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Does Coffee Contain Gluten?!

September 25, 2012

This morning I was making a cup of coffee for my friend Sarah.  I’m a tea drinker, so I never thought much about the ingredients in the coffee itself.  You’d just assume it’s gluten-free, right??  Think again.  So I decided to do a little Google search to grind deeper into the coffee mystery.  Here is what I found:

On the Celiac.com community board someone had posed a similar question.  A contributor responded by saying that “plain coffee can be a problem based on the companies processing procedures.  Starbucks, Folgers, Green Mountain, and Royal Cup (commercial use brand only) are all considered safe brands.  Seattle’s Best, Fair Trade, and every organic brand I have come across contain gluten, or won’t state whether or not they do.”  Another responded saying the opposite, that they drink plain coffee every morning and are fine, you just need to watch out for flavored beverages.  My personal rule of thumb is that if you’re unsure; call the company to check.  It’s better to be safe than end up with stomachache…or worse…

An article about coffee containing gluten by the Healthy Home Economist, author, Sarah Pope, argues that if you’re gluten-sensitive or have Celiac disease, you should avoid all coffee, including decaf.  In her article, Pope writes that “in a nutshell, fairly recent lab research has revealed that 10% of coffee is a protein that cross reacts with gluten antibodies. This means that if you are gluten sensitive or Celiac and are avoiding gluten containing grains or perhaps have even gone completely grain free, if you still drink coffee there is a strong likelihood that the protein in the coffee is triggering the very same gluten related health problems you are trying to avoid.”  YIKES. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, even though coffee IS gluten free, it can cause a reaction in your GI tract, similar to one you’d have when you consume gluten.

On Livestrong.com, there is an article that breaks down more of the specific ingredients that are safe and ones you need to avoid in your lattes.  Article author Sandy Keefe says that “people with Celiac disease have to be sure their hot and cold beverages aren’t manufactured from plant sources containing gluten.”  The good news is “that according to the Celiac Sprue Association, or CSA, fresh-brewed coffee is gluten-free.”  So don’t worry, your morning routine isn’t completely ruined!  However, they do highlight some flavorings to be sure to avoid, like malted milk and flavors (see a past tip for more info on natural flavorings.)

Last, Celiac-Disease.com states that coffee is gluten free, but you have to watch out for tea.  I know this is true, as tea was one area where I was consuming gluten without knowing it (see Gluten Free Tea where I break down different teas that are and are not okay to drink.)  The article on Celiac-Disease dose warn to watch for flavorings at Starbucks, however, they don’t list any specifics.  I guess that will be a future investigation and tip to come!

This is how I feel when I drink coffee…

This is how I feel when I drink coffee!

So, knowing all of this information now, are you going to continue to enjoy your cup of joe?!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2013 11:45 pm

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