Coffee And Gluten Free - A Clash Or A Healthy Companion?

12 min read JAN 05, 2024

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” - Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps you’ve seen the above “quote” floating around on social media at some point, and like me, got a quiet chuckle out of it.

Obviously, the internet can be a vast resource for an unlimited wealth of information. However, whether researching or casually reading, we must exercise caution as some headlines and content can be misleading, even causing us to make unnecessary (and sometimes unwise) decisions regarding our health.

For instance, there’s a rumor, based on a headline and a few items taken out of context from a scientific review, that coffee is not gluten free.

Unfortunately, this is incredibly troubling news for those with gluten allergies and sensitivities.

And thankfully, the key words in that sentence are “taken out of context.” (Spoiler alert - Lifeboost coffee is gluten free.)

But, as most of you know, gluten intolerances and allergies can be severe, even life-threatening, so such claims are truly serious.

That’s why we’d like to examine the connection, or lack thereof, between coffee and gluten more closely today, answering the following questions:

- Is coffee truly gluten free?

- Are common coffee additives (such as cream, sugar, and more) gluten free?

- What led some to believe this beloved bean could be a cause for concern, a clash for those adhering to a gluten-free diet or lifestyle?

Gluten Allergies And Intolerances

Before we examine any potential connection between coffee and gluten allergies and intolerances, let’s first cover the basics.

What is gluten?

Gluten essentially is the name given to the proteins found in wheat (a variety of wheats, really), rye, barley, and triticale, which is a cross between rye and wheat.

These proteins are what give certain foods their shape, basically acting like a glue which holds these foods together.

Of course, most of us commonly think of breads and other baked goods when it comes to gluten-containing foods. But, while these foods certainly contain these proteins, you might be surprised to learn that gluten is commonly found in a very wide range of products, including:

  • some soups
  • most pastas
  • some sauces
  • most cereals
  • rouxs
  • some salad dressings
  • beer
  • brewer’s yeast
  • malt products (such as malt vinegar, malted milk, malt syrups, etc)
  • most food colorings

Gluten can even be present in non-food items such as Play-doh, some bath products, and cosmetics.

People develop allergies and intolerances to gluten, similar to other food or environmental allergies, when the immune system essentially overreacts to, what should be, something natural.

In a gluten allergy, the body views these natural foods, here wheat, barley, or rye, as an enemy, thus initiating a harsh response.

Such a response can cause someone with a gluten allergy to experience a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • skin rashes or hives
  • a runny (or stuffy) nose
  • sneezing
  • headaches
  • digestive distress (including diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, indigestion, stomach cramps)
  • asthma
  • anaphylaxis (impaired breathing, potential shock, can be life-threatening)

If you have family members with allergies or other allergic diseases (such as eczema or asthma), it is believed that you are at a greater risk of developing food allergies, including wheat or gluten.

Unfortunately, when it comes to gluten, there are many concerns beyond allergies, and these are commonly referred to as GRDs, or gluten-related disorders.

Celiac disease is considered to be the most severe gluten-related disorder, a serious autoimmune disease which attacks the small intestine in response to gluten.

When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging the villi which line this organ.

The villi are responsible for proper nutrient absorption in digestion, so such attacks can hinder the body’s ability to receive and use needed nutrition.

Some common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • fatigue
  • chronic pain, often times including severe joint and muscle pain
  • inflammation
  • depression and anxiety
  • frequent diarrhea and/or constipation
  • skin disorders (including psoriasis, alopecia, and recurrent hives)
  • iron deficiencies
  • unexplained weight loss (common in undiagnosed celiac disease)
  • arm/leg numbness

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects a large number of people as well.

And, in the case of non-celiac gluten sensitivities, folks may test negative for celiac disease, but their symptoms, when consuming gluten, are often similar.

Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivities still experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain when consuming gluten.

And, painful headaches, specifically migraines, are also common amongst those with gluten sensitivities.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms also include depression, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, and widespread pain due to inflammation.

The differences between gluten disorders have been summed up in the following way:

Wheat allergy - Your immune system overreacts to wheat or the proteins found in wheat, such as gluten, and this initiates a range of negative responses, some of which may be life-threatening.

Celiac Disease - This is an autoimmune disease whereby the consumption of gluten (or sometimes any contact with gluten) triggers a negative response by the body. Specifically when those with celiac disease consume gluten, the small intestine is attacked and damaged, hindering nutrient absorption, and causing a range of harmful health outcomes.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity - Individuals with such a sensitivity or intolerance may test negative for celiac disease, but their bodies still react badly to gluten.

So then, what does all this mean for coffee lovers?

If you have a wheat allergy, celiac disease, or any other sensitivity to gluten, can you still drink coffee?

Is Coffee Gluten Free?

Since 2017, after one particular scientific review was published, coffee has become suspicious to those with gluten-related allergies and disorders.

The reason?

One statement within the mere abstract of this review was isolated, and thus drew a grand amount of attention from health professionals and coffee lovers.

The statement in question: “coffee consumption was associated with cross-reactivity with gliadin antibodies in celiac patients.”

The problem here is when interpreting such reviews, you simply can’t pull out a single statement to arrive at such a conclusion.

When examining the entire review, the full text of the research paper, you would find that the authors pulled from multiple studies, then compiled a great amount of information regarding coffee and the immune system.

Within this information, there was only one study conducted to test coffee for cross-reactivity with gluten.

In this study, cross-reactivity was only found in two instant coffee preparations.

Even better (for coffee lovers with gluten disorders), “all other coffees were not cross reactive at all.”

In other words, yes, coffee is gluten-free!

So then, why is it that coffee can sometimes cause some distressing symptoms?

Generally, these symptoms arise due to a variety of reasons, most stemming from the type of coffee being consumed and how those beans are grown and processed.

As far as Lifeboost Coffee is concerned, here’s how we combat these potential outcomes and bring you all the health benefits of coffee without the negative outcomes:

- Lifeboost Coffee beans are specialty, single origin, low acid, Arabica coffee beans, sustainably grown and hand selected.

- All Lifeboost Coffee is grown without the use of harsh chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.

- All Lifeboost Coffee is grown amongst native plant and animal life which enrich the soil, naturally deter pests, provide shade from the sun, and protect the coffee shrubs.

- Lifeboost Coffee is also grown at high altitudes where our coffee cherries slowly mature, allowing time for greater nutrient absorption, resulting in a sweeter, more dense fruit.

- All of our coffee is spring water washed, meticulously processed, and then third party tested for more than 450 chemicals, heavy metals, as well as molds and other toxins.

- Even our flavored selections are made without the use of propylene glycol, aka airplane antifreeze. Instead, our flavored coffees are made using natural baking extracts and essential oils for both optimal flavor and best health benefits.

And, many of you, our amazing customers, have confirmed, these healthy measures produce not only the best tasting cup of coffee but also a noticeable lack of stomach issues and jitters, resulting in improved health, and much more!

When organic, specialty, single origin coffee is sustainably grown without the use of harsh chemicals, and when these pristine beans lack the molds, heavy metals, and other toxins commonly present in mass produced java, you can not only enjoy the unparalleled flavor of such coffee but the many health benefits of this beloved bean as well.

Coffee has been proven to:

  • reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • aid in healthy weight management
  • reduce one’s overall risk of death, specifically increasing longevity
  • reduce the risk of stroke
  • improve heart health, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • reduce the risk of many cancers in both men and women
  • improve liver health
  • strengthen DNA, decreasing strand breakage
  • reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • improve physical stamina and athletic performance

Even better, take a look at these common health benefits associated with coffee which also happen to adversely be typical health concerns for those suffering from gluten allergies, disorders, and sensitivities.

- Those suffering from gluten-related disorders commonly experience joint and muscle pain due to inflammation. The antioxidant content of coffee has been shown to reduce inflammation.

- Brain fog is commonly associated with gluten sensitivities, and coffee has been shown to have positive effects on brain function, memory, and concentration.

- Depression and anxiety are also common symptoms of gluten intolerance, and coffee’s brain boosting effects have been linked to reductions in symptoms related to both of these (depression and anxiety).

- The caffeine in coffee is a great source of antioxidants as well as a known energy booster, which can help to combat the symptoms of fatigue, common in those with gluten-related disorders.

So then, just choose healthy, low acid, Lifeboost coffee and you’re good to go, right?

Well…not necessarily.

If you’re drinking your Lifeboost coffee black, you truly are good to go, but what if you prefer to savor each sip of your brew with a few additions?

Some common coffee additions can actually cause trouble for those with gluten allergies, disorders, and intolerances, so before we close out today, let’s get to work preparing the perfect, gluten-free cup!

Preparing The Perfect, Gluten Free, Cup Of Coffee

To prepare the perfect, gluten free cup of coffee, first we must start with clean, healthy, pure coffee beans.

Overall it’s considered best to use whole bean coffee, and be sure to grind those beans at home to avoid cross contamination.

How can cross contamination occur?

Well, some grocery store locations and other coffee retailers or cafes offer the use of their grinders for customers, and these are used on a variety of beans. If you use these, you run the risk of contamination from lower quality beans, even those which may have come in contact with products containing gluten.

So then, once you’ve ground your beans at home, measured your filtered water, chosen your preferred brewing method, and filled your cup with freshly brewed (or brewed and chilled coffee or cold brew for iced coffee fans), what should you avoid putting in your cup if you need to steer clear of gluten?

First, let’s preface this by saying, this is a broad list.

There may be some brands within these products that offer gluten free selections, however, for those suffering from gluten-related disorders, you likely know that you do need to be selective, even picky when it comes to what you consume.

So, as a general guide, to avoid gluten, it’s important to know the following:

- Many flavored coffee syrups and sauces have the potential to contain gluten.

- Some coffee creamers contain thickeners and flavorings which contain gluten.

- Dairy milk is considered gluten free, however, milks which contain added flavors cannot be considered safe for those avoiding gluten.

- Flavored non-dairy milks may contain gluten as well.

- Oat milk is generally considered ‘not safe’ for those with gluten sensitivities due to the possibility of cross contamination during processing.

- Common toppings such as candies, flavored crumbles, or pieces used to grace your whipped cream topped coffee could contain gluten.

So then, if you must avoid these items, what can you add to your cup of joe?

If you prefer a touch of sweetness in your brew, the following sweeteners are all gluten free:

  • Organic cane sugar
  • Raw honey, local is best
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit

If you prefer a little milk or cream in your coffee, the following options are considered gluten free:

- Most dairy milk is considered gluten free, just remember to watch out for additives. Organic, grass-fed, even farm fresh, milk is your best choice here.

- Organic, plain heavy whipping cream is also gluten free.

- Nut milks, such as almond and coconut, as long as they aren’t flavored, may be safe for those with gluten-related disorders. Just remember to check the label thoroughly to avoid detrimental additives. (You can also make your own nut milk from raw nuts at home to ensure it’s perfectly safe for consumption.)

- Homemade whipped cream, made from heavy whipping cream, is a gluten free coffee topping option.

If you prefer to add a little bit of spice or flavoring to your brew, consider the following:

- Fresh herbs and spices are gluten free, including pure vanilla extract, and most ground spices are gluten free as well. However, exercise caution when selecting these for use in your coffee (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) as cross contamination may occur during processing.

As a general rule of thumb, when preparing your perfect, gluten-free cup of coffee, follow the above advice for avoiding or including these common coffee additives, but ultimately, read those labels.

And, when in doubt, use caution (especially when you’re uncertain of processing practices), erring on the safe side with pure, gluten free choices such as raw, local honey, organic heavy cream, homemade vanilla extract, or another selection from the list above.

*As always, if you are under the supervision of a medical professional for gluten-related allergies or disorders, follow those specific guidelines when it comes to consuming any foods or beverages.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Dark Roast.

Medical Disclaimer
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Headshot of Becky Livingston Vance
Becky Livingston Vance Content writer

Becky is a mother, educator, and content writer for Lifeboost Coffee. She has had three years’ experience as a writer, and in that time she has enjoyed creatively composing articles and ebooks covering the topics of coffee, health and fitness, education, recipes, and relationships.


Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published


Thank you so much for your detailed comments on gluten. I truly appreciate your input. Your enthusiasm and fervent belief in your delicious and healthful product comes through!
I have noticed a few competitors for low-acid organic coffee and they are not as convincing, but they do charge less. Sounds difficult to do that given the logistics of providing quality. Any comments?
Thank you.

Sue Andrews

Fabulous article and espresso from a company that has integrity!!!!!! I am so very grateful for all the work you do in bringing health and wellness to us and for bringing the dance of flavours to my tongue!!!!!!! I am sipping on my espresso right now as I read your article and I put it with raw cocoa powder and coconut milk….uhmmmmmmmmmm! Thank You and God Bless! Sue :}