly (small) out of some Korean sea salt this morning. And if I had missed it and it went somewhere I wouldn’t be able to see it, I wouldn’t be worried at all.

    That said, it’s worth getting the cleanest food you can find.

  5. TJ
    June 10, 2013 | 4:50 pm

    Ah, just a little protein! ;-)

  6. Julie Drigot
    June 10, 2013 | 7:25 pm

    Another piece of the puzzle falls into place. I have never liked canned coffee and now I know why.

  7. Annie
    June 10, 2013 | 8:47 pm

    Okay, so the thought of ground up cockroaches is kind of gross. Yup, me too. But are we allowed to ask if cockroaches, roasted and ground up are actually toxic? Do they have any nutritional value? We don’t usually drink coffee for it’s nutritional value though some of us are aware of a bit of good in it–not much though. Okay, there’s good coffee and cheap tasteless coffee. You know, the kind people buy in cans, already ground up from the grocery store. No thanks! I suppose the cockroaches come with that sort of cheap coffee. Maybe the cockroaches are adding to the flavor LOLOL! Maybe they even add to the nutrition.

    • Jennifer
      June 11, 2013 | 12:27 pm

      My thoughts exactly. Most people have the exact same reaction (eeeewww!!!) to the idea of drinking raw milk, or even worse, cream cheese made from clabbered raw milk. I know my mother-in-law nearly threw up when my daughter accidentally let it slip that the “incredibly delicious” cream cheese filling on her birthday cake was made from some raw milk I’d left out on the counter for a few days until it separated.

      I would think, as Real Foodies tend to be more adventurous in general, the idea of bugs in coffee would not immediately trigger our “gross!” Reaction, but more of a curiousity in whether there is actually some nutrition and redeeming value. Other cultures frequently consume bugs as standard fare. I guess I’m just wondering why all the fuss?

      • KristenM
        June 11, 2013 | 12:31 pm

        Please read my comment to Ellie below. It’s not so much about “Ewww..” but knowledge so we can make informed decisions.


        • Jennifer
          June 11, 2013 | 6:56 pm

          Kristen, then why:
          “EWWW. So how can you get coffee WITHOUT ground up insects?
          Don’t want to drink a fresh, hot cup of cockroaches in the morning?
          Neither do I.”

          Seems contradictory to your claim to “just want to inform.”

          • KristenM
            June 11, 2013 | 8:01 pm

            How so? I don’t see the contradiction. Did you read my reply to Ellie below?

  8. CathyG
    June 10, 2013 | 9:14 pm

    Several years ago at a homeschool convention, we were told that there are a certain amount of bugs ‘allowed’ in cereals because they’re in the grains when being processed.

    • IowaHomeschooler
      June 11, 2013 | 8:22 am

      a LONG time ago I read about how dirty ground black pepper is…bugs, rodent droppings, and other variously colored items…yummmm, yummm. We grind our own, and have for a long time.

  9. Mr. Augie
    June 10, 2013 | 9:15 pm

    I don’t mind the ground cockroaches so much but the cockroach droppings should be of more concern.

  10. L
    June 10, 2013 | 9:25 pm

    I can’t seem to share this article about the coffee on my facebook page.

  11. Aisha Smith
    June 11, 2013 | 6:35 am

    Ok! That is my husband’s wish come true. I am done with coffee! (At least until I can afford whole beans and a beans grinder.) Unless you know of an organic, bug-free coffee bean I can have ground for me.

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 10:41 am

      Many places that sell beans will grind them fresh for you in the store. So, a local coffee roaster would be a good bet.

      Also, I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country, but here in Texas many of our grocery stores sell whole beans and have grinders available in the aisle. So even if you don’t have a grinder, you can still buy freshly ground beans.

      • Aisha Smith
        June 11, 2013 | 11:12 am

        And those are safe? Like from cochineal and carmine extracts? Coffee is my second favourite beverage (pure water being my first) but that is a little too disgusting for me.

        • KristenM
          June 11, 2013 | 12:43 pm

          Yes, whole bean coffee is safe. You just need to make sure it’s ground fresh (i.e. in front of you). It’s the pre-ground stuff you want to avoid.

  12. BananaBread
    June 11, 2013 | 8:27 am

    This doesn’t make sense. First, the article says, “Apparently, it’s a not-so-secret industry secret. According to the FDA’s own studies, at least 10% (and often MORE) of green coffee beans are insect-infested. According to Dr. Emlen, they can’t be processed out, so they simply get roasted with the beans and ground up into them.” If the green beans are infested before they get roasted, what difference does it make whether you get whole beans or go to a coffee shop that serves pre-ground beans in its coffee? The roaches would have been roasted into your whole beans anyway (unless you’re somehow lucky enough to have only pure 90% roach-free beans in your batch), so I’m not following this logic that you can somehow control whether you’re going to have roasted bugs in your coffee beans. Not to mention that I have yet to see any sort of “roach-free” certification on a any brands of coffee…

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 10:44 am

      Think of it like apples. When they’re picked, the beautiful, flawless apples go in one pile and the damaged apples go in another. The pretty ones get stored & sold as fresh apples. The ugly ones get processed into cider & apple sauce.

      In the same way, the beans that get ground into pre-ground coffee are the damaged or flawed beans that are left in large insect-infested piles. The beans that eventually get sold as whole, roasted beans have an entirely different process happen to them.

    • Kathy
      June 11, 2013 | 6:14 pm

      I got the impression that he meant the piles of beans were infested with roaches crawling through them, not that they were inside the beans themselves.

  13. Lisa Davis
    June 11, 2013 | 8:28 am

    What about organic coffee that comes pre-ground? I grind my own beans, but my husband drinks an organic blend that is not available in whole bean. I guess bugs are kind of organic, but you know what I mean. Are there some offenders worse than others?

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 10:47 am

      I don’t know. My husband and I prefer freshly ground coffee because of its superior flavor, so we’ve never had to ask these questions!

      • Mindy
        November 25, 2013 | 11:22 pm

        So any whole bean coffee in the store is okay? Where does your husband get these coffee beans? As I read some of these comments about “whats the big deal”, roaches are filthy disease carrying bugs, others may not be. I for one don’t want to drink roaches!

  14. Jennifer
    June 11, 2013 | 9:01 am

    Cochineal or Carmine is NOT ground up insects. It’s a bit more of a process than that. Please don’t spread misinformation. Carmine is not used in meats or fish. That’s is illegal in the US. It is also not used to color ketchup. That would be lycopene.
    Carmine has been used for thousands of years as a NATURAL. colorant. What ppl should be avoiding is Red #40. Don’t create / join in the HYPE!

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:10 am

      Actually, cochineal dye really is just ground up bugs and water.

      You can watch this video to see how it’s made –>

      Carmine, as I wrote above, has more of a process done to it to make the dye more pure.

      And yes, this is a natural dye! I thought I was very clear about that, calling it a natural alternative to Red #40.

      It’s not about hype, but knowledge. I don’t mind if my t-shirt is dyed red with cochineal dye, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat the ground up bugs!

  15. Ellie
    June 11, 2013 | 9:14 am

    What’s the big deal? Lots of cultures prize eating insects for their protein and if we weren’t so squeamish, I think we would see that insects are a great place to find protein that doesn’t do wide scale damage to our soil (unlike standard cattle raising). Obviously, we prefer traditionally raised, grass-fed meats, and, obviously, cockroaches are particularly gross, but really, what is the problem here?

    • Annie
      June 11, 2013 | 11:18 am

      I agree Ellie; what’s the problem?? Do people even know what is in their jarred peanut butter? or many other things? Gosh, have we, as a culture, been this far removed from our food? Do we really think that because a label is snazzy that the food inside is…uh…some kind of “perfect”? We’ve become supermarket addicts and expect the government to watch over us. How’s that working?? If I can’t see the roasted and ground up bugs then I’m not going to care. I buy high quality, locally roasted beans and grind them myself mainly for the flavor, not because I’m afraid of the bugs.

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:30 am

      Please notice I didn’t write, “HOLY CRAP! Don’t eat the bugs! They’re so dangerous and unhealthy and nasty.”

      When I lived in Mexico, I routinely ate fried grasshoppers AND ants! It was delectable.

      It’s one thing to willfully eat insects; it’s another to think you’re getting one thing and get another.

      For me, it’s about knowledge and empowerment. For example, I used to often have allergic reactions to coffee (a brief bout of congestion and itchy eyes after each cup). So, I stopped drinking it.

      Years later, my husband started buying freshly roasted whole beans and grinding his own. I loved the way it tasted, and guess what? No allergic reaction!

      Now that I have this bit of info about “acceptable” ground up insect levels, I can put two and two together and make an informed decision. I can say, “I’ll drink freshly ground coffee, but not cheap pre-ground coffee.” And I can say that with the knowledge that one will leave me feeling fine while the other will make me feel like crap.

      How many others are out there with missing puzzle pieces? How many don’t know enough to even realize that their thirty minutes of itchy eyes or congestion is because of their coffee — or more specifically, the roach content of their coffee?

      I wrote this article because I believe it’s important for us to have knowledge about these things so we can make informed decisions.

      If you read this and want to keep drinking roach coffee, more power to you! There is no judgement here.

      But if the thought grosses you out, or if this information can be the missing piece that makes the big picture become clear, then I want you to be informed.

      Make sense?

      • Melissa
        June 12, 2013 | 10:10 pm

        While this information is certainly interesting, you didn’t seem to say that the taste was actually better from freshly ground (freshly brewed obviously is, of course..), or that there was anything to fear but the fear this article might put in those squeamish at the thought of bugs in anything ingested. Unless of course, you’re someone who has developed an allergy to roaches. How common is that? It sounded like that professor only developed this unusual problem after handling the critters on a daily basis.

        So I’m also left wondering, what’s the big deal? Bug allergies? Eww factor? That did seem to be the biggest point you were making. It wasn’t very clear is all.

      • Dawn
        June 14, 2013 | 9:31 am

        Exactly! If we had honest labeling laws here we would be able to help ourselves. I mean, if you’ve been tested for everything under the sun and no dr. Can tell you what’s wrong, and you still feel like crap, then you’re on your own. And I would be willing to bet that a majority of the time it is something people are injesting. And because of nutrition science, our government allows dishonesty in labeling. If something doesn’t change the nutrition or offers equal nutrition, they don’t have to put it as an ingredient. It’s frustrating and despicable.

  16. Liz Marin
    June 11, 2013 | 9:16 am

    Much ado about nothing! People all over the world eat insects for protein. Americans are entirely too squeamish about these kinds of things. The only way cockroaches in ground coffee – or any other processed foods, for that matter – are going to be a problem is if you are allergic to them. Many millions of us drink tons of coffee every day without any problem, so what exactly is the big deal?

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:32 am

      Please see my reply to Ellie above.

  17. Janine Washle
    June 11, 2013 | 9:34 am

    Wonder if the ground coffee from Starbucks or Whole Foods has ground up cockroaches/bugs in it? Is this a problem of run-of-the-mill ground coffee manufacturers or is it across the board?

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:32 am

      If the beans arrive at Whole Foods or Starbucks whole, and then they grind them fresh, then this is not a problem.

      If they arrive pre-ground, then it is.

  18. Lillian Hughes
    June 11, 2013 | 10:04 am

    Thankfully I usually drink tea!

  19. Leah G
    June 11, 2013 | 10:10 am

    so coffee is the ONLY non whole foody thing we do and we often laugh it must have something in it. I am torn. should I go down another cup or run. how gross!

  20. ILEANA
    June 11, 2013 | 10:29 am

    I could smell the roach’s bad odor in the coffee and thought it was where they kept it that roaches would get to it. Sometimes I had to throw it away because it was very smelly. But this is just to much! Unbelievable, I would have never thought they deliberately add them to the coffee and grind them together, and thats what we are drinking. My suspicions were correct, from now on no more grounded coffee for me. yyaawkk!!!

  21. marlo c
    June 11, 2013 | 10:31 am

    part of being a food renegade is not just having great information like this but thinking critically about it. to be blunt, so what if there’s ground-up bug in your coffee or OJ? plenty of cultures deliberately eat insects for their protein so we know (certain) creepy-crawlies aren’t inherently toxic. are you objecting to the lack of transparency about insects in coffee? are you suggesting insects should not be consumed?


    • Annie
      June 11, 2013 | 11:20 am

      I’m with you, Marlo

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:35 am

      Please see my reply to Ellie above.

      I have eaten and enjoyed insects before. Have you?

      Anyhow, that’s not what this article is about. It’s not about edible bugs, or people opting to eat insects.

      It’s about the fact that people buy pre-ground coffee thinking they’re getting coffee, but are in fact getting coffee AND roaches. Knowledge is power! Many folks have minor allergic reactions to coffee, and they’ll want to know (like I did) that a possible reason is the roaches in their brew.

      • Marlo
        June 15, 2013 | 2:30 pm

        I agree with the need for transparency, but that’s not entirely how the article was framed. The “ick factor” was hyped over issues of safety and choice. I like Food Renegade because of their critical thinking about food.

  22. Susan
    June 11, 2013 | 10:41 am

    How do they filter out the cockroaches before or after roasting the whole beans? If they can’t filter them out before grinding, how is this done before packaging??

    • Susan
      June 11, 2013 | 10:44 am

      Never mind….saw I missed that the whole beans aren’t bug infested although who can confirm/guarantee that?

  23. Sasha
    June 11, 2013 | 10:48 am

    Is this such a bad thing? Tons of things have bugs in them. Bugs are a sustainable food source and many countries around the world eat bugs everyday – and in the next 30 years it will be cost effective and sustainable for north america to get on this band wagon. Would we rather artificial dyes in coffee? Personally I’d rather the chochineal insects.

    • Annie
      June 11, 2013 | 11:22 am

      me too

  24. liz collins
    June 11, 2013 | 10:54 am

    i recently went to the santa barbara mission and learned about cochineal color dyes there, by seeing the insects themselves. then heard a story about starbucks using the cochineal dyes in their drinks. and people freaking out. and now they use toxic chemical food coloring. not a very good transition. i’d rather eat/drink bugs. that being said, i don’t do processed foods and i don’t drink at starbucks, easy way to deal with it, like you said. and i don’t mind eating bugs. don’t panic, as long as they’re organic.

    • Annie
      June 11, 2013 | 11:21 am


  25. Melissa Napier
    June 11, 2013 | 11:17 am

    I’m surprised, Food Renegade! No mention of edible bugs? That’s a whole new food source with excellent protein, easy to propagate organically and easy on the environment. Look into it more!

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:33 am

      Oh, I’ve eaten edible bugs. I used to live in Mexico and regularly enjoyed fried grasshoppers and ants.

      I don’t understand your point. This isn’t an article about edible bugs, but people thinking they’re getting one thing (coffee) and getting another (coffee + roaches).

      Please see my response to Ellie above.

  26. Bekah
    June 11, 2013 | 11:46 am

    What’s wrong with eating cochineal extract? Is there evidence of it being harmful? Humans eat bugs all over the world. I can understand not wanting to eat cockroaches, but if we’ll eat crickets, why not cochineal bugs?

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:49 am

      I don’t think anything’s wrong with it, so long as you know what you’re eating and WANT to.

  27. Connie Kuramoto
    June 11, 2013 | 12:13 pm

    Yup, when are we going to learn that most everything from big companies is poor quality or worst? I buy whole coffee beans from a local roaster. Good for the local economy, good for me.

  28. Andrew
    June 11, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    Could you explain where you get “at least 10%” from? Following your links, I’m reading that the FDA action level is 10% or more samples infested or damaged, meaning if they find that the food is rejected. If you assume the inspections are doing their job (I know that’s a big if) then doesn’t this mean at most 10%, not at least 10%, is infested? (And I would assume it varies by producer / importer as well)

  29. Sarah
    June 11, 2013 | 12:41 pm

    I’m wondering if they put poison outside to keep the roach population down? Then the roaches eat the poison and go live in the stored coffee beans where they die. They are then roasted and ground in our coffee. We would be consuming whatever the roaches ate.

  30. Mo
    June 11, 2013 | 1:03 pm

    Kosher certified coffee and other products will not have any ground up insects as this contravenes the kosher dietary laws.

  31. bmommyx2
    June 11, 2013 | 1:04 pm

    Starbucks stopped using that coloring a little while back, you might want to verify your facts.

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 1:52 pm

      Yes, thank you, I did. Notice that in the post, it’s in the past tense. I say, “Starbucks has even come under fire for using…” and link to an article from 2012 in Business Insider that talks about the Starbucks issue and announces Starbucks’ plans to switch to an alternative natural red dye (which turned out to be lycopene).

  32. Leah
    June 11, 2013 | 4:03 pm

    Bugs are full of protein and good for you! I have worked at an organic agrotourism farm and we had rocks mixed in with the grain. I think ‘food impurity’ is truly unavoidable in any food production. Bugs are a an important part of life on the planet.

  33. clara27
    June 11, 2013 | 5:06 pm

    Very powerful indeed. Reminds me of the time I was interviewing a research professor who ended up telling me about the process of sea salt ( in mexico) and how some companies, in order to save money, refused to add iodine to the salt, despite the fact that the package said it contained iodine. Plus the fact that during the harvesting, the men stepped all over the salt and sometimes, so did their dogs.

  34. Ginny
    June 11, 2013 | 5:12 pm

    Thanks for the info. At least we’re not eating them. The hot water just pours over it. It is gross, though. Sorry to say, that my husband and I buy Folgers in the red container, but most likely after this, we will just buy the whole beans from the market down the street. Of all the bugs in the world, I have to say that cockroaches are the yuckiest ever!

  35. Kate
    June 11, 2013 | 8:26 pm

    And I thought it was really about selling coffee grinders…..

  36. Mrs. D
    June 12, 2013 | 10:05 am

    Well crap. I’m so mad and sad about this latest information I could spit and cuss up a storm!! But I am grateful to know about it and share with others. And now, to be proactive. Time to buy my own beans, grind them and put them in the K-Cup….so sad.

  37. Heather
    June 12, 2013 | 9:15 pm

    There are small companies that actually care about quality… we home-roast organic green coffee beans in single order batches over an open-flame, AND we then provide robust Gluten-free flavors. There is nothing but sheer goodness in the coffee. We are small, but we’re committed.

  38. casey blanche
    June 13, 2013 | 3:06 pm

    I am a specialty coffee Roastmaster that has roasted over 11 million pounds of coffee over the last decade. I can tell you that I have only found insects, coffee berry borer, in one pallet of coffee during this time. I should mention however that this coffee was not specialty grade and was refused.

    Specialty coffee is processed, milled, bagged, rested, exported on container, screened in customs for infestation/contraband/fungus, then shipped to a warehouse for storage or directly to the roaster. At the warehouse coffee must be stored in compliance with food grade standards. I should add that many specialty coffees are now protected by food grade grain-pro bag liners. If there is any truth to this article, I postulate that bugs would only be found in triage- the lowest grade coffee. This coffee is be purchased by large industrial roasting operations for canned and office coffee.

  39. Heather
    June 14, 2013 | 11:49 pm

    We drink coffee every day and used to use a self contained drip coffee maker. A couple of years ago my husband brought me a particularly delicious cup of coffee, and I couldn’t help but comment on how good it was! I couldn’t figure it out, because we made it the same every day.

    Well, shortly afterward I was cleaning out the coffee maker and to my horror discovered the remaining pieces of an unfortunate cockroach that had gotten into the water reservoir.

    So, it seems, the secret to a delicious cup of coffee is *fresh* cockroaches. :-/

    • John
      June 18, 2013 | 10:26 am

      I have eaten honey roasted cockroaches in other parts of the world and they are delicious. I believe the so called civilized world is missing out on a great food source by not eating ready available protein and being grossed out by bugs.

  40. Siro Battaglin
    June 16, 2013 | 8:58 pm

    I don’t know about US policy, but in Australia it’s actually LEGAL for a product to contain up to 3% impurities- this includes bugs! It would seem food suppliers in some industries can never ensure absolute purity of a product, or they deal with such large quantities that it’s not practical, or perhaps too expensive. This however explains why one might mysteriously find bugs in your cupboards at home. Kind of creepy…

  41. Jane Grant (@Temecula_homes)
    June 18, 2013 | 1:32 am

    “Shock Effect”, title. The FDA allows for some percentage of bugs in all processed foods. I highly doubt that ground up bugs are in every processed bag of ground coffee. I’ve been grinding my beans for several years and I can personally testify that I have never seen a bug in the thousands of bags of coffee beans I have purchased. If the bug theory you attest to were as probable as you claim I think I would have seen a bug or two in some of the bags of beans!

  42. John
    June 18, 2013 | 10:24 am

    So? they are roasted and a great source of protein…come one, get real people MOST of your food has bugs, bug eggs, larvae or other members of the animal kingdom in it… In fact, most organic foods are teaming with bugs…its part of what they are…..

  43. Chantel
    June 18, 2013 | 3:02 pm

    Well, I think I may need to re-examine my psychological state. The thought of ground-up bugs in my coffee (or any other food) does not in any way gross me out. And I’m slightly disturbed that it doesn’t gross me out. Hmm. Maybe it’s because we buy whole beans and grind them already?

  44. Kika
    June 21, 2013 | 11:55 am

    Thanks for the information. I’m sure we end up eating bugs with our produce, etc., so it isn’t the end of the world but I would prefer to be informed and choose the cleanest options. I respect that others eat bugs by choice but I don’t particularly want to.

  45. gail
    June 21, 2013 | 11:56 am

    I never knew about the roaches!

  46. Brenda
    June 22, 2013 | 12:54 pm

    You may want to check out this link -and several others available- on the issue of MOLD GROWING ON WHOLE BEANS.

  47. Barbara
    November 26, 2013 | 7:52 pm

    I agree that fresh ground coffee beans are great, but do you know how they are picked, processed/roasted, high heat ruins the healthy component and taste of the bean, to early picking or to late picking is not good. Where are your coffee beans from? What kind of soil are they grown in? I have seen the beginning to the end of the growing, picking by hand, does your coffee only go through the grower and pickers? Not sell the agrents processors etc. We found a coffee that has no middle man on,y work with the growers and pickers, grown in ‘sweet’ volcanic panama soil. Has been rated the number one coffee bean by the World a Tasters Cup for the past 12 years, and this company purchased all of these beans, the Panama Boquete Gesha Coffee Bean, and the do the processing for the beginning to the end. It is the only coffee we will drink, all others taste and are enferior to the healthy benefits of this coffee. It is processed and packaged in the USA. It is Sisel KAFFE. Check it out at my website. And no bugs, goes through rigorous testing before any are released!

  48. Emil Eidt via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:17 pm

    That’s not so much a problem.
    The far greater problem is that it has exploitative labor in it.

  49. Laura Joanna Myers via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:21 pm

    People have been using insects (particularly carmine) to color things for millennia. If the traditional diet people are so into “eat what your ancestors ate” and “eat like traditional societies” then eating bugs, which are a staple food in many cultures’ diets, shouldn’t upset you at all.

  50. Jonathan Waits via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:33 pm

    Why anyone who knows anything about food, particularly coffee, would drink pre ground in the first place is the bigger question.

  51. Amanda Caton via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:41 pm

    Wow this opened my eyes, thank you so much :) just another small change I can make to a healthy happier life :)

  52. Susie Wiebe Redecop via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:42 pm

    I buy coffee beans-my coffee maker grinds them for me:)

  53. Melissa Pomeroy via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 7:53 pm

    Bugs are fine

  54. Jessica Ellington via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 8:05 pm

    Bugs in your food are the least of your problems. Think about all the chemicals and pesticides.

  55. Katherine Murphy Song via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 8:08 pm

    Patricia Ann Murphy, here’s the coffee article I told you about during your last visit. Sorry!! ☕️

  56. Patricia Ann Murphy via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 8:15 pm

    Katherine – thanks! I saw the article a few weeks ago; and although I really don’t want to be eating bugs of any kind, I am more concerned with the mold issue. So, I will be looking for the hand crank (non-electric) grinder they mention in the article to have on hand if my cuisinart electric grinder dies. Thanks for sharing.

  57. Sara Prow Blackard via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 8:51 pm

    So glad I grind my own!!

  58. Dawn Walker via Facebook
    May 31, 2014 | 9:31 pm

    Bugs aren’t bad for you, they’re actually a great source of protein and other things, and quite popular around the world. If you want to turn someone off pre- ground coffee, maybe just stick to the facts that it’s not going to taste nearly as good, and that it won’t stay fresh as long, you control the size of the grind completely, Less chance of contamination of other coffees, etc. “Scare tactics” (or gross out tactics if you must) are what people use when they’re desperate to change people over to something without any real reasons. You’re better than that.

  59. Barb Gimbel via Facebook
    June 1, 2014 | 12:57 am

    Pretty sure my filter keeps the bits out of my cup. But yeah… a little extra protein never hurt anyone. I have more concerns about my dog or cat having a drink from my cup when I’m not looking. Oh and this one time a monster sized centipede snuck in my cup and I happened to take a mouthful before looking… I’ve never spat coffee out so fast in my life. Also, I’m pretty sure kids eat more bugs then we get in our coffee… and they don’t die from it. It’s not nice to think about it… but surely there are worse things in life then a bug in your drink.

  60. Gene Vacca via Facebook
    June 1, 2014 | 4:42 am

    Is that how they get the hazelnut flavoring?

  61. Richard McKenna via Facebook
    June 1, 2014 | 4:52 am

    It’s filtered who cares

  62. Pamela Noeau Day via Facebook
    June 1, 2014 | 9:17 pm

    Get your coffee from Blue Star Coffee Roasters.

  63. Redland Rambles via Facebook
    June 1, 2014 | 10:05 pm

    Extra protein!

  64. Jill Tieman via Facebook
    June 3, 2014 | 7:16 pm

    I’m not opposed to bugs! A good source of protein and totally sustainable!

  65. Corvallis Coffeeworks via Facebook
    June 4, 2014 | 1:06 am

    A bug-free bag of coffee is highly unlikely to be found, especially if it is organic, sustainable and from the equatorial tropics. Whole-bean coffees are quite often allowed a certain amount of defect from insects, either damage or larval stages in the bean itself. We are currently studying how these insects affect flavor, bean chemistry and roasting characteristics.

  66. Jim
    August 31, 2014 | 4:33 pm

    I was enjoying a nice cup of coffee while reading this. I had to pause for a bit a think this through. Are these the kind of cockroaches that commonly infest homes? The ones that carry diseases with them? Or are they the outdoor roaches? The outdoor ones I can tolerate, but if we’re talking about German roaches and such then I’ll have to switch over the beans right away.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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