I’d never heard about gluten allergies before coming to the United States. I came across a muffin that was labeled as “Starbucks gluten-free” (ironically) and had to ask my friend what the difference between this muffin and a regular muffin was. It was at a time when I was still carrying around a little notebook to write down the meaning of certain slang words I heard and didn’t understand. So, I thought it was just another slang term for a muffin, and oh boy was I wrong.
Since gluten allergies are becoming more common in the US, many companies are coming out with recipes and meal plans that don’t contain wheat or other gluten-containing grains. Luckily for us, Starbucks is very accommodating to customers with allergies and intolerances, and there are quite a few Starbucks gluten-free items to choose from. Just keep in mind that there’s a possibility of cross-contamination during preparation.
1. The Basics: Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha, Americano, Espresso
Plain coffee is one of the safest choices when it comes to gluten-free drinks. Certain syrups contain gluten, so it’s best to avoid them to be safe.
Starbucks’ gluten-free menu includes the Very Berry Hibiscus and Lime refreshers. Starbucks have also released their Refreshers in grocery stores, but I think the ones purchased directly from Starbucks are better.
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3. Gluten-Free Breakfast Sandwich
Recently, Starbucks introduced a smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich, which is the first gluten-free certified item on their menu. When you’re ordering this sandwich, don’t forget to mention that you want a gluten-free option (because they offer a regular bacon and egg sandwich as well). The gluten-free version is assembled and packed at a separate location, so make sure the sandwich is fully sealed before purchasing to avoid any contamination.
4. Hot Chocolate
All of the hot chocolate drinks are gluten-free except for the caramel hot chocolate and any with toppings other than whipped cream. It’s always good to warn your barista about your allergy, especially during Christmas season when there are often additional toppings on drinks.
5. Iced Chai Tea Latte
An iced chai is my personal favorite drink that I can never resist (even though I’m lactose intolerant). If you order a hot version of this drink, be cautious. Baristas use the same milk steamer for all types of milk. Sometimes it’s better to go with iced, just to be safe.
6. Marshmallow Dream Bar
Another knockout option on the Starbucks gluten-free menu, the Marshmallow Dream Bar is exactly what it sounds like. This treat is a combination of marshmallows and puffed rice cereal and is a gluten-free certified product.
7. Frappuccino Options
Frappuccinos are a staple at Starbucks, and they seem to come out with new combinations and limited-edition drinks every other week. Almost all of the Frappuccinos on the menu are gluten-free (excluding the caramel flavor , of course), but you need to be really cautious since all Frappuccinos are blended in the same blender. Ask your barista to clean the blender thoroughly to make sure that it’s fully clean (they won’t hate you for that, I promise!).
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8. Bottled Coffee
Any bottled drink shouldn’t contain gluten, however Starbucks does sell Caramel Frappuccinos in stores, which you should definitely avoid. Ingredients change, so always double check any bottled drink for gluten-containing ingredients.
Good news, tea lovers! Most of the teas offered at Starbucks are gluten-free, with the exception of the following Tazo teas: Green Ginger, Tazo Honeybush, Lemon Ginger, and Tea Lemonade.
10. Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie
A brownie is a staple dessert for me. Starbucks offers regular and gluten-free versions of this dessert. When ordering it, make sure your barista changes their gloves to eliminate contamination. Also, pay close attention to where the gluten-free brownie is stored; it should be separated from the rest of the desserts.
This is pretty obvious, but Ethos water does’nt contain gluten. They say water is our best friend? I can totally agree since you can trust this bad boy at all times.
It’s not easy dealing with a gluten allergy, but most chains like Starbucks have some gluten-free options you can enjoy. Although there’s a limit to what you can enjoy at Starbucks, I’m sure the menu will expand in the near future.