Starbucks Coffee - Is It Gluten Free or Not?
After I posted a boomerang of myself drinking a Starbucks coffee on my instagram, I received this direct message on instagram that really got me thinking, is Starbucks Coffee safe to drink?
I have been enjoying Starbucks ever since I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and have only encountered problems when I ordered drinks that contain their syrups. So, obviously I have learned to avoid those and continued to enjoy my cup of joe from Starbucks by only ordering very simple drinks.
But after I posted a selfie of my coffee getting me though a tough workday, I received a message asking me "You don't get sick from Starbucks?!" Looking into if Starbucks was gluten free or not lead me down a rabbit hole. So, if you are gluten free and have been wondering this for yourself, read on.
If you google "is Starbuck safe for Celiac" some of the first articles that come up are for what is gluten free at Starbucks.
(Here are the links if you are interested!)
What to Order From the Starbucks Gluten-Free Menu - Spoon University
Which Starbucks Items Are Gluten Free? (Updated September 2018) - Very Well Fit
Here is a chart from Very Well Fit on what is gluten free at Starbucks.
Plain coffee, espresso, or tea
Unflavored latter or cappuccino
Most bottled drinks
Gluten-free marshmallow dream bar
Packaged snacks labeled gluten free
Flavored coffee, latte, cappuccino drinks
Green juices and smoothies that may contain wheat grass
Packaged food items not labeled gluten-free
Then I cam across this reddit thread that claims that not even the coffee beans at Starbucks are safe. Some of the comments that caught my attention are:
"May have wheat in the coffee beans... their corporate office confirmed that the beans may in fact have wheat."
"The wheat is used in packaging to ensure the beans do not stick to each other. Wheat and flour are used in a variety of products for packaging purposes."
"They said that they get coffee from a variety of distributors and that they can't control those companies add wheat or other gluten products as some do."
I also found another blog article by Gluten Dude called What Is Gluten Free at Starbucks that share his communication with Starbucks when he requested to know which drink items were gluten free at Starbucks. Here are some highlights from that article:
"Store locations cannot guarantee a gluten-free environment due to possibility of cross contamination concerning most of hand-crafter beverages."
- Response from Starbuck's Corporate
"Customer with celiac disease will know what is safe and what is not safe to order. And I am not referring to your food as much as I am your drinks."
- Response from Gluten Dude
Please know that the only Certified Gluten Free product we offer at all stores is the Gluten Free Marshmallow Dream Bar."
- Response from Starbuck's Corporate
Another source, from the Celiac Dietitian, says the rumors of Starbucks coffee beans being cross contaminated are untrue and that test performed by Celiac Watchdog show that the coffee beans range from 5 ppm (which is under the 20 ppm FDA limit to be considered gluten free).
Here is the link to the full article from Celiac Dietitian about Coffee and Celiac Disease.
So at the end of the day, I'm still confused... as a celiac, or someone who has a severe gluten allergy, would you trust Starbucks as being gluten free and safe to drink?
66% of you answered "Yes, some coffee is safe".
34% of you answered "Hard pass on Starby's".
The final results to the instagram poll show that about 2/3 of you responded that you trust Starbucks to be gluten free and to not get you sick. While the other 1/3 of you have either gotten sick from Starbucks, or do not trust it.
I love the gluten free community so much. I received this direct message on instagram from Celiac Simplified on her past experience working for a company who looked at Starbucks food products.
"I used to have a job where I looked at Starbucks food products and their ingredients labels and most drinks are totally fine, including plain old coffee. Dusting it with wheat and not declaring it would also violate FDA claims on food allergy labelling. Coffee, Tea, and Spices don't come with a nutrition facts label -- calories, etc because they don't provide any nutrients -- allergens must still be declared. That being said Starbucks is super conservative and wants to cover their *butts* (let's keep it clean :) here) and make zero claims."
- Celiac Simplified
Another response on the IG from one of my followers who has celiac as well and shares her experience with Starbucks.
"I have gotten sick but I notice it's always when I use the syrups. So I just get espresso shots, half and half and raw sugar."
After looking deeper into this topic, there is no definitive answer whether Starbucks is truly Celiac safe. My perspective is that the company is being conservative by not making any claims on which drinks can be made gluten free.
I feel safe enough to enjoy my daily Starbucks cup as long as I stick to brewed coffee with a little cream and sugar and no added syrups/flavors.
Ultimately, you can make your own decision on whether you feel comfortable drinking Starbucks coffee. If in doubt, there is nothing wrong with playing it safe and passing on the chain coffee giant!
Have your own take on this matter? Comment below to share your experience!
XOXO Gluten Free Socialite