I was going to start this post by saying “Starbucks is amazing and everyone should love it”. But instead, I’m going to let you decide for yourself.
Good news! Starbucks has many drink options with no gluten-containing ingredients.
However, Starbucks’ allergy disclaimer clarifies that cross-contamination is possible in Starbucks stores.
We cannot guarantee that any unpackaged products served in our stores are allergen-free because we use shared equipment to store, prepare, and serve them. Customers with allergies can find ingredient information for products on the labels of our packaged products or online at Starbucks.com/menu.Starbucks Website
Also, it is important to keep in mind Starbucks drinks, ingredient lists, and gluten-free options vary based on location, state, city, and especially country. The following information applies to the United States.
(Sidenote, if you’re in the UK, you’re in luck. Because of the UK’s strict labeling laws, Starbucks is incredibly transparent about declaring gluten-containing ingredients in the UK.)
We’ve collected all the information you will need from extensive research, label reading, and communication with customer service and helpful baristas at our local Starbucks.
How to Avoid Gluten Cross-Contact at Starbucks
Even though there is a risk of cross-contamination, you should know how to reduce that risk if you choose to order at Starbucks.
Vet the Ingredients in Your Favorite Starbucks Drink
If you want to find the ingredients of a drink to determine its safety, you can go to the Starbucks website or app to find the ingredients list for a food or drink item.
Click on a drink from the Starbucks menu. Then, scroll down and click on the “full nutrition and ingredients list” button to see what the drink contains.
What about Natural Flavors in the Ingredients?
You will see natural flavors in many of the drinks. For those who routinely check ingredient lists for hidden gluten, you’ll recognize “natural flavors” as a red flag that may mean hidden gluten.
We asked Starbucks about the possibility of hidden gluten in “natural flavors” which is frequently listed in its sauces and syrups. Starbucks responded:
We can confirm that none of the listed inquiries include gluten-containing ingredients. These ingredients are not certified as gluten-free and are not tested for the presence of gluten.Starbucks Customer Service
Additionally, Starbucks is known to call out gluten ingredients, like in its chocolate almond milk shaken espresso which contains chocolate malt powder and clearly states barley as an ingredient.
Starbucks isn’t required to declare gluten in its products and could stop doing so at any moment. If this bothers you as much as it does us, email your Representatives to support the Food Modernization and Labeling Act of 2023. If this act successfully passes, companies must declare barley and rye along with the top 9 allergens.
A Word about Oats and Oat Milk
While oats are naturally gluten-free, the majority of oats are cross-contaminated with gluten grains because they are grown in the same fields and proccessed in the same facilities. It is recommended that celiacs only consume gluten-free oats. Depending on your comfort level and doctor’s guidance, that may mean, labeled, certified, or purity protocol oats. Or no oats at all.
Starbucks oats are not gluten-free. This means oatmeal and parfaits with granola are not safe for individuals with celiac disease.
The toasted cookie topping found on top of the White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew is also made with oats that are not gluten-free.
Starbucks’ Oat Milk is a different story! They generally use Oatly oat milk and Dream oat milk, which are both certified gluten-free. Always confirm the brand of oat milk at each local Starbucks when ordering, as stores have been known to switch the brand due to supply chain issues.
Allergy-Train Your Local Barista
Starbucks employees are not given allergy training.
They are, however, trained to be welcoming and accommodating.
So, if you ask for an accommodation, such as sanitizing the blender, they will be happy to help. Essentially, you’re their allergy training. The employees at our local Starbucks have been trained well! (lol)
Explain you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Ask questions about ingredients, which are available in the app or they’ll happily show you labels. Request specific steps to prevent cross-contact, and explain how that precaution keeps you from getting sick.
Remember to say thank you!
Be Aware of Cross-Contact Risk in the Blenders and Shakers
Drinks that go in the blender or shaker are at higher risk of cross-contamination because drinks both with and without gluten-containing ingredients share the blenders and shakers.
So, if you want to heavily reduce risk, avoid blended drinks or drinks that go in the shakers. You can get drinks that aren’t shaken or blended like teas or some coffees.
However, there is a great alternative rather than avoiding drinks that go in the shaker altogether. You can ask that the drink is mixed in the cup rather than put in the shaker.
Unfortunately, there is no alternative for blended drinks, like frappucinos. They have to go in the blender.
You can ask the barista to sanitize (thoroughly wash) the blender or shaker before making your drink. Make sure to be clear when you ask them to sanitize the blander. When I went to Starbucks and a new employee was working, I asked him to sanitize the blender and he held up a bottle of hand sanitizer (haha).
Personally, I just ask for the blender to be sanitized and verify the barista takes it to the back to be sanitized. They are very good about cleaning the shaker or blender. However, every location and employee is different.
Be Careful with Inclusions
Java chips and cookie crumbles, which contain gluten, are stored by matcha powder, vanilla bean powder, and dried fruit inclusions. There is a risk of cross-contact.
We’ve been safely eating the dried fruit inclusions, as our local Starbucks keeps the fruit and matcha above the java chips and cookies, where they are less likely to be contaminated. This can differ based on location.
If you want to be safe, request the barista open a new package from the back.
Or you can avoid the dried fruit inclusions altogether. It won’t change the taste of your drink.
Safest Gluten-Free Options
The safest options at Starbucks are pre-packaged items with a gluten-free claim on the label. Here’s what Starbucks has to say about packaged products:
Starbucks requires all of our suppliers to have an effective allergen control program. They must make every effort to declare gluten as a potential allergen in our packaged products, including coffee.Starbucks Customer Service
If you want to order a drink and understand it is not zero risk, the safest options are ordering plain coffee or sticking to drinks that can be poured directly into your cup (not shaken or blended).
You can also safely make just about any Starbucks drink you want at home. Check out 50+ Starbucks Copycat Recipes for inspiration.
Now for the fun. Let’s get to the menu!
Most hot coffees on the Starbucks menu do not contain gluten:
- Plain Brewed Coffee (any variety)
- Caffè Misto
- Flat White
- Caffè Latte
- Blonde Vanilla Latte
- Caramel Macchiato
- Oleato Caffè Latte with Oat Milk (always confirm certified gf oat milk)
- Caffè Mocha
- White Chocolate Mocha
Starbucks Coffee Travelers (to-go boxes with spouts that contain 12 servings of coffee and are often seen at meetings and sporting events) have no gluten ingredients. The four varieties are Veranda Blend, Dark Roast, Pike Place Roast, and Decaf Pike Place Roast.
Most Starbucks teas have no gluten ingredients. Here are a few you can enjoy:
- Chai Tea Latte
- Chai Tea
- Earl Grey Tea
- Teavana London Fog Tea Latte
- Royal English Breakfast Tea
- Royal English Breakfast Tea Latte
- Emperor’s Clouds and Mist
- Matcha Tea Latte
- Honey Citrus Mint Tea
- Jade Citrus Mint Brewed Tea
- Mint Majesty
- Peach Tranquility
Starbucks has a few beverages in the hot drinks category with no gluten ingredients:
- Vanilla Crème
- Steamed Apple Juice
- Caramel Apple Spice Drink
- Hot Chocolate
- White Hot Chocolate
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Frappuccinos are one of the higher-risk items because the blender is used to make frappuccinos that contain gluten, such as:
- New Chocolate Java Mint Frappucino (wheat in java chips and chocolate cookie mint sprinkles)
- Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino (wheat in java chips and chocolate cookie grind topping)
- Chocolate Cookie Crumble Crème Frappuccino (wheat in frappuccino chips and chocolate cookie grind topping)
- Java Chip Frappuccino (wheat in java chips)
- Double Chocolaty Chip Creme Frappuccino (wheat in frappuccino chips)
- Chocolate Mint Crème Frappuccino (wheat in frappuccino chips and chocolate cookie mint sprinkles)
That is a lot of gluten going through a shared blender.
But if you ask for the blender to be sanitized, you can reduce (not eliminate) cross-contact risk for other frappuccinos that don’t contain gluten:
- White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino
- Matcha Crème Frappuccino
- Strawberry Crème Frappuccino
- Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino
- Coffee Frappuccino
- Matcha Crème Frappuccino
- Chai Crème Frappuccino
- Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino
- Espresso Frappuccino
- Mocha Frappuccino
- White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (not the seasonal toasted white chocolate varieties)
All plain black cold brew, iced, and nitro cold brew coffees are gluten-free and have the lowest risk of cross-contamination because they go directly into the cup and aren’t shaken or blended.
If choosing a shaken cold coffee, we recommend you skip the shaker, which has been contaminated by barley in the chocolate malt powder. Have your drink poured directly into a cup where you can stir or shake it yourself.
In addition to plain coffee, there are some other fun cold coffees with no gluten ingredients:
- Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew
- Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
- Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee with Milk
- Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew
- Iced Coffee with Milk
- Iced Shaken Espresso
- Iced Caffè Latte
- Iced Blonde Vanilla Latte
- Iced Caramel Macchiato
- Iced White Chocolate Mocha
- Iced Caffe Mocha
You can also have the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso (if you can tolerate oats). Just make sure to double-check that your Starbucks is using Oatly or Dream oat milk, which are certified gluten-free.
There are a couple of cold coffees you want to avoid. For starters, the Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso is made with chocolate malt powder, which contains barley. Next up, you want to avoid the White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew which has a toasted cookie topping made with oat flour.
Following are Starbucks iced teas with no gluten-containing ingredients:
- Iced Chai Tea
- Iced Black Tea
- Iced Black Tea Lemonade
- Iced Royal English Tea Latte
- Iced Royal London Fog Tea Latte
- Iced Matcha Tea Latte
- Iced Matcha Lemonade
- Iced Peach Tea Green Lemonade
You’ll be happy to know there are no gluten-ingredients in any of Starbucks Refreshers! I certainly know I’m happy. Here are several Refreshers you can enjoy:
- Dragon Drink Refresher,
- Mango Dragonfruit Refresher
- Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade
- Strawberry Açaí Lemonade
- Paradise Drink Refresher
- Pineapple Passionfruit Refresher
- Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Refresher
- Pink Drink
- Strawberry Açaí Refresher
There are dried fruit inclusions in the refreshers, which have a high cross-contact risk. They are stored by the java chips and other gluten mix-ins. Ask your barista for inclusions from a new container in the back. Or you can skip the dried fruit inclusions with no impact on the taste of your drink.
Just remember to have the drink mixed in a cup or have the shaker sanitized to reduce the risk of cross-contamination from the shaker.
And enjoy your refresher! It’s my personal favorite variety of drinks at Starbucks!
If you can’t have gluten but still want a festive holiday or seasonal drink, not to worry! There are plenty of options for you at Starbucks:
- Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
- Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
- Caramel Brulée Latte
- Iced Caramel Brulée Latte
- Starbucks Sugar Cookie Almondmilk (2022 holiday sparkles did not contain gluten)
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- Peppermint White Hot Chocolate
- Peppermint Mocha (Hot or Iced)
- Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha (Hot or Iced)
- Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino
- Peppermint White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino
- Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino
- Peppermint Coffee (off-menu item, just add peppermint syrup to your coffee)
Skip the Apple Crisp drinks, like Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, as there is wheat in the spiced apple drizzle.
Also, make sure to avoid the seasonal Toasted White Hot Chocolate, Toasted White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino and Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Crème Frappuccino. Some years the holiday sprinkles on these drinks have contained gluten. If you want to enjoy a toasted white chocolate drink, order it without sprinkles. Or if you want to stay festive, bring your own Betty Crocker sprinkles (check the label, most are labeled gluten-free).
Starbucks has plenty of prepackaged food and drink items safe for celiacs or people on a gluten-free diet. They have:
- Marshmallow Dream Bar (a personal favorite)
- Kind Bars
- Bottled Juice
- String Cheese
- Justin’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
- Starbucks Brand Chips (regular potato chips and, my favorite, sea salt & vinegar chips)
- Starbucks Brand Butter-Flavored Gourmet Popcorn
- Spindrift Flavored Sparkling Water
- Perfect Bars
- Peter Rabbit Organics Pouches
They are all prepackaged and safe from cross-contamination.
Unfortunately, none of the bakery or unpackaged food items are safe from cross-contamination.
Starbucks egg bites have no gluten ingredients, but they are heated in a convection oven that blows around gluten crumbs. The egg bites may be safe for people not sensitive to cross-contamination, but not considered safe for celiacs or anyone sensitive to cross-contamination.
This article was written by Miss E, my 12-year old daugher with celiac disease. It was edited by me, but maintains her unique voice as an author. While Miss E is quite experienced and capable of vetting restaurants and ingredients, she observed and took notes while I personally conducted all of the research with Starbucks employees, verifying ingredients, preparation techniques, and policies.