Updated: Jul 4
With coffee being the most popular beverage enjoyed around the world the question of "does coffee contain gluten" comes up often. For people living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it can be challenging to know what foods and drinks are safe to consume.
The answer is yes; coffee is generally safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to consume. Coffee beans themselves are gluten-free, and coffee does not contain wheat, barley, or rye, which are the grains that contain gluten. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind.
When it comes to flavored coffees, it's important to be aware that some may contain gluten. This is often due to the use of syrups or flavorings that contain gluten-containing ingredients. To ensure that your coffee is gluten-free, it's essential to check the ingredients list carefully and make sure that any flavorings used are gluten-free.
Second, cross-contamination can be a concern. If coffee is brewed in a shared facility or with equipment that is also used to prepare gluten-containing foods/drinks, there is a risk of cross-contamination. It is always a good idea to ensure that coffee is prepared in a gluten-free environment or on equipment that has been wiped down. It's important to be aware that certain dairy alternatives may contain gluten. This means that if the same equipment is used to steam these "milks", contamination can occur.
A recent study published in the January issue of Nutrients Journal examined the effects of coffee consumption on the different stages of the gastrointestinal tract. Results showed that drinking coffee has a clear impact on various aspects of digestion. Specifically, coffee stimulates gastric acid secretion, biliary and pancreatic secretion, reduces gallstone risk, stimulates colic motility, and changes the composition of gut microbiota... for the better.*
For those with celiac disease, coffee can sometimes lead to digestive discomfort, even if it is gluten-free. This is because coffee stimulates the production of stomach acid, which can cause unpleasant symptoms; often similar to that of a gluten contamination. This is why many people with celiac disease question if coffee is in fact gluten free. If you experience digestive issues after drinking coffee, it may be best to limit your intake or avoid it altogether.
In conclusion, people with celiac disease can drink coffee as long as it is gluten-free and prepared in a gluten-free environment. It is important to check the ingredient list for flavored coffees and be mindful of the risk of cross-contamination. If you experience digestive symptoms after drinking coffee, you may want to limit your intake or avoid it altogether.
* Nehlig A. Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 17;14(2):399. doi: 10.3390/nu14020399. PMID: 35057580; PMCID: PMC8778943.