Is There Gluten in Your Morning Cup?

By Bridget

As with most people diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, my doctor ordered a much larger test to see what other foods my body didn’t process so easily. Turned out that coffee was another sensitive food. After doing a little research, I found that I may not be the only person sensitive to coffee or tea.

It turns out that coffee and tea can contain trace amounts of gluten. While the beans or tealeaves themselves do not contain any gluten, some products are subject to cross contamination, particularly with barley. Additionally, many flavored coffees contain additives made with wheat flour and other grains, particularly in instant coffees and creamers. The manufacturers use gluten as a filler additive to their product. For the most part, coffees that do contain fillers list them on their labels, so as long as “gelatinized starch,”  “modified food starch,” and “vegetable starch” are not ingredients listed on your coffee, you should be good to drink. But if you’re concerned and have experienced some issues in the past, buy your own beans and grind them yourself to ensure no cross-contamination.

In terms of tea, barley is the most common offender being slipped into your bags. There can be such slight trace amounts that the manufacturer may not be required to list it on the label, so it’s important to look out for the safe teas available to the gluten intolerant community. The Bigelow tea company is very forthcoming with their teas, and even has a gluten-free list on their website so you can be sure that your teas are safe to sip!

As with all issues associated with gluten, it’s truly best to see what works for your body. If coffee and tea have never been an issue, you’re probably good to keep up that morning habit. But if you’ve been feeling funky and can’t figure out what’s doing it, the culprit could lie in that cup of joe!

7 thoughts on “Is There Gluten in Your Morning Cup?”

  1. Interesting! What kind of further tests can I ask my dr for to find out about additional food sensitivities? Are these blood tests? Thanks!!

  2. I, too, cannot drink any caffeinated beverage or eat anything containing caffeine, such as chocolate. It never occurred to me that there might be gluten in these products. I am gluten intolerant, but do not have celiac disease.

  3. Thanks for the good information. Maybe that is why some teas have been bothering me; I know I don’t do well with barley.

  4. Be cautious with Celestial Seasonings tea. Several of their flavors have barley in them. After I learned this, I dumped the ones I had, just in case. None of their boxes I’ve seen (so far) say anything about separate or shared lines/facilities, so why take a chance?

    Never had a problem with Bigelow. Tevana is also awesome, and totally gluten free. One of their Rooibos teas even makes a significant dent in my itching from any accidental glutenings (touching or ingesting).

    Starbucks Vanilla flavored beans have never given me any problems. The caramel smells great but, I can’t get any clarification on the natural flavorings ingredient.

    Coffee in and of itself has never bothered me, but I try to stay away from the flavored ones unless I know 100% what the flavor is from, and just flavor it myself if I’m so inclined.

    @Patti Coolsen – It may just be the caffeine that is bothering you, just fyi. My Dad can’t have caffeine any longer, for example, but gluten isn’t an issue for him at all. Not to say that some chocolate can’t have gluten in it – I’ve seen plenty that do (or which are cross contaminated) but there is also loads of gluten free chocolate. I’m highly sensitive to gluten, and I eat chocolate all the time without issue.

  5. My teenager can have very little chocolate before her stomach starts cramping or feeling bothered so she only eats a small bit and it has to be non-dairy. She avoids caffeine and sodas and has throughout her teen years. She says corn and almonds,sodas bother her. The other tests did not reveal these problems–it has been through experience but many of the items listed for avoidance for IBD sufferers seem to be on her list to avoid. I wonder how many celiac suffers have trouble with caffeine.

  6. For the most part, coffees that do contain fillers list them on their labels, so as long as “gelatinized starch,” “modified food starch,” and “vegetable starch” are not ingredients listed on your coffee, you should be good to drink.

    Wait–if those fillers had wheat in them–wouldn’t they have to be labeled as such? Barley isn’t commonly used to make modified food starch, right?

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