Quick Answer: Coffee is gluten-free.
This huge quantity of consumption may create various suspicious ideas among people whether the drink is really good for us and safe for people with celiac disease.
Gluten has been a matter of debate for a while and people tend to look for alternative sources to inhibit the inflammation created by it. So does everyone’s favorite coffee has gluten?
In this article, I will be discussing whether the beverage is gluten-free and whether you can consume it or not if you have sensitivity to gluten.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products that give texture to different food items and works as a ‘glue’ to hold the shape of grains like wheat, barley, rye, farro, and semolina together.
Gluten is naturally occurring and is a complex mixture of hundreds of distinct proteins. The main proteins are gliadin and glutenin.
It is impossible to strip the gluten content from any grain and thus the food product can’t be made gluten-free later on.
Apart from food items, cosmetic products, supplements, binders may also contain gluten. Many times, gluten can be added to food items due to accidental cross-contact from other sources.
People who suffer from extreme sensitivity to gluten or have celiac disease must follow a meal diet that excludes all gluten sources.
Check out this video to know more about gluten!
Do coffee beans contain gluten?
No. Each and every coffee bean is gluten-free right from the beginning.
The main reason behind this might be that the biology of coffee beans is very dissimilar to the gluten-containing plants and their physiological and reproduction functions also do not correlate.
The plant from which coffee beans are extracted belongs to a branch of the plant kingdom known as Gentianales which are flowering plants. Grains that contain gluten like wheat, oats, corn, and barley belong to the botanical family Poaceae.
Coffee doesn’t require the protein molecules (gliadin and glutenin) present in gluten for germination since it germinates with the help of natural sugars.
Every variety of coffee be it black, instant or drip does not contain gluten. In fact, every bean and tea leaf is free of gluten. The processing and roasting method also keeps it gluten-free.
But the problem lies if you are buying flavored coffee from shops or adding creamers to the drink.
So, be sure to drink natural coffee to ensure it’s free of gluten!
What drinks are gluten-free?
Gluten is safe for most healthy people unless you are having conditions like celiac disease or sensitivity to caffeine.
Many foods and drinks contain gluten so you need to check the ingredient before purchasing.
Some of the drinks that do not have gluten are:
- beer (made from gluten-free grains)
- some energy drinks
- 100% fruit juice
As you can see, most of the widely consumed beverages do not have gluten. However, you should double-check beverages having added flavorings and mix-ins, distilled liquors, or pre-made smoothies to ensure it’s gluten-free.
Is coffee OK for celiac diseases?
According to Dr Stefano Guandalina from Celiac Disease Foundation, coffee is totally safe for people to consume.
Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can’t include gluten or gluten-based food as it might cause damage to their small intestine.
People with celiac diseases have to maintain a strict gluten-free diet to avoid future inflammation in the stomach.
There is no scientific evidence to show that the protein present in coffee has any cross-reaction to gluten. Moreover, coffee beans are gluten-free. So it won’t affect your health if you have celiac disease.
Additives such as flavorings and creamers may not bear similar health features so try to skip them while having the beverage.
If you are grinding and brewing the drink all by yourself then there is no chance of getting the gluten elements into your drink.
However, if the grinding is taking place at a coffee house, there is a chance of cross-contact and your coffee may not be gluten-free even if you didn’t order any flavored ones.
That said, it’s safer to make your own coffee at home!
Is all ground coffee gluten-free?
In many reviews found on the internet, it is claimed that coffee consumption is associated with cross-reactivity with gluten in celiac patients.
The protein that is mainly responsible for this is gliadin. This one assumption led to several expert reviews claiming that coffee can’t be part of your gluten-free diet.
Sadly that’s not the whole truth.
Reports from Dr. Ruscio Blog confirm that any variety of coffee, whether it is instant or grounded, or decaf, contains zero gluten.
So yes, your favorite bean is emphatically gluten-free so relax and enjoy your drink.
Even if coffee grounds are gluten-free, it is the caffeine that can overstimulate the glands and harm the person already suffering from adrenal insufficiency or celiac disease. Also, it can allow the symptoms to exist for a longer period.
So, you need to choose your coffee wisely if you are on a strict gluten-free diet.
Is coffee safe on a gluten-free diet?
Since coffee is gluten-free it is considered to be safe on a gluten-free diet.
However, there is a troubling aspect of coffee and that is the presence of the stimulant, caffeine. As you would already know, caffeine is a common gastric irritant and may result in acid reflux in people.
Too much caffeine might contribute to mucosal degradation in the stomach and overstimulate the adrenal glands. The overstimulation of certain organ systems may lead to gluten-like inflammatory damage.
In a study named Food and Nutritional Sciences, experts have shared concerns regarding the processing methods of coffee beans. This processing method may involve the addition of gluten substances unknowingly.
While more research and pieces of evidence are needed to claim that the coffee grounds contain gluten, it is believed that while the processing method takes place, the proteins in the beans are altered in such a way that the body perceives them with the same inflammatory responses as gluten.
Also, caffeine tends to trigger the central nervous system that might irritate you easily, and keep you restless. As a result, your overall health might be affected if you are trying to be in peace with a healthier diet.
In short, coffee won’t cause you harmful diseases or integrate your stomach issues, but the caffeine may restrain the quick recovery process.
In that sense, it is advised to give time for a proper recovery process and adjust your caffeine intake accordingly.
Is flavored coffee gluten-free?
To be on the safe side, it is safe to assume flavored coffee is not gluten-free.
Flavored coffees advertise themselves as serving you with ‘natural flavors’ and this might hide the truth about the gluten substances present in the drink.
The varieties such as French vanilla, toffee crunch, and hazelnut chocolate sound so appetizing that you often forget to check the contents they carry in the name of flavors.
Many of the coffee beans or grounds contain this pre-flavored substance and they are often labeled as ‘gluten-free’. But trust me, they aren’t.
A report from Very Well Health confirms that most of these flavors are barley-based flavorings and the natural flavors that they talk about can be derived from gluten grains.
Also, many flavorings may contain an alcohol base. People who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac diseases may experience reactions after consuming the beverage.
So, look for the ingredients in the flavors and choose wisely to avoid the after reactions. If you are fine without any flavors, then hey that’s awesome!
What foods contain gluten?
Many of us tend to associate the term ‘gluten’ with grain-based food items only but gluten can be present in a variety of other food substances.
Here’s a list of foods that usually contain gluten :
- bread and bagels
- cakes and Pies
- flavoring and syrup
- vegatarian meat substitute
- semolina and wheat bran
In addition, most of the snacks or foods found in restaurants may contain gluten. So check for the gluten content before ordering anything.
Some foods that may have gluten are:
- French fries
- sauces and salad dressings
- processed meats
- potato chips
- chocolate bars
- soy sauce
Drinks like beer, lagers, malt beverages, and dessert wine contain gluten as well. Among non-food items, medicines and supplements, make-up products and communion wafers may contain gluten too.
To enjoy a gluten-free meal, you may opt for the following alternatives that do not have gluten content and still provide nutrients:
- buckwheat or rice instaed of grain or flour
- potato flour
- soy flour
- gluten-free pasta
- chickpea flour
- gluten-free bread and desserts
- pasta made from lentils, peas, corns or rice
- cauliflower as a pizza base
How to know if coffee is a problem for you?
Specifically speaking, the caffeine present in the coffee might be a problem for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Caffeine can easily irritate and inflame the gastrointestinal glands and lead to irregular heartbeat and cramping.
If you are on a gluten-free diet for some reason, regulate your caffeine consumption and watch for any adverse effects like diarrhea or abdominal pain.
People are not always aware of their autoimmune issues and gluten may trigger an inflammatory response in their bodies all of a sudden.
That is why you need to pay attention to the effects of coffee on your body. If you do not feel anything different then you can consume a moderate amount. Do not forget to talk with your medical advisor in this regard.
However, the protein present in coffee is one of the most common cross-reactor for gluten and may harm people who are sensitive to it. So, if you are sensitive to it in any form, try to skip the beverage and give time to your body to recover.
There are several gluten-free alternatives that can serve as your go-to source. Check them out in your nearby stores and choose the best one for you.
Some Gluten-free Alternatives and Substitutes For You
It might be great news for you if you are looking for gluten-free alternatives to refresh your day. However, the substitutes are not always gluten-free so check the label and ingredients before buying.
Here are some of the best gluten-free coffee alternatives and substitutes you should try:
- roasted chicory root
- date seed coffee
- roasted fig coffee
- green tea
- Yerba mate
Plain and traditionally brewed coffee is generally considered gluten-free.
The problem lies in whether there is any incident of cross-reactivity between the beans and other gluten sources.
There are many potential cross-reactors in your kitchen since many of the grains containing gluten are used to prepare the common dishes consumed in households.
While preparing meals for a person with celiac disease, try to avoid sources that might contain gluten. Also, use separate utensils and dishes for the preparation of the meal.
The pre-flavored coffee grounds found in shops may sound yummy but not always they are gluten-free. The natural flavors that are added to the grounds may have a grain base.
However, many of the coffee flavors do not carry a gluten base; make sure to check the label while buying the product.
Coffee might not be the problem in many cases, but caffeine might be. To avoid gastrointestinal influx and adrenal insufficiency make sure to seek advice from a health care provider if any of the symptoms persist for a while.
Lastly, coffee is gluten-free so you can enjoy your drink without any worry. Just exercise caution to avoid any cross-reaction and keep the intake consumption moderate.