Starbucks and Gluten Free - A Barista's Findings

September 23, 2011

For anyone who has ever wondered: What is gluten free at Starbucks? This article is for you. 

Surprisingly, I get this question a lot -- both because I'm gluten free, but also because in my other life, I work for Starbucks. Here's a quick overview of what to order (or not order) if you're gluten free or Celiac. 

Disclaimer: All of the below information is based on my personal observations and research. Starbucks does not have a gluten free policy and recipes/ingredient lists may change at any time. Please check with your local store regularly to verify this information.

Food Items
As I'm sure you have may have guessed, everything in the lovely pastry case is totally off limits. Not a single thing behind that pretty glass curtain is safe for those with a gluten or serious nut allergy (note: only a disclaimer for the latter is clearly posted in every store.) In the ready-to-eat category, we have a few more options. In the cold case, there is almost always a fruit cup with a variety of seasonal fruits from melon and grapes to mangoes and blueberries. At the moment, many stores also stock the Salumi & Cheese Bistro Box which is gluten free except for the pre-packaged crackers -- because the crackers are individually wrapped and nothing else in the box contains any gluten, this is my go-to for a quick lunch or protein-rich snack.

At the register or in the snack baskets, there are a few more choices:

- Two Mom's  in the Raw Granola (2 flavors; GF, CF, Vegan & Raw)
- Dried mango or apple slices
- Starbucks Fruit Twists (Strawberry Mango/Blueberry Pomegranate) do not contain gluten ingredients
- Salt & Pepper or Buttered Popcorn do not contain gluten ingredients
- Food Should Taste Good chips are clearly labeled gluten free/dairy free
- Kind Bars are all gluten free and are labeled as such. Available in several flavors including: Cranberry, Blueberry Vanilla, Fruit & Nut and Apple Cinnamon
- Roasted Nut Blends (Cashew Pomegranate, Glazed Almonds, Roasted Almons, Fruit & Nut) do not contain gluten ingredients

Note: Not all products are carried at all locations. Please ask your local store manager for assistance.

Drinks
Perhaps surprisingly, almost all of Starbucks beverage products and components are gluten free -- the exception being the Frappuccino Light Coffee Base for the blended beverages. The only time this product is used is if you order a coffee-based (Mocha, Java Chip, Caramel, Coffee, Espresso, Pumpkin Spice, Salted Caramel Mocha) Frappuccino LIGHT. In a month or two this will no longer be an issue as the recipe is changing and becoming gluten free -- however, until then, please ask your barista to check the label -- it clearly states in bold lettering at the bottom whether or not this product Contains Gluten. Whenever new seasonal syrup-based flavors are released (i.e. Pumpkin Spice, Toffee Mocha, Caramel Brulee), take a few minutes one afternoon and stop by your local store and ask. All of the ingredients are clearly printed on the packaging, just be sure to stop by the store during a lull and ask nicely. 

Just remember that whenever you ask your barista about gluten free products, they may not know what you're talking about. I do my best to educate all my team members and make myself available as a resource, but not every location has that advantage. Be patient. To save yourself a lot of time and energy, instead of asking whether or not <blank> is gluten free, politely ask to see the ingredient list. 

One final note: Starbucks owns Tazo Tea Company and Tazo does have a gluten free policy. Here is the information provided by Tazo (available on the FAQ page of their site):

"All our teas are gluten-free, except for the following:
- Green Ginger
- Tazo Honeybush
- Lemon Ginger"

Now, last time I checked, none of the company-operated Starbucks carry any of these products, but they are available online and at many grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide.

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