Is Coffee Gluten-Free? Everything You Need to Know
BY KATHY GALLO
Coffee is considered to be the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. It’s natural to find that one flavour of coffee you love or tailoring this hot beverage to your desires.
However, those who want to start going on a gluten-free diet may wonder whether or not they should include coffee as a daily consumption. The big question is whether coffee, flavoured or unflavored, store-bought or cafe-fresh, is free of gluten. The answer may surprise you in more ways than one.
Is Coffee Gluten-Free?
In general, coffee does not contain any gluten. That is, coffee bought from grocery stores and certain online brands like Nespresso. Coffee can be safe for a gluten-free diet depending on why the diet is being applied. If you’re on a diet for weight loss or just to eat healthier, then coffee is safe.
Another common reason for this diet, however, is because of gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease. For certain individuals, gluten can cause inflammation in the intestines. It can cause short-term pain and long-term negative results. In this case, coffee is not recommended to consume. Coffee can have the same effects as gluten and possibly even worse.
Though coffee doesn’t have gluten, it can be at risk of cross-contamination. In the same factory that coffee beans are being processed, other foods that contain gluten could also be prepared in the same place at the same time. That is if the company that produces these coffee beans additionally happens to make gluten-rich foods. This is a rare occurrence, though. Just be sure to check the package of coffee and see if it says that it was processed with gluten-containing foods.
Is Flavored Coffee Gluten-Free?
The flavouring in coffee is generally free of gluten. Coffee can be typically flavoured after it has been prepared. Syrups put in the coffee usually won’t contain gluten. Coffee beans could also be pre-flavoured before being crushed and shipped out of the factory. This flavouring, as well, usually doesn’t contain any gluten. Such flavouring doesn’t need gluten to be made. Even if gluten were added, it would be so minuscule that it would be undetectable.
Are Cafe Coffees Gluten-Free?
This is a tricky one, as it can depend on the cafe. Places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts may have gluten in their coffee because of the ingredients they use. The best way to know is to directly ask the coffee shop manager or employees. You could also do some research online. If you’re unsure, then you should stick to a homebrew just to be safe. This is especially if you happen to have gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease.
Cross-Contamination and Cross-Reactivity
Cross-contamination, in this particular case, refers to coffee that was originally gluten-free containing gluten due to contact with a product that has gluten. As previously mentioned, cross-contamination can occur in factories where coffee beans are produced and more often in coffee shops. Many cafes do not do thorough washes of their equipment but, rather, just rinses them. Some leftovers from the last concoction mix with the new beverage. Cross-contamination is not to be mistaken for cross-reactivity, however.
Cross-reactivity is the reason coffee can have the same effect as gluten for bodies sensitive to gluten. Again, coffee doesn’t contain gluten but can make the body react similarly for those with celiac disease. Other foods can also act as gluten cross-reactors, too, such as potatoes and dairy.
Whether the gluten-free diet is to eat healthier or to protect your insides, it’s important to know whether or not coffee contains gluten. Most store branded coffee is free of gluten. The flavouring used for these hot beverages, no matter how unique and exotic, do not contain gluten as well. However, they could receive cross-contamination if the coffee beans were processed in the same plant as other foods that are made with gluten.
Many cafes have their special recipes for coffees, some of which use ingredients that contain gluten. Cross-contamination can happen here, as well. All-in-all, you can drink homebrewed coffee that is guaranteed to have not been prepared in the same area as gluten-filled products. This is unless you happen to have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. You may need to avoid coffees from coffee shops, though.
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