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53 Comments

  1. 1

    Wendy

    Pet peeve…..It is CELIAC disease…Not CELIAC’S disease. Am I the only one that annoys? :)

    I usually order a non-fat chai tea latte at Starbuck’s and (knock on wood) haven’t gotten sick yet.

    Reply
    1. 1.1

      Alysha

      The flavored coffee drinks all come in contact with some other utensil or blender that has been used with a glutinous drink. I didnt even think about their teas! I wonder if you haven’t gotten sick because they don’t use any utensils to make chai tea…?!!

      Reply
      1. 1.1.1

        Ms. Pris

        I don’t really like Starbucks but if I need an emergency coffee I will go there. Not every drink is stirred with a spoon or utensil, that is usually only mochas or caramel drinks.

        If you get a plain coffee or an unflavored espresso drink, you should be fine. The only thing put into the espresso machine is water and coffee grounds. The foam nozzle on the espresso machine is put into milk, soy milk, or almond milk. If you get an iced espresso drink there’s no nozzle action.

        I would like to see a little less hysteria and a little more critical thought from both sides of the counter.

        Reply
    2. 1.2

      Marie

      Lol, nope Wendy, you’re not the only one! It bugs me too 😜

      Reply
    3. 1.3

      anon

      When people call it Celiac’s disease it irritates me too. Especially when I’m extra irritable because I’ve been glutened. Before I had to go dairy free I would have their hot chocolate without any problems until I had to stop.

      Reply
    4. 1.4

      Jo

      That would send me right to the ER! Anything flavored like that. 😢

      Reply
    5. 1.5

      Madison

      GIRL NO!!! The Chai has Barley sugar! (I’m a barista.) Stay away from the Chai, Frappuccino chocolate chips, and caramel drizzle!

      Reply
    6. 1.6

      Madison

      GIRL NO!!! The Chai has Barley sugar! (I’m a barista.) Stay away from the Chai, Frappuccino chocolate chips, and caramel drizzle! Everything else is fine. (But cross-contamination with Frappuccinos may happen.)

      Reply
  2. 2

    Alysha

    Very upset by their response. Sounds like they are beating around the bush because they know exactly what you are asking, and have no desire to make a difficult change to their kitchens. They enjoy appealing to the “gluten-intolerant” grrr… 😡

    Reply
  3. 3

    JAB

    Reads as though someone cut & paste their responses from standard company replies and completely failed to really read & comprehend your messages to them. Missed opportunity for Starbucks, in my opinion.

    Reply
    1. 3.1

      Betsy in Michigan

      Yes; the cut-an-paste makes it seem like the answer comes from a robot. Serious FAIL on Starbucks part (“We are unable to ACTUALLY respond to any questions you may have for us”!). Why bother with purveyors like that…..

      Reply
  4. 4

    Ivan

    I can see both sides in this; certainly from a Dude standpoint, you want to assist Starbuck’s and assist the community. For this you’re to be praised.

    However, from *their* point of view, just take a step back and see how this’d work out? Their stores aren’t independent; they’re all under the same darned umbrella and so if you were to rock up to Starbuck’s HQ and have a pow-wow with them, can you imagine the logistical nightmare of filtering that information down to every store? And if there’s a mistake, something you’ve overlooked – or something they’ve overlooked – and they’re at the wrong end of a lawsuit? They’ll be asked ‘who advised you’ and their answer? “Er, Glutendude…”…and they may, y’know, shuffle their shoes and look at the ground, uncomfortably.

    This isn’t to take from your passion/enthusiasm/knowledge…but if I ran a company that size and some bloke off of the internet approached me out of the blue, I’d probably give him a wide berth as well.

    Peace out

    Reply
    1. 4.1

      Gluten Dude

      Fine use of the word “bloke”. :)

      Reply
  5. 5

    Katie

    I used to work at Starbucks and the only thing that really comes into contact with gluten is the blender! They throw cookies in some of those Frappuccinos. But the hot and iced espresso drinks should be fine. They usually have the gluten Frappuccino stuff on the opposite side from the other stuff too. =) the syrups are just sugar syrups, and the mocha powder is gluten free. I don’t know too much about the new seasonal syrups, but they just look like heavy sugar syrups as well.

    Reply
    1. 5.1

      Lisa

      I’ve been told by Starbucks employees that the Mocha powder is NOT gluten-free. I read something somewhere about the soy milk not necessarily being GF, although that was a couple years ago so I don’t know if they changed.

      I agree this is frustrating since my son like the steamers, but I do my best to keep him away from Starbucks because they have so many things moving around, I understand how they don’t want to say anything is GF.

      Reply
    2. 5.2

      susan

      The new edition frapps syrups stay away from. One has wheat and the other barley. Can’t remember which. If dairy allergy, stay away from anything w steamed milk. There is a great new iced drink with coconut milk. Not the pink drink. If wanna stay away from coffee, the refresher are good, have them not shake it. I get the marshamello bar and the salad. There are some new snacks, hippeas chips are great!!!! Always ask to see label if not sure! Baristas will be glad to help you out.

      Reply
  6. 6

    redheadedceliac

    Thank you for being our advocate and reaching out. You definitely were getting a series of copy/pastes (as someone mentioned) and likely from an employee with little to no power. I’m wondering if this went a little higher up, you might get more receptive results or at least someone who appears to read your words.

    Reply
    1. 6.1

      Gluten Dude

      I think God has more important things to worry about. Or did I go a bit too high up? ;)

      Reply
  7. 7

    Colette (Sullivan) Ledoux

    Perhaps you should write them back a third time and state that, once again, you have been misunderstood. Let them know that their response was in reference to “Celiac’s” disease, but you were inquiring about gluten-free options for those with “Celiac” disease. Yes indeed, mighty kind they responded to you, but what’s it worth when they really don’t have a clue about the topic you are inquiring about?

    Reply
  8. 8

    Amy

    Your story brings to mind a scene from the Princess Bride — I do not think that means what you think that means. Sponsorship? No. Research? No. Solicitation of any kind? Perhaps, if requesting information is solicitation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

    Reply
    1. 8.1

      Gluten Dude

      Love it Amy.

      “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

      Reply
  9. 9

    KateJ

    In the U.K. (for the moment) all food and drink outlets must have this information to hand.
    It still annoys me when Starbucks put their gluten free brownies in the display, cuddling the gluteny ones. (Last seen this Saturday)
    If it’s a large company (with central purchasing) they should be able to provide consistency within any country?

    Reply
  10. 10

    Mary

    Thanks for your efforts as always. Just be careful, even some of their TAZO teas contain gluten. I believe TAZO has that info on their website.

    Reply
  11. 11

    TCT

    Thanks for this, Dude. A couple of years back I got ripped to shreds by another reader on here for saying in a comment that our safety is not guaranteed at Starbucks. Which is just a fact. So I’m happy to see this out in the open here in Dudeland.

    My stepson worked for Starbucks for 8 years as a manager and troubleshooter all around the NYC region. He loved the company and all of their products! And yet he repeatedly warned me never to get any prepared beverage there, because he was very clear that I would not be safe. I know folks don’t want to hear it, but they change their mixes, powders, and syrups seasonally and introduce new stuff all the time and much of it is not gluten free. And preventing cross-contamination is just not a company priority. Unless they have a designated gluten free nozzle (and I’ve yet to meet a Starbucks that does) the nozzle making your drink has previously been used to make flavored beverages with gluten in the flavorings. Even if it’s washed in between every drink (and it isn’t at many busy locations, believe me) it has rubber parts and all sorts of little crevices where particles can hide, and I sure am not taking that chance with my health. I didn’t throw out all plastic and rubber in my kitchen, just to go elsewhere and get glutened by it. The only thing I will drink there is plain black coffee, and I even hesitate sometimes with that, because the folks making that coffee are handling so much gluten each day and not changing their gloves between each task. I won’t touch their tea–I got badly glutened once drinking Tazo. Believe me, I want to drink there, too! I miss the Christmasy gingerbread and egg nog lattes more than I can say :( But it’s just not safe. I’ve now identified a local indie coffee shop that uses no glutenous flavorings or ingredients–only syrups from a known gluten free brand.

    If you have a really great relationship with the folks at your local Starbucks and they will change their gloves and sterilize the nozzles and utensils for you before making your drink, and you feel confident about them, then great. I’m super happy for you. Go for it. But please don’t walk into any old random Starbucks and expect to be safe. There is just way too much there that contains gluten and way too much cross-contamination. I want all of us to stay healthy and well <3

    Reply
    1. 11.1

      Gluten Dude

      Great info TCT…thanks.

      Reply
  12. 12

    Deb

    If I HAVE to go to Starbuck’s, I only order coffee with cream (no flavorings or additives), bananas, and Kind bars.

    Reply
  13. 13

    Jessica Gremillion

    I don’t think it would really be too much trouble for them to put up a sign, or having a pamphlet or something somewhere with an “Allergy List” type of menu. It could have the typical CYA stuff, information about cross contamination, a listing of their gluten-free packaged foods (like almonds, kind bars, marshmallow bar, chips I think, juices, fruit bowls) and then a list of drinks that don’t “contain gluten” but have the usual disclaimer on there about shared prep area. That should satisfy their lawyers.

    I go to Starbucks all the time and I have Celiac Disease. Here is what I’ve gotten with no issue:
    Plain Lattes
    Plain Lattes with vanilla or hazelnut syrup, normal and sugar free
    Soy Lattes (vanilla and hazelnut also)
    Regular Chai
    Soy Chai
    Iced Green Tea
    Earl Grey and English Breakfast hot tea
    London Fog (Earl Grey misto + vanilla syrup)

    The only time I’ve been glutened was when they got the order wrong and put caramel sauce on top of my drink. The caramel drizzle is NOT gluten free. One sip and I was like, mmmm this is delicious! uhoh! haha.

    Reply
    1. 13.1

      Lisa

      I do the same thing, Jessica, and only have the drinks you mentioned, with soy as I have to do dairy lite. I have Celiac and am sensitive to the crumb level and in 11 years gf, have never once been glutened by Starbucks. I have their drinks once to twice a week. I just love the Chai latte’s!

      In the UK, Starbucks is totally different and it all boils down to the US liability laws. We are so sue happy here in the States, it affects everything we do, so the blame is mostly on the American public’s mindset that they should be compensated for every little infraction. I am not against lawsuits for legitimate reasons but we do go overboard here.

      As one poster previously stated, they do screw up with the brownies and I never eat those but they offer prepackaged salads and yes! delicious wraps on bread that defies anything you can buy here in the States. All are prepackaged and I have never once been the tiniest bit sick from them. The wraps are Warburtons and they rock. Gf bread in the UK is far better than ours and NO HOLES! We live in the land of innovation and yet? Gf bread has a long way to go. : (

      Reply
    2. 13.2

      Sassy Nic

      Thank you Jessica. Sometimes all we can go on is our own experience. I appreciate you sharing yours.

      Reply
    3. 13.3

      Jessica Gremillion

      I thought I would follow up after my 3 years of a regular Starbucks habit, having Celiac Disease, and going in for regular (annual) check-ups with my doctor for my “have you been a good celiac” tests (as she calls it, haha).

      I have had these drinks without problem on a regular basis without issue:
      Americano, with cream and either sugar or vanilla syrup
      Latte, plain or vanilla
      Almond milk green tea latte (their macha is gf! woop)
      Plain green tea (emporer’s cloud), english breakfast, earl grey, peach tranquility
      Tea latte: english breakfast, earl grey
      Soy chai latte
      Iced plain green tea

      The almond milk + macha is new for me this year! I was hesitant for a while, but I asked the barista if I could read the ingredients label on both their almond milk and macha powder and they obliged. I also did google searches and they came up clean. Success so far.

      I can’t comment on hazelnut this year, I think they changed the formulation recently because I remember disliking the taste of it a while ago and haven’t had it for a long time.

      I DO know that when I looked up the caramel flavor syrup that it is NOT gf, and of course the caramel drizzle.

      If I need food while I’m there, I’ll get a kind bar, and I’ve had the sweet potato chips a couple times too and they are tasty though expensive.

      Also, regarding nozzles, unless things have changed drastically since I worked there which it very well could have — no flavorings come in contact with the milk steamer wands. It is for milk or apple “cider” only. The flavorings are pumped into the cup along with espresso/tea and then the milk/juice is added to that (unless you get a macchiato or something like that where the espresso is added after). We were also trained to sterilize/steam wands when switching between milk types, or we’d have a dedicated “milk free” wand just for soymilk for the people who were lactose intolerant. Of course if you’re in a crappy starbucks they might not follow all the best practices, but we did. You could always go in when it’s slow and ask them about it, or simply watch them work, to get a better idea of their process.

      On tea: Their tea is Teavana now, and not Tazo. When in doubt go to teavana’s website and look up the ingredients.

      Stay away from all frapps. The blenders are not sterilized between each drink, they are simply rinsed out. Hard stop.

      Reply
  14. 14

    LighthouseCeliac

    My son is the best coffe roaster around. Consider that I am biased. Bangarangcoffee.com
    All they do is roast. The environment and handling is all safe. I am Celiac and his wife is sensitive. Give it a try!! First roast is in August sometime. Oh did I mention he is a former Coastie? Coffee snobs rejoice!!

    Reply
  15. 15

    Joan

    We tell companies that the Celiac community is 1% of the population, but the bigger picture is that they are losing more visits than that. When I go out with my friends or family we pick a GF safe place to eat. So even though it is only me that needs GF, the places that are not GF safe are missing out on at least 2, but often 4 or more meals (or coffees) served. Same with the food we buy. I am not sure they realize this.

    Reply
    1. 15.1

      Jacquie

      You’re absolutely correct. There are tons of restaurants and cafes we (friends and family) don’t go to as a group anymore, and it’s all because of me! lol

      Reply
  16. 16

    Rosie

    Another option is to suggest restaurants contact the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) at http://www.gluten.org. They offer a gluten free certification program for restaurants. I know I would feel safer eating at a restaurant that is certified in having processes and procedures in place to create safe gluten free meals or drinks.

    Reply
    1. 16.1

      LighthouseCeliac

      Every chance I get I tell my GIG story. I ate at California kitchen which is a certified client of theirs. The gf pizza put me down for 10 months. I lost 30 pounds by the time I finally started to heal. I have not eaten restaurant food since. It has been 30 months now. I will never eat restaurant food again. I nearly didn’t make it. I bring my own food to restaurants at business events. The staff seem to think that is great. Never an issue. Never substitute any organization for your own common sense. I learned that the hard way. Just one lazy cook or waitress and your health is in chaos.

      Reply
  17. 17

    Nikki

    One reason that I love having independent coffee shops in my area – they can always tell you what is and what is not gluten free.
    The best one is one in my area that is also a dedicated gluten free bakery!

    Reply
  18. 18

    Alysa

    The last two times I visited Starbucks I was violently sick for 24 hours. (Black coffee and an Americano)

    So yeah, I’m pretty much done with them.

    Reply
    1. 18.1

      LighthouseCeliac

      I fly several times a week and we always start the day with Starbucks. My husband gets the drip and I get a big hot water. I put it in my safe tea thermos along with any Numi tea and I have my perfect safe drink. I go to a meeting and bring my food. We all do it differently. I worked in food service and saw how some handle food. A steak gets dropped on the floor picked up and put right on the grill. Some just don’t care. Now with my health concerns shifting from germs to toxic glutens, I never expect anyone to understand. I stick to Celiac owned businesses when I order “baked” anything. Without Jennifer’s Way bakery I don’t think I would have ever gone for substitute foods. If it is done with passion and knowledge I buy, if not I cry. That simple.

      Reply
  19. 19

    Dick L.

    Dude, you got pigeonholed. I think it was when you mentioned glutendude.com. “Uh oh, this guy has a blog. He wants to do some sort of affiliation. We don’t do that. Be polite, but put him off.”

    Someone suggested roboreplies; that seems like a possibility, too. But you’re on their list now, and they’ll never consider anything you say.

    Reply
  20. 20

    Kelly

    I contacted Starbucks a year ago about the same issue. I got the run around in email, too. Finally I had to call to get a straight answer. I think that a computer and not a person responds to email with the “best” answer, which explains the unrelated responses. Anyway, I was told that NOTHING except a packaged granola bar was safe for me to eat or drink. All of the coffee flavorings, the syrups, the tea, the soymilk, etc. either contained gluten or were processed in facilities that also processed wheat. They then went on to explain that staff are too busy to clean enough for me to have a safe coffee. The conversation ended with “We are sorry for your illness, but we do not recommend you ever eat or drink at our cafes, and if you do, we are not responsible.”

    So…consume at your own risk. As for me, There is better coffee to be had.

    Reply
    1. 20.1

      Lisa

      Whoever told you that everything they have contains gluten or is processed in a facility with wheat is an idiot. All you have to do is read the labels on items and the answer is there. I have yet to find a soy milk with gluten in it and tea? Some may contain gluten but those usually are the flavored tea’s, not plain black tea. It would not be possible for me to drink some of their products and never be sick. The sweeteners they use in the store I go to are safe….I read the label.
      This is all Celiac 101…….

      Reply
      1. 20.1.1

        Kelly

        Well Lisa, thanks for your snarky comment. Kinda unnecessary to explain Celiac 101 to me.

        And I HAVE seen soymilk and plain black tea with labels that say processed in a facility that uses wheat.

        I did my due diligence by contacting the company AND reading labels. But since their labels are either not available (food service products are frequently difficult to get full label information) or do not specify (because its VOLUNTARY to state “manufactured in a facility with wheat”) I had to rely on a phone call.

        I would rather some idiot tell me not to go there than some other idiot tell me I’m safe when I am not.

        Glad to hear you can go there without issue. I choose not to.

        Reply
        1. 20.1.1.1

          Lisa

          It wasn’t a snarky comment. It seems that people want a guarantee in writing from Starbuck’s and it isn’t going to happen. I fail to understand why it is so hard for some people to understand this. I walk into Starbuck’s and ask to see the product label and they hand me the product so I can read the label. Every single time there is something new. If you are new to the Celiac world, then I understand the frustration. It takes time to get good at this but it isn’t rocket science. Maybe it’s the state I live in….extremely high awareness of Celiac. I also never, ever rely on other people to tell me whether something is gluten free or not because, unless they have it themselves, they really don’t understand. Unless I see a label to read, I don’t ingest it.

          It may be voluntary to state whether something is manufactured in a shared facility but the vast majority of products that you would assume could be manufactured as such DO state so on the label.
          I have also never had trouble obtaining a label to read. I have done so hundreds of times over the 11 years I have been gf and never once could I not obtain that information. I don’t get it…..is this a state to state issue? I just can’t be that lucky all the time.

          I stick with two brands of soy milk so maybe that’s why I have never seen one that may contain gluten.
          Ditto for tea…….never have seen any tea that is manufactured in a facility that contains wheat. But, then again, it could be the brands that I drink.

          I think there is too much fear out there and anger at companies that many seem to think don’t make it easier for those with food allergies. Again, the problem stems from too many frivolous lawsuits. If someone gets glutened once from somewhere, when they have taken the risk, many feel they have a right to sue. This is what drives companies to take the stand that they do. Liability laws are different in Europe. That’s why there are more options for us. I’ve been to Europe many times…..whole different attitude and policy. I wish it could be like that here.

          Reply
  21. 21

    Lisa

    I do the same thing, Jessica, and only have the drinks you mentioned, with soy as I have to do dairy lite. I have Celiac and am sensitive to the crumb level and in 11 years gf, have never once been glutened by Starbucks. I have their drinks once to twice a week. I just love the Chai latte’s!

    In the UK, Starbucks is totally different and it all boils down to the US liability laws. We are so sue happy here in the States, it affects everything we do, so the blame is mostly on the American public’s mindset that they should be compensated for every little infraction. I am not against lawsuits for legitimate reasons but we do go overboard here.

    As one poster previously stated, they do screw up with the brownies and I never eat those but they offer prepackaged salads and yes! delicious wraps on bread that defies anything you can buy here in the States. All are prepackaged and I have never once been the tiniest bit sick from them. The wraps are Warburtons and they rock. Gf bread in the UK is far better than ours and NO HOLES! We live in the land of innovation and yet? Gf bread has a long way to go. : (

    Reply
    1. 21.1

      Jacquie

      Yes!! UK GF bread is amazing. Last time I went home I couldn’t believe how much better their GF pre-packaged foods were. They basically tasted the same as regular gluten laden foods. I rarely bother with US GF bread these days because it’s so bad. By the way, I’ve also not had a reaction to Starbucks coffee, so am surprised to hear people’s comments about none of them being safe. :( Thankfully, I rarely go to Starbucks.

      Reply
  22. 22

    John Moore

    Dude,
    Thanks for your try there!

    A few comments… First, as others have suggested, you simply did not get through to a thinking human. I do think you got through to a human, not a machine, but not someone who took the trouble to read your email. You might try other approaches – calling them or talking to a local manager, BUT…

    I suspect that they do not dare try to be GF, because they have gluten around and shared machinery. Getting all the baristas to do the right thing may be beyond their means. I don’t know why they have a GF list – that seems to contradict what I just said – that they cannot get the baristas to behave. Of course, I recently went to a Papa Murphy’s in Portland, OR of all places, and they sold me a GF pizza, but as I talked to them and watched the preparation, it was completely clear to me that they didn’t understand cross-contamination, unlike the one I normally frequent in Arizona.

    I recently went back to Starbucks after having avoided them for awhile. And, I got sick with after a Mocha Latte Lite. I cannot for certain say it was them, but the list of suspects is short. I suspect that cross contamination happens from time to time.

    So, I’m gonna avoid Starbucks. I hate to have to do so – I used to meet friends there for a coffee. Now we go to a food court where I know I am safe.

    I hope you or someone can get Starbucks to be helpful to the CD community, but it may just be asking too much of that kind of operation.

    Finally, it may be that individual Starbucks outfits are clueful and can help those with CD to avoid contamination – see my experience with Papa Murphy’s as an example of local variance.

    Regards and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  23. 23

    Greg

    E-mailing any major corporation always elicits a cold, terse, impersonal reply such as “we do not offer that at this time” and “we apologize for any inconvenience”. Just save yourself a couple bucks per cup and go somewhere else!

    Reply
  24. 24

    Andrea

    My issue with Starbucks is their lack of transparency regarding ingredients. I’ve been around the barn with them in the stores, via email and talking to a live person. None of those options has ever produced any clarity about ingredients or what is safe or not. I have taken my business elsewhere because of that. I can deal with the facts that products aren’t safe but the ambiguity and lack of disclosure is maddening. It was for lack of trying on my part and so I take my family and meet friends elsewhere until there is disclosure of ingredients, etc.

    Reply
  25. 25

    Louise

    I had an “iffy” reaction to a Pumpkin Spice latte in the Fall of 2015, and avoid all seasonal coffees now. I have always been fine with Cafe Mochas… even with the shaved chocolate that’s available seasonally (it’s supposed to be for the Peppermint coffees, but I have them shake it liberally over my Cafe Mochas!) I don’t eat or drink anything else at Starbucks.

    Reply
  26. 26

    Tatjana

    I’m gluten free AND dairy free… and even if they have something there, I don’t fully trust what it’s made from. It’s sad, but many times they take out the gluten and dairy and add a hundred other things — AND THEN they charge more!! It is very disappointing!!! I know for sure you can make gluten / dairy free food without all that crap.

    Reply
  27. 27

    John

    Speaking of GF at Starbucks, I was just reading this AP article (link below) from last week describing some of Starbucks’ business plans for the next few years. It’s not a focal point of the article but it mentions plans to introduce some GF breakfast sandwiches in 2017. Let’s hope they do it right and avoid the usual CC pitfalls.

    http://www.canadiangrocer.com/worth-reading/starbucks-looks-to-add-more-food-to-its-menu-69888

    Reply

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