Are Coffee and/or Tea Gluten-free?
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Nov 5 2009

Are Coffee and/or Tea Gluten-free?

Coffee and tea do not contain gluten in their pure forms. It’s fairly hard to find a coffee with gluten in it, but you might find a flavored coffee, or a coffee drink mix that contains it. Gluten in tea is a little more prevalent, as barley is sometimes used in flavored teas. Most of the time, barley will be marked as such on a label but people have reported being told by some companies that barley is in teas that don’t list barley on the label. All the teas I’ve personally seen with barley in them, had barley listed on the label but it does not have to be called out on the label legally. Wheat or rye don’t tend to be added to teas, but wheat might be found in coffee drink mixes. If present, it would be listed on the label as required by law.  
 
Some flavor additives at Starbucks contain gluten and the company keeps a list of what those are, at least at the corporate office. The average barista at any given location might not be able to tell you what additives contain gluten. Therefore, it’s best not to just show up and expect them to guide you regarding what is safe to order. The coffee itself at Starbucks is gluten-free.

Decaf coffee is also gluten-free, as long as it is pure decaf coffee. Again,  exceptions would be flavored decaf or decaf drink mixes. By far, you’ll find more teas with barley in them than anything else. Some companies now keep lists of gluten-free items, either on their website or readily available for customer service reps to share when customers call to inquire about it. The Bigelow website has the gluten-free status listed for each tea in the ingredients!

Some cold bottled teas contain gluten so be sure to check the ingredients on those as well. At one time, the only form of gluten found in them was barley. All SoBe and Snapple teas are gluten-free, according to the companies. The sweetened and unsweetened ice tea from the Publix deli are both gluten-free, according to their gluten-free product list.

The bottom line as always, is that you must read the label of anything before determining whether you should consume it. Coffee that is just coffee is going to say something like “100% Colombian Coffee” or simply “coffee” on the package. Teas can contain many ingredients so it’s best to check with the company or refer to whatever program you use to check for gluten-free items. Clan ThompsonThe Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide and Zeer are all helpful resources.

Have a question about the gluten-free diet which we haven’t covered yet?  You can now submit your questions here! (Note: All medical questions should be directed to your physician)

Article Written by:

Tiffany is considered a gluten-free advocate as well as the most discriminating gluten-free diner around. Her goal is to help others learn that there is life after a celiac diagnosis. Gluten-free dining and travel are two of her favorite things to do. Tiffany is a contributing writer and the Advertising Manager at "Delight gluten free" magazine. Check out her local blog, Gluten-Free Atlanta, for tips and tricks about living gluten-free in the ATL! Follow Tiffany on Twitter!

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Comments

  1. anne steib says:

    Being a huge tea drinker here, the type to look out for the most are the herbal teas. However, all Stash teas are gluten-free. Many Tazo teas are, but not all, so it is important to check. Before being diagnosed, I was a huge fan of raspberry tea, but have since found out many do contain gluten (though Stash is safe).

    My standard drink at Starbucks is chai. i will actually get it when my stomach bothers me and it makes me feel better,

    Also, when I am somewhere other than Starbucks, I always ask to see what type of chai they are using, and many places I go to use Orgeon Chai..which is safe.

  2. Anne – I’m also a huge tea drinker but I’m not into herbal teas, which do tend to contain gluten more often then black or orange teas. Thanks for letting us know about the Chai being safe at Starbucks. I will definitely try it there some time! I’ve been avoiding the place since they discontinued the gf cake. I wasn’t in love with the cake but it was better than nothing. Mostly, I was annoyed at the way Starbucks handled the entire situation. Whoever they hired to consult about gluten-free options should have been fired.

  3. Sean says:

    I’m a huge tea fan … to the point people make fun of me and my (impressive) tea drawer at work. I regularly drink Bigelow Raspberry Royale with no effects (I’m sensitive to the Nth degree) and Bigelow’s Red Raspberry herbal tea is labelled gluten free.

    Update: Raspberrey Royale is GF as well:

    http://www.bigelowtea.com/Catalog/Product/36/1/548/Raspberry+Royale.aspx

  4. Sean – thanks for letting us know that Bigelow is marking some of their teas gluten-free! I have some in the panty and have not even noticed if they added gluten-free to the package. I just knew they were gluten-free and have enjoyed them for many years – before and after going gluten-free. Happy holidays and enjoy your tea in these cool winter months!

  5. Kathryn says:

    I was checking the Bigelow Red Raspberry Herbal tea label, and noticed it said GLUTEN FREE , but in the ingredient list it states “raspberry flavors (wheat)”, confusing! So, needless to say, I haven’t risked it. This kind of labelling issue drives me crazy!

  6. Kati says:

    I don’t know if this is common practice but I was at an Au-Bon location and witnessed an employee putting a slice of bread in the coffee filter before adding the coffee grounds to help slow the brewing process.
    I haven’t gotten coffee from them since but my co-worker who also has celiac still gets it there regularly and she complains of stomach problems a lot.

    It is a good idea to also ask if your caffeine supplier follows this practice.

  7. A_Decker says:

    FYI – I found a website that offers coffee and flavored coffees that are guaranteed gluten free. I always thought coffee was gluten free, but you never know what distributors put in. Anyway, it’s johnsjava.net. Please don’t think I’m advertising – just something I found I t hought was interesting.

  8. BETTY ROSS says:

    i am trying to cut out gluten but still bloat every day, instant coffee is the only thing i have everyday with lactose free milk so i am very sus on this now.

  9. Cindy says:

    Is the Mcdonalds Frappe” gluten-free

  10. jessica says:

    What do you think about the following website saying coffee is not gluten free: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/gluten-issues-or-celiac-dont-drink-coffee/

    • Jessica,

      I have never heard that before! Interesting. I drink coffee daily and have none of the symptoms I was having when I was eating gluten and my most recent blood work/screening to see if I was having issues with gluten was negative (just 2 months back).

      Kim

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] avoid, like malted milk and flavors {see a past tip for more info on natural flavorings}. Lastly, Celiac-Disease.com states that coffee is gluten free, but you have to watch out for tea.  I know this is true, as tea [...]

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