There are many rumor swirling around about whether or not coffee is gluten free. I will set the record straight about gluten in coffee once and for all. I also tested several popular coffee brands for hidden gluten and reveal the results in this article. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Most Americans relish their cup of coffee each morning. In fact, 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every single day, and on average, they drink three cups per day, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA).
If you’re following a gluten free diet, chances are you enjoy a cup of joe every day too, yet, you might be wondering, is coffee gluten free?
It’s likely someone placed doubt in your head because they heard a “rumor” that coffee may contain gluten.
So today, I want to set the record straight. I want to get rid of those Internet rumors once and for all and assure you that coffee is gluten free.
In fact, if you buy coffee beans or instant coffee, and you see only a single ingredient in the bag or jar, you can feel confident that the coffee is gluten free.
Potential Sources for Gluten in Coffee
While coffee is naturally gluten free, there are several ways your coffee could become glutened. Gluten has a funny way of sneaking into naturally gluten-free foods.
Flavorings: If the coffee beans are flavored, you must make sure the flavoring is gluten free. While it might sound tempting to buy hazelnut or french vanilla flavored coffee beans, sometimes these flavors are derived from barley. Look for flavored coffee beans that are labeled gluten free, or stick with unflavored coffees to be safe.
Shared Grinders: If you’re grinding coffee beans using shared equipment, there is a strong potential that those plain beans will become cross contaminated with flavored coffee beans. To minimize your risk of cross contamination, grind your own coffee beans. You can get a coffee grinder on Amazon for less than $20.
Processing: If the coffee beans are processed in a facility that also processes gluten/wheat, the beans may become cross contaminated with wheat, barley or rye. Check the labels to see if there is an allergen disclosure statement. You can also look on the company’s website or send a specific company an email to inquire.
Add-Ins: Another potential source from cross contamination is through traditional coffee add-ins, such as coffee creamers or sugar packets, which may contain gluten. Always check labels.
Cross Contamination: If you’re getting your coffee from a coffee shop, there is a possibility your coffee is getting cross contaminated by the restaurant staff or shared equipment. Some coffee shops now use oat milk, which may or may not be gluten free. I’ve written about my gluten-free experiences at Starbucks in this article.
Warning, This is a RUMOR: I keep getting asked whether coffee companies add wheat to their coffee beans to keep them from sticking together. No, they don’t. I have yet to see a company that would be stupid enough to do this. This is just a rumor so stop spreading it. It’s not true.
Is Decaf Coffee Gluten Free?
Yes, decaf coffee follows the same guidelines as regular coffee. It’s gluten free if coffee is the only ingredient in the jar or bag.
Is Instant Coffee Gluten Free?
I drink instant coffee every single morning with no issue. Again, instant coffee is gluten free as long as the only ingredient in the jar or bag is coffee.
Just to be sure, and to hopefully put some Internet rumors to bed, you can see how the leading instant coffee brands fared when I tested them for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor. The Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that I use to test products for hidden gluten. Right now, the Nima Sensor is not available for purchase, but the ALLIS Sensor is coming soon, so check it out!
Is Folgers Coffee Gluten Free?
Plain Folgers coffee is gluten free, however, Folgers flavored coffees may not be gluten free.
Here is what Folgers says about gluten on its website:
Coffee is not a source of gluten, and our Folgers roast and ground coffee items are produced in a dedicated facility where no other types of agricultural crops are handled or processed; however, due to the use of common equipment within the agricultural community to harvest, store, and transport crops, our roast and ground products may contain trace amounts of grain-based ingredients. Additionally, our flavored coffee products may contain added ingredients that are not gluten free.–Folgers website
I tested the instant Folgers Classic Decaf for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor, and the Nima Sensor did not detect any hidden gluten. (A smiley face on the Nima Sensor means no gluten found.)
Is Nescafe Coffee Gluten Free?
Nescafe is own by Nestle. Unfortunately, I could not find any information online about whether its coffee products contain or have come in contact with gluten. I sent an inquiry to Nestle and received the following response:
Thanks for your interest in our Nestle® Coffee Brands. Our Taster’s Choice® Coffee does not contain gluten.
We consider “gluten free” to mean that no gluten ingredients are in the product, whether directly added, or potentially present due to cross-contact. In other words, if a product label has an allergen advisory statement, such as “may contain wheat”, we do not consider that product to be gluten free. We recommend to always check the label for the most current information before purchasing and/or consuming a product.Nestle Brand Ambassador
I independently tested Nescafe Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor, and Nima did not detect any hidden gluten.
Are Starbucks Via Instant Packets Gluten Free?
You can feel confident enjoying Starbucks Via Instant Coffee because it’s gluten free.
The company’s FAQ on Amazon says all of its coffees are made without wheat products and are gluten free. I also independently tested a via instant coffee packet with my Nima Sensor, and Nima did not find any hidden gluten.
Is Mount Hagen Coffee Gluten Free?
A brand that I personally use is Mount Hagen. I like that it offers USDA-certified organic, free-trade coffee.
I could not find any gluten-free labeling on the packaging or company website, so I submitted an inquiry through the company’s contact form. I will report back the results soon.
In the meantime, I tested Mount Hagen for gluten with my Nima Sensor, and Nima did not detect any hidden gluten.
Are Keurig K-Cups Gluten Free?
I don’t have or use a Keurig, but I did a little research to find out if K-Cups are gluten free.
According to the Keurig website, all K-Cups are gluten free, except the Timothy’s Lemon Blueberry K-Cup pods, which contain malted oats.
All K-Cup® pods are gluten and gluten byproduct-free except for the Timothy’s® Lemon Blueberry K-Cup® pods. This product contains traces of malted oats. For additional nutritional information, you can always contact the roaster directly.Keurig website
If using other brands of k-cups for your Keurig, check the labels and/or website of the company to make sure it doesn’t contain any gluten.
Is Maxwell House Gluten Free?
Maxwell House is owned by Kraft Heinz, a company that says that it will label gluten and gluten sources on the ingredient labels of its packaging.
I submitted an inquiry via the contact form on the Kraft website to glean more details. Here is the reply I received:
We recognize that consumers are interested in gluten for medical necessity (celiac disease) as well as personal preference. The ingredient list on food labels is the best way to get accurate information about whether food and beverage products contain gluten.
Kraft Heinz products list all sources of gluten, including gluten-containing grains (wheat, wheatberries, durum, barley, rye, graham, oats, triticale, spelt, kamut, emmer, farro) and other ingredients (e.g. “natural flavor (contains rye)”, malt, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch). Kraft Heinz has a rigorous protocol to ensure that products bearing a gluten-free claim meet the FDA requirement (less than 20 ppm gluten).Maxwell House Consumer Relations
Still Got an Upset Tummy?
Some people still experience an upset tummy after drinking coffee. If this sounds like you, please consider consulting your doctor to see if there might be something more at play. Remember, you can’t blame gluten for everything.
That said, here are some reasons coffee may be upsetting your stomach, and, again, it may have nothing to do with gluten:
- You may have a sensitivity to caffeine, and you may want to consider switching to decaf to see how you feel. I quit caffeine long ago and personally find I feel better without caffeine. Everyone is different.
- The creamer or sweetener you use may contain gluten. Check labels carefully as gluten can be sneaky. You may also be sensitive to the creamer or sugar you add to your morning cup of joe.
- It may not be the coffee at all; rather, if you have celiac disease, your gut may not have healed fully healed or you have some sort of bacteria imbalance in your gut. Look for ways to improve your gut health so you can better tolerate coffee and other foods. I offer tips to healing your gut in this article.
- You might have a condition known as IBS, whose symptoms mimic celiac disease symptoms. Coffee is known to irritate the gut lining and cause IBS flare-ups. Consult with your doctor.
- There is a small percentage of the celiac population who may experience gluten cross reactivity with coffee. A 2013 study talked about a possible link between instant coffee and the gluten protein, however, the study may not be fully accurate to form a firm conclusion. If you suspect a cross reactivity between coffee and gluten, or if your body is reacting every time you drink coffee, work with a nutrition coach to eliminate coffee from your diet for 4-6 weeks and then slowly introduce it to see how it makes you feel.
- Your body may not tolerate coffee well. Period. Try living without it, or use coffee substitutes like tea or the brands I mention below.
If you love coffee, but ultimately feel like it doesn’t love you back, there are several coffee alternatives that mimic the taste of coffee, including Dandy Blend and Teechino. I discuss each of those brands below and whether they are safe for you to consume on a gluten-free diet.
Is Dandy Blend Gluten Free?
Dandy Blend is a caffeine-free coffee alternative many people enjoy, particular those trying to quit coffee. Dandy Blend is made from five ingredients:
- Roasted barley extracts
- Roasted rye extracts
- Roasted dandelion root extracts
- Roasted chicory root extracts
- Roasted sugar beet root extracts
Before you write-off Dandy Blend, please note that Dandy Blend does NOT contain barley and rye, it contains barley and rye extracts, which are gluten free in a similar way that wheat starch is gluten free.
Dandy Blend confirms that its product is gluten free on its website:
It [our product] does not contain barley and rye. It contains the water extracts of barley and rye, and that is a big difference. Gluten and Gliadin proteins are not water soluble. That means that all gluten and gliadin are left behind in the grounds and get thrown away (usually composted).
We test for gluten and gliaden using the ELIZA tests accepted by FDA and Health Canada. The results always show that there are none or less than 5 ppm of both in Dandy Blend. Standards in both countries are that 20 ppm or less is gluten-free.
A copy of the test results can be found on the Certificates page.Dandy Blend website
Is Teechino Gluten Free?
Teechino is another coffee alternative made from roasted herbal teas. Some Teechino products contain barley and are not safe for someone on a gluten-free diet.
That said, Teechino has several varieties made without barley and that are certified gluten-free from the GFCO.
Are Any Coffee Brands Certified Gluten Free?
You can search the GFCO website to determine if any coffee brands are certified gluten-free label by the GFCO, the leading third-party certifying agency.
I briefly reviewed the list and did not see any mainstream brands, unfortunately.
Is Coffee Gluten Free?
The bottom line is yes, coffee is gluten free. It is very rare that coffee contains gluten, and you should feel confident enjoying coffee. Of course, avoid flavors, cross contamination, and add-ins that may contain gluten. Please discuss any and all health concerns with your doctor. This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only.