Are flavored coffees gluten free?

latte, gluten free flavored coffee

Latte and photo by Legend

We know regular coffee is gluten free, but what if you’re after a mocha, or some pumpkin spice? We’ve all heard the stories of accidental glutenings from popular coffee chains and even home brews. How can you be sure you are buying gluten free flavored coffee?

Keurig machines (K-cups)

UPDATE 10/6/2017: If you’re just looking to shop, here’s a collection of gluten free K-cups available on Amazon.

Let’s start at the source. Keurig’s web site, which sells Green Mountain Coffee, Gloria Jean’s and Timothy’s Coffee, states:

“Most Coffee and Tea pods are egg, dairy and gluten-free. Please see the individual product nutritionals for a list of ingredients.” They do specifically note that Timothy’s Lemon Blueberry Passion Tea contains gluten. I checked out a few boxes on Amazon and noticed they still only say “natural and artificial flavors,” which is not 100% reassuring. Personally, I enjoy the *Green Mountain Coffee Caramel Vanilla Cream and *Gloria Jean’s Mudslide, and neither bothers me. If you’re really sensitive, I’d take the “better safe than sorry” approach and pass these up for something you know is safe.

mocha, gluten free flavored coffee

These days, Legend makes my mochas at home. No threat of gluten here!

Speaking of safe, check out Crazy Cups. They state on their website that “Our coffee cups contain only 100% coffee and artificial flavorings, sugar free, nut free, no sweeteners, gluten free and they are kosher.” My favorite flavors are *Peppermint Chocolate Mocha, *Caramel Truffle Sundae and *Death By Chocolate – they have all kinds of options, so you’re sure to find something new and exciting to try.

Another really cool feature from Crazy Cups is that the plastic part is recyclable, after removing the lid and inside filter. One of the major drawbacks to the Keurig system has been the amount of trash created, so it’s exciting to see that someone’s stepped up and found a way to improve the environmental impact from single serve coffee brewing. Check out this *Crazy Cups Variety Pack Sampler and see if you can find a new favorite!

Syrups and coffee shop drinks

Say you’re out and about and want to grab your favorite flavored coffee. Or, you’re not convinced by the “artificial and natural flavors” labeling and have decided to make your own flavored coffee at home. One place to start is with flavored syrups. Torani is a common brand for home and in coffee shops. They issued a list of gluten-containing flavors. Notably, caramel classic (but not caramel) and sugar-free caramel classic have gluten in them, so watch out! Unfortunately, this is still not clear on their labels, as evidenced on Amazon, where the Caramel Classic label says nothing about the gluten content!

latte, gluten free flavored coffee

Getting your own espresso machine might not be an option, but it sure is nice. Latte and photo by Legend.

As for coffee shops, I checked Starbucks’ US website for allergen information and found this statement:

“Allergen information is not available online for our beverage selections at this time. If you have an allergen concern, please feel free to ask our baristas to check the ingredient labels.  

We cannot guarantee that any of our beverages are allergen free because we use shared equipment and handle allergens throughout the store.”

As noted above, the labels on the Torani syrups aren’t clear about gluten content, so you’d have to go in prepared, knowing exactly which flavors were on the shelf and which were okay to have.

Researching this article has been really frustrating. Poor labeling from packaged coffee to flavored syrups, combined with an unwillingness on the part of major chains like Starbucks to provide allergen information, makes something as simple as drinking flavored coffee a landmine of possible gluten exposures. This highlights the need for further legal mandates in the United States to appropriately label food, both on the shelves and in restaurants, with allergen information.

Even more gluten free coffee K-cups (September 2016)

Food labels in the United States and United Kingdom

What’s your favorite gluten free flavored coffee? Where can you safely get a flavored coffee on the run? Tell me in the comments!

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