How to Order Gluten-Free at STARBUCKS
Happppy Monday! Monday means coffee, at least for me. If you’ve read my about page or my First Bite blog post, you know that I’m a big coffee lover. While I love exploring cute new coffee-shops and trying fancy lattes and iced coffees on the weekend, Starbucks is my go-to during the week. They have good, strong coffee to get me through the 5am wake-ups, long commutes, and busy days - and, they are accessible almost everywhere. Now that it’s the middle of June and the days are getting warmer, I always choose iced drinks (read: I always choose iced drinks, but now it’s acceptable), so this Starbucks guide focuses on drinks perfect for the summertime!
After being diagnosed with celiac disease, I did a lot of my own research on what’s gluten-free at Starbucks - and found a lot of what I found really contradictory and just... confusing. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite gluten-free drinks at Starbucks, and some things to seriously avoid. I typically stick to boring black coffee or green tea as they are the safest options, but its always fun to try new drinks - and black coffee isn’t your only option at Starbucks!
PLEASE NOTE: I reached out directly to Starbucks, and they told me there’s always a chance of cross-contamination at it is not a dedicated gluten-free facility, this is the note I received in return: Unfortunately, we do not carry any certified gluten free products outside of some packaged snack foods. The products that have received gluten-free certification will be marked clearly on the packaging. Throughout our stores, we openly handle gluten containing ingredients and other allergens. While we take precautions to keep ingredients separate, we cannot guarantee that any of our beverages and foods are allergen free as we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them. Thank you for reaching out and I hope you have a great day.
Before ordering, be mindful that cross-contamination is a possibility, but some drinks are very safe while others are not (which I will dig deeper into!). Starbucks does its best to ensure the safety of its customers, but nothing is guaranteed. I’ve included my five favorite drinks that I know are gluten-free, and five things to avoid: but these aren’t necessarily the only gluten-containing drinks at Starbucks, so do your own research or consult your barista before trying something new!
My Top 5 Gluten-Free Drinks at Starbucks
from my most to least common order
Iced Blonde Americano
If you haven’t tried Starbucks blonde roast, this is a must-try. Smoother than their regular espresso roast, with the same kick - their blonde is so good and requires less milk/cream/sugar. I tried it a year ago, and haven’t turned back since. Iced blonde americano is my go-to coffee order during the week, because it gives me the caffeine I need without all the empty calories like their lattes, frappuccinos, etc.
Note: this is one drink that is generally a safe option from Starbucks if you’re erring on the side of caution. Americano is water, ice, and espresso shots, meaning there is not much room for error, and no need to have contact with blenders or other similar equipment. In this list would also include other black coffees, lattes, iced teas, and their (gluten-free) hot teas.
Unsweetened Green Iced Tea
My original Starbucks order, since even before I drank coffee (fun fact: I used to hate coffee. Times have changed, quickly!). I still order this pretty frequently, especially when I’m looking for something cold and refreshing, without the amount of caffeine a coffee would give me. I order it unsweetened because I don’t want the added sugar or sweetness!
Iced Blonde Latte with Soy Milk
Everything I said about the blonde americano, but in latte form. The Starbucks blonde is so good in an iced latte, it tastes just sweet enough with no added sweeteners or syrups, because it lacks the bitter taste of their regular espresso roast. I avoid dairy as much as I can, so I never order lattes with regular milk. I’ve tried all of Starbucks dairy-free milk options in this drink, and I’ve found soy milk to taste the best in a latte.
Strawberry Acai Refresher
For me, this one is definitely a treat. The Starbucks refreshers are sweet and filled with sugar, so aren’t an everyday drink (at least for me!). The strawberry acai refresher (and the Pink Drink) are gluten-free, as well as their other refreshers. However, please note: some people love to order these with lemonade instead of water. As good as it may sound, the Starbucks lemonade is not gluten-free, so make sure you don’t make this change!
Unsweetened Iced Coffee (with almond milk and one pump of hazelnut)
I very rarely order this drink, but it’s always good when I do! I know this post is about Starbucks, but at Dunkin’, my coffee order is an iced coffee with hazelnut and almond milk. Sometimes I’m not necessarily going to pass a Dunkin’ or I’m in a rush, and I order this at Starbucks. I don’t love that their hazelnut syrup has sugar, (I get the flavor shots at Dunkin), but it’s gluten-free, and good if I’m in the mood for hazelnut! I order this with almond milk, because it mixes well with the hazelnut flavor.
Bonus Drink: Cold Brew with Cascara Cold Foam
Here’s a bonus drink because it’s that good. Starbucks cascara cold foam is gluten-free, and so good! It’s different than other tastes you find at Starbucks, and not as heavy as a latte or frappuccino. You can add cold foam to any coffee, but it tastes great with their cold brew. A must-try!
Not-So-Gluten-Free: Things to Avoid at Starbucks
Sandwiches - even gluten-free
Even if your local Starbucks has gluten-free breakfast sandwiches (mine does not), be careful with these! They use the same equipment to heat them up as their gluten-filled sandwiches… which defeats the purpose if you’re celiac and you’re cross-contaminated. Either take it home to heat up, or avoid altogether!
While some (read: most) ARE gluten-free, they’re all blended in the same blenders (with the caramel syrups, cookie bits, etc). If you’re not celiac there shouldn’t be an issue - but if you are, make sure the blender is sanitized if you’re ordering a frappuccino.
Tazo Hot Teas
Believe it or not, the following Tazo Teas (the brand Starbucks uses) DO contain gluten:
Note: both the black and green iced teas are gluten-free!