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Is There Gluten Hiding In Your Favorite Coffee Drink?

We all love our coffee, am I right?! Whether you are a Dunkin' or Starbucks fan, grabbing coffee on the go is just part of the daily routine for most of us. I mean, "America Runs on Dunkin"! The good news is that coffee in it's natural state is inherently gluten free. So what's the problem? While doing research to respond to a reader's question about the safety of Starbuck's blended coffee drinks (I LOVE reader questions so keep 'em coming!), I came across some information about gluten content that I was not aware of. I want to pass this info along to all of you so that you can make educated choices when going for your caffeine fix.

Here's the skinny: If you stick to the simple stuff (e.g., coffee, late, cappuccino) you are good. When it comes to the "fancier" drinks, I'm talking about the blended varieties and flavored syrups, the waters get a little murky. As always, even when ordering something Gluten Free, there is the possibility of cross contamination - Dunkin' and Starbucks both caution that while they may use gluten free ingredients, their restaurants and processing facilities are not dedicated Gluten Free. A good practice is to let the server / barista know that you are gluten sensitive or celiac (and ask them to use clean tools, like the frother / steamer). Remember, ingredients are constantly changing so always check for gluten content. Be safe out there!


Please don't shoot the messenger...sadly, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavoring is not considered GF, and for that matter, neither are many of the seasonal drinks (eeek sorry Pumpkin lovers!).

"Many people have reported getting glutened by various flavored coffee treats from Starbucks. This includes the very popular seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is not considered gluten-free. In fact, none of Starbucks' popular seasonal drinks are considered safe on the gluten-free diet."

The Caramel and Maple flavored syrups also contain Gluten. Frappuccinos are technically GF (with the exception of the Caramel flavor), but the Java Chips , Sprinkles, Cookie Bits and other add-ins DO contain gluten. It is important to note that equipment they use to blend your drink is shared, and only rinsed between customers. Cross contamination is a high risk with these blended drinks, so if you must have your Frappuccino, talk to your Barista about using sanitized equipment. Another option is to choose from the bottled versions that are labeled Gluten Free. I located this Starbucks gluten disclosure online, but it is from 2015: Starbucks Coffee Allergy Info. Currently, Starbucks makes this disclosure on their nutrition page "*Allergen information is currently unavailable online for our beverage selections. Please see our Menu FAQs for more information." See their details of this Allergen FAQ response, and use your best judgement based on your level of gluten sensitivity.

The good news: You can still enjoy these coffee options, AND if you need a sweet treat, the Marshmallow Dream Bar is Gluten Free (yum!)

Gluten-Free Options at Starbucks

Plain coffee, espresso, or tea

Unflavored latte or cappuccino

Most bottled drinks

Gluten-free marshmallow dream bar

Packaged snacks labeled gluten-free


Dunkin' does not disclose wheat in any of their coffee drinks (which they would have to because it is one of the 8 common allergens that are required by law to be disclosed). But remember, there are other gluten containing grains to consider (barley & rye) that can be used in flavoring, but are not required to be disclosed as an allergen. When asked by whether "any or all of their beverages contained barley or rye", Dunkin' responded with the following:

"I have confirmed that the ingredients you listed are not present in Dunkin' Donuts beverages. However, because not all restaurants and production facilities are dedicated gluten-free, the brand cannot guarantee that there is no cross-contamination. For that reason, the brand stands by the...original statement: 'While many of our beverages do not contain gluten as an ingredient, not all restaurants and production facilities are dedicated gluten-free facilities." -Dunkin'

Good news: It seems that their flavorings (including the beloved Pumpkin Spice!), are GF. Consistent with their competitor Starbucks, Dunkin' also cannot guarantee no cross contamination. So again, use your judgement when ordering based on your level of gluten sensitivity and talk to your server. You can view all ingredients and allergens (wheat), as well as nutritional info by selecting your favorite beverage and customization (i.e., flavor, type of milk) here. If you are craving a sweet treat, check out the new Gluten Free Brownie!

I love hearing from you! Be sure to login and leave me a comment if you found this info helpful, and let me know if you have any questions.


Sources & Further Reading:

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