When you go gluten free the first thing just about everyone thinks of is bread and baked goods. Then slowly you start to consider things like sauces, spice mixes and more hidden sources of gluten. By that time you feel like you’ve gotten a pretty good handle on things (hopefully) but very few people really think about their beverages. Admittedly, this is one category where you probably pretty safe where gluten is concerned but there are some things to note when considering gluten free coffee, tea and beverages.
Coffee is trickier than you might think when it comes to gluten concerns. While coffee beans themselves are naturally gluten free, the beans can come from multiple sources and processing plants which ups the chances of cross-contamination if the facility also processes gluten ingredients.
To muddy the waters further, caffeine can sometimes mimic the ill effects of gluten exposure such as frequent bathroom trips. If this happens it can be difficult to tell if you are simply sensitive to the caffeine or if your cup contained gluten. Coffee creamers pose the same problem as do any multi-ingredient specialty drinks. Coffee flavorings can also be problematic since they, too, can have gluten laden ingredients or come from a facility that processes gluten ingredients.
Major chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, Caribou Coffee, and Starbucks all claim to use gluten free beans but the vast array of gluten filled products made and sold in these stores makes cross contamination an unfortunate possibility.
If you do have severe allergies the best way to ensure your brew is gluten free is to make it at home with certified gluten free coffee such as:
Jungle Coffee – Ground Costa Rican Gourmet Organic Dark Roast: This ground coffee comes from a single origin bean to promote a smooth, uniform taste through each batch. The dark roast style of this coffee makes it perfect for specialty drinks like cappuccino, latte and cafe au lait where milk and other ingredients can overpower weaker blends. You don’t have to miss out on specialty espresso based treats when you brew Jungle Coffee. Along with being gluten free it is also fair trade, organic, non-GMO, and pesticide free.
WILD JO Dark French Roast Organic Coffee: Wild Jo is an intensely dark roast with hints of dark cocoa and brown sugar that can be brewed as coffee or enjoyed as espresso. Brew it as espresso for a strong shot or use it to create other coffee based desserts and specialty drinks including iced coffee. It is made from 100% Arabica beans and is also fair trade and organic along with being gluten free.
Soda and Soft Drinks
Generally speaking, sodas are gluten free. U.S. soda companies, in particular, are quite safe when it comes to gluten sensitivity but when you are travelling abroad there might be a chance of cross contamination due to different manufacturing facilities. Both Coca-
Cola and Pepsi though you should still check labels. Smaller soda companies can pose more of a problem so when in doubt call their customer service or choose a different soda.
Protein drinks are becoming more and more popular for people who work out or who need a meal replacement when they are on the go. Unfortunately, these drinks contain TONS of ingredients and few mixes are gluten free either because of the ingredients themselves or because of the processing plant they come from. Many of these ingredients will also look and sound quite foreign to most of us and if there isn’t a gluten-free label on the bottle then it’s pretty likely that it does or could contain some kind of gluten.
When you are choosing a gluten free protein drink go with trusted companies that have a gluten-free label or that you have researched thoroughly. CytoSport makes Muscle Milk protein drink in a variety of flavors. There are also a variety of protein powders you can use to make your own protein drink. While not as convenient as pre bottled mixes, unflavored protein powders contain far less ingredients and there are several that can be safe depending on brand. Additionally, you can control other ingredients and flavorings to minimize the amount of artificial products you consume.
Plain tea shouldn’t contain gluten unless it has been contaminated by other ingredients in the facility where it is processed. However, some teas contain barley malt as a sweetener and barley-based flavorings. Yes, even REAL tea can have these.
Each major tea company has its own statement on gluten with some certified gluten free and others merely stating that to “to the best of our knowledge,” none of their teas contain gluten. This statement comes from Tetley Tea which is a pretty common brand. While it is unlikely to their teas to contain significant amount of gluten based on this statement, it is not a very comforting stance if you have a severe allergy. For a complete listing of statements on each major tea company’s gluten policy visit here: Which Brands and Flavors of Tea Are Gluten-Free?
Beer and Spirits
Beer can be pretty dicey for anyone suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. There are a variety of brands that do offer a gluten free beer option and this is definitely one beverage you need to read the label for an actual “gluten free” statement. If it doesn’t have one, then that beer almost definitely has gluten in it. If you are having trouble finding gluten free beer (or at least, a
gluten free beer you actually like) then consider these alternatives:
Hard Cider: Cider is typically gluten free because it is brewed from apples, not barley or other grains. Also, cider typically has an ingredient list on the bottle, unlike many other alcoholic beverages.
Gluten Free Hard Liquors: Potato vodka, rum and Tequila are all gluten free. Any gluten used in the production of these liquors is removed during the distillation process however to be especially safe it is recommended that celiac sufferers stick to ONLY potato vodka. All varieties of tequila and rum should be safe as long as there are no additives.
Hard Liquors that Contain Gluten: Whiskey and bourbon can both pose an issue for those trying to avoid gluten. While many say the distillation process takes away the gluten in these liquors, sometimes the fermentation process isn’t done correctly and some gluten remains. It also depends on just how sensitive to gluten you are. Some people can handle these liquors with no adverse effects while others report that they do.
Overall, when choosing gluten free beverages sodas, tea and coffee are mostly safe but read labels carefully for added ingredients. Most protein drinks do contain gluten so choose wisely. Beer is only gluten free when it is specifically labeled as such while hard liquors are mostly gluten free but those with severe gluten sensitivity may experience a reaction due to residual gluten leftover from the distillation process.