Shipping Coffee

Guide to Shipping Coffee

by Nadia Brosious

Shipping Coffee

Shipping coffee via freight is an intricate process that requires careful planning and execution to ensure the beans reach their destination with their aroma, flavor, and quality intact. From packaging to transportation, every step plays a vital role in preserving the essence of the coffee.

At FreightCenter, we believe that our industry expertise, extensive carrier network, comprehensive logistics support, and commitment to the safe transportation of coffee makes us the ideal company to trust for shipping coffee. Our dedication to customer satisfaction and efficient delivery aligns perfectly with the unique requirements of the coffee industry.

Packaging Coffee

Proper packaging is crucial to protect coffee beans during transportation. The beans are typically packaged in durable bags made of materials like jute or sisal. These bags should be appropriately sized, considering both handling and stacking requirements in containers or freight vehicles. A moisture barrier lining or liner can be added to the bags to safeguard the beans from moisture.

Ensuring airtight sealing with proper closures and one-way degassing valves helps maintain the coffee’s freshness by preventing oxygen exposure. Clear labeling with important information, such as origin, roast date, and handling instructions, also enables efficient tracking and handling.


To facilitate handling and storage, coffee bags are usually placed on pallets. Palletization ensures transportation stability, making loading and unloading the coffee easier. Proper stacking and secure strapping of the pallets minimize the risk of damage to the bags and allow for efficient utilization of space within shipping containers or cargo holds. Begin by selecting sturdy and appropriately-sized pallets, and place a protective layer on the pallet, such as a slip sheet or cardboard, to prevent direct contact between the pallet and coffee bags. 

 Ensure the pallet is clean and free of any debris. Carefully arrange the coffee bags on the pallet, starting with a stable base layer. Position the bags tightly together, using consistent spacing and aligning them parallel to the pallet edges. As you stack the coffee bags, maintain stability by keeping the weight distribution balanced.

Avoid overhangs that could lead to instability or damage during transportation. Once the bags are stacked, secure them using a stretch wrap or strapping. Wrap the pallet with multiple layers of stretch wrap, ensuring it is tight and covers the bags securely.


Shipping coffee via freight often involves containerization. Full container loads or less than container loads can be used depending on the quantity of coffee being transported. Shipping containers provide a controlled environment, protecting the coffee from external elements such as humidity, temperature fluctuations, and odors. When loading pallets of coffee into containers for freight shipping, it is crucial to maximize space while maintaining stability. Start arranging the pallets in a single layer along the length or width of the container, depending on its dimensions and the pallet size.

For larger containers, consider stacking multiple layers of pallets, ensuring each layer is stable before adding the next. As you load the pallets, ensure they are aligned parallel to the container walls and evenly distributed to maintain balance. This helps prevent shifting or tipping during transportation. If there are gaps between the pallets or walls, use dunnage or load bars to secure the pallets in place and minimize movement. Once the pallets are loaded, secure them in position using straps, ropes, or load bars. Document and label the container, include pallet count and any special handling instructions.

Temperature Control

Maintaining an optimal temperature is essential to preserve the flavor and quality of coffee. Depending on the origin and destination, temperature-controlled containers or refrigerated transport may be employed. Specialized refrigerated containers or temperature-controlled vehicles are utilized to maintain the ideal temperature range for coffee.

The recommended temperature for coffee storage and transportation typically falls between 55°F to 70°F. These temperature-controlled systems help protect the beans from extreme heat, cold, or humidity, which can lead to flavor degradation or spoilage. Monitoring devices are often employed to track and maintain the desired temperature during transit. By utilizing temperature-controlled freight, coffee exporters can ensure that the beans arrive at their destination in optimal condition, allowing coffee lovers to savor the full aromatic experience of their cup of coffee.

Transportation Methods to Ship Coffee 

When selecting a freight transportation method to ship coffee, factors to consider include cost, transit time, destination, volume, and any specific requirements for maintaining the coffee’s quality during transit. The three most common methods are air, sea, and ocean freight.

Air freight is a preferred option for time-sensitive shipments. With its rapid transit times, it ensures that the coffee reaches its destination quickly, preserving its freshness and flavor. Ground freight is suitable for smaller quantities of coffee and can provide cost-effective solutions for shorter distances. Ocean freight provides substantial capacity and cost-effectiveness for large-volume shipments. Although it generally has longer transit times, the slower journey allows the coffee beans to undergo a natural maturation process, enhancing the flavor profile.

Cost to Ship Coffee

The cost to ship coffee through freight can vary depending on several factors, including the shipping distance, weight, volume, mode of transportation, origin and destination locations, and any additional services required. Market conditions, fuel prices, and other variables can also influence shipping costs. Obtaining specific quotes from shipping providers or freight forwarders for accurate pricing is important.

Shipping Coffee with FreightCenter

FreightCenter offers a range of shipping services to transport coffee safely and efficiently, including ground, air, and ocean transportation. It’s important to prepare coffee for transport, choose the right freight company and transportation method, and ensure you have the necessary documents and follow regulations. The cost of shipping coffee can vary, but comparing quotes from carriers can help find the most cost-effective option.

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