Celiac Disease / Gluten Free Restaurants / Uncategorized

Why Starbucks Can Suck It

Delicious Yet Deadly

I’ll admit it. I was on a holiday high last weekend. My adorable family of four was all together. We were going to movies, we were eating tons of good food, we were rolling about on our shag carpet, and just enjoying checking out. Yeah, that’s what we do.

So I was feeling cocky. I blew into Starbucks and ordered up a Gingerbread Latte. Big mistake.

I will say this. I did a perfunctory check with the barista. “Umm, do you have the nutritional information? Or a list of the allergens in this drink?” The banged cuteness responded as weakly as I did, “Ummm, no. I don’t think so.” At that point I knew I was taking my health into my own hands. But damn, I wanted some gingerbread. It’s mother scratching Christmas, you guys. And I wanted some gingerbread up in here.

So I took that calorie-laden bucket of goodness home and started to drink it. But first, I thought I’d check online. As if.

The Starbucks website has gone all cuckoo and is cheesy animation and no information. In fact, if you look for the nutritional information on their drinks, this is what you get. I do believe the technical term for that information is “Jack Shit.” And the reason I’m so peeved is that only a few months ago you could go to Starbucks dot com and learn all about what was okay for a celiac and what was the devil. But no more. They say there is no allergen information online. Let’s forget that it’s not that I’m allergic, it’s that it will make me effing sick. Same difference, maybe, but still it’s not like I’m just going to get a case of the sniffles post ingestion. But you know what? If you take your information off your website, you’d better train your employees to know what the hell is going on in that latte.

I know, I know. I should know better. If you don’t know what’s in something, you should not put it in your mouth. Which, by the way, is good advice in many other situations. I also know that trusting corporations with my health is not even close to being a good idea. But still, it would just be nice to offer up a little bit of convenience with your fattening coffee drinks.

To make it even more confusing, I just got like a little bit sick. So is the Gingerbread Latte gluten-filled? Or was there just some cross-contamination happening? Or was I just finally paying for my massive overindulgence of my gluten-free Thanksgiving? Only Starbucks knows, and that mermaid is not talking.

So what gives Starbucks? Why so Scrooge-y?

29 thoughts on “Why Starbucks Can Suck It

  1. I actually emailed them last week and got the following response, which is mostly totally unhelpful, because they won’t commit to anything and some of the ingredients are really ambiguous:

    Dear Alex,
    Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.
    I hope you understand, but I do not have a list of gluten free products. What I can do is give you the ingredients of the syrups that go into the drinks you requested information on.

    Caramel Syrup: Sugar, Water, Natural and Artifical Flavour, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate (E202), Citric Acid (E330), Colour: Caramel (E150d)

    Gingerbread Syrup: Sugar, Water, Natural and Artificial Flavours, Preservative: Sodium Benzoate (E211), Citric Acid (E330), Coulour: Caramel (E150C)

    Peppermint Syrup: Sugar, Water, Natural Flavours, Perservative: Sodium Benzoate (E211), Citric Acid (E330)

    Pumpkin Spice Syrup (SKU #183678): Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk, Annatto (E160b, Colour), Natural and Artificial Flavours, Caramel Colour (E150D), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (E202, a preservative).


    If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.
    Warm Regards, Alyx MCustomer RelationsStarbucks Coffee Company800 STARBUC (782-7282)
    Monday through Friday, 5AM to 8PM (PST

  2. So basically they’re avoiding saying anything as not to be held liable if someone gets gluten’d. Or nut’ed. Or whatever the heck else is in there. Damn Starbucks! Why do I have to love it so much???

    Way to try and get some answers, Alex.

  3. What is UP with companies these days, jeesh!

    I just ran into this with another company, too! Last year, they had online information about a wheat product on the same line as their other products. This year, that information is gone. Not only is the information gone, if you contact them, they will not give you information about what equipment lines are shared with what. I have allergies and gluten issues both, so this type of thing completely screws me.

    It’s frustrating when a company won’t bother to collect allergen information on their own product. But it’s beyond that when they eliminate information that was previously available, making it even harder for their customers to stay safe. 😦

  4. I called Starbucks several years ago and spoke with an actual human being who was quite helpful. He told me that while nothing they serve is “gluten-free” (and he used verbal quote marks on that) the only drinks that have glutinous ingredients are the eggnog latte and the java chip stuff. I have been drinking mass quantities of gingerbread latte my entire adult life and never been poisoned. Sometimes my stomach does rebel against it, but mostly because of the combination of too much acid, too much sugar, and too much dairy.

    • It’s definitely possible all of that pie and stuffing in my system had more to do with me not feeling so hot. I’m mostly just irked because they used to have a chart on their website, and now they don’t. It feels sneaky.

      But I am glad to know the gingerbread latte could be gf, potentially. I’ll just have to try again, as I am a glutton for punishment. And gingerbread.

  5. Wow I hadn’t realized that they had become so difficult. My husband recently was presented with the same dilemma of not knowing about the gingerbread latte (of which the best I knew was that there were no physical pieces of bread in it, but we all know gluten contamination goes way beyond that) and decided not to risk it. But looking at that ingredient list by Alex, wow. Who needs caramel coloring in a drink no one ever actually looks at anyways? Seriously does anyone ever open up the lid and go sifting through their coffee to look at the color? It’s not like they are served iced in clear cups…Also I think caramel color is an iffy one on whether or not there may be gluten in it…some can be made with malt (barley) I think…

  6. I like the drink, but don’t like the excessive corn syrup and came up with this recipe that is completely GF, http://wp.me/p1YlyJ-1S
    I’m guessing you don’t have a dairy allergy? I know that steaming almond milk (in my experience) doesn’t work well.

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  9. Gingerbread Latte=NOT gluten free. Left work early because I was feeling so festive and happy this morning that I thought I would upgrade my morning latte to a fancy high calorie version. Now, I’m feeling less festive. Sadly, it’s taken twice to make the connection, and it is not even December.

    Love your blog.

      • my husband just brought me a grande decaf gingerbread latte an hour and a half ago. I started feeling ‘bad’ shortly thereafter and have officially been glutened. we have a completely g-f home, so it couldn’t have been anything else. *sticking with pumpkin spice and peppermint from now on…

  10. Awesome. Again!

    Being lactose intolerant as well as coeliac I drink soy. It took me about a hundred Starbucks Strawberry and Cream Frappuchinos to learn that their soy milk is sweetend with Barley Malt (in australia). And the pieces of the tummy puzzle came together.

  11. I work at Starbucks as a barista and I also have celiac’s…just a heads up…anything with caramel coloring in it….you can’t have. So no go on the gingerbread…sorry you had to find out the hard way. Also, you can’t have the whip cream at Starbucks because we put vanilla in our whip cream and that has caramel coloring in it. Just thought if help a little.

  12. Starbucks just came out with gluten-free rice crispy treat that are wrapped in plastic so there won’t be much cross contamination. So of coarse at MY Starbucks what do they do?!? They take them out of the wrapper!! I even tried to explain to them why they can’t do that and they just looked at me confused… smh…

  13. if you’re ever around a Costa, they’re in Ire and the UK but I’m not sure where else, their gingerbread latte is gf 🙂 theres a full list online

  14. So, I’m pretty sure most, if not all, flavored products that say “cookie”,”bread”,”cake”, or any other glutenous substance usually has gluten in it. I have heard/read a lot of the syrups at Starbucks do not contain gluten ingredients. So I just make it a rule not to eat that other stuff.

  15. It is my understanding that the vanilla syrup in the whipped cream does contain gluten. So, you can order a mocha without whipped cream and be fine. Be careful though, they put vanilla syrup in the hot chocolate, so that may be a problem. I’m extremely sensitive to gluten, so I feel like a canary in a coal mine, much of the time. I’ve taken the situation into my own hands today, and am currently drinking brewed coffee with warmed-up (gf) eggnog and nutmeg on top. This will do for today. 🙂

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