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 Thompson, The 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)