Is K Cup Coffee Always Gluten Free?

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Do K-Cups Fall Victim to Gluten Contamination?

It's no question that people who suffer from Celiac disease need to go over labels with a fine toothed comb. We've been searching through boxes for ingredient lists from some of the major brands out on the market, as well as scouring the internet for additional information, and here are our findings:  yes, certain K-Cups can contain gluten ingredients.

The brands in this post are both brands that we know are either gluten free and those that are not. This information has been gathered from a multitude of sources: in-person reading over labels for a wide variety of packaging, retrieved from the company's website, or have answered by our email requests for information. Those sites that do not explicitly list gluten free on their labeling require a little extra research before jumping into a cup and knowing for certain. However, because companies are constantly updating their products, we highly recommend that you do your own research before diving into any of these products.

Gluten Free and Proud of It

Crazy Cups

They are proud to let consumers know all of their K Cups are not only gluten free, but also lactose free, vegan, kosher, and pareve.

While we only pay specific attention to gluten free listings, it's always nice to see this allergen and dietary information provided up front and honestly. We don't need to investigate if the product will fit into our dietary needs because they let us know from the beginning, and we appreciate that as it makes our shopping experience much more enjoyable as a whole.

Cross Country Cafe

This is a brand we have not tried yet, but this company also exemplifies the willingness to showcase gluten-free K-cups. We discovered them while writing up this blog post and just gave ourselves yet another brand and set of flavors to test and share.


Seems Clear, but Keep Your Guard Up

Green Mountain

Generally speaking, all of the regular coffees from Green Mountain and all of its brands are gluten free. When you start getting fancy with some of their flavored K-Cup offerings from their secondary brands you'll begin running into possible gluten ingredients. Double-checking each on keurig.com will help you determine, as the gluten free options explicitly state this fact on the product page, while the others do not.

As such, their Café Escapes French Vanilla Café-au-Lait K-Cup and Timothy's Lemon Blueberry Tea K-Cups are both known to contain trace amounts of wheat and malted oats, respectively, which do have the gluten protein. 

Green Mountain's other brands are: Laughing Man, Donut Shop, Barita Prima, CoffeePeople, Diedrich Coffee, Donut House, revv, Timothy's, Tully's, Van Houtte, and Vitamin Burst. Keep an eye on the flavored cups, but generally speaking even the flavored cups we have come across like Van Houtte Apple Caramel Pie have been gluten free. It's a rare occurence to find a gluten-containing pod, but it's not out of the realm of possibility, so be aware.

Starbucks

Starbucks does not list that they are explicitly gluten-free, nor do they want to confirm or deny this when asked. However, while searching around online and reviewing the couple of boxes around our house, did not see anything alarming on regular coffee K-cups. Just like with other non-flavored types of pods, you are in the clear for regular coffee (Light / Medium / Dark). Knowing how your body reacts to specific artificial sweeteners or the natural flavorings might be the only concern when looking into flavored cups. They just don't make it clear one way or the other, so proceed with caution.

Foldgers

The classic coffee company makes some regular K-Cups that are definitely gluten free. However when they have flavored cups such as "Sugar Cookie" it makes me wary. I haven't gotten close up with that specific box, but they also do not list if the blend is gluten free on their website, so just be mindful and check before drinking. Reading the box yourself and assessing the contents is always going to be the best course of action for the flavored varieties, especially with them not listing this on their site.


Celiacs Beware

GEVALIA

While their coffee packs are unique and look intriguing with their 'Frothing' packs, they are NOT Celiac-friendly. Per this GEVALIA email response to celiac-disease.com's inquiry, none of their products are gluten free and should be avoided if your diet restricts gluten. 

We have gifted a box of the Mocha Latte pods to a family member, and have been told they make a wonderful cup of coffee, but unfortunately we will not be able to test these ever because we do not want to contaminate our Keurig. We read the box while with our family, and saw a handful of ingredients such as maltodextrin and dried creamers that are general red-flags for any gluten-free observer.

General Recommendations

K-Cups are a fantastic way to get coffee brewed nicely at home, but the individual cups are not labeled with ingredients. There may be some awesome variety packs of K-Cup pods that you can find online, but unless you're getting them from a known gluten-free facility or brand, I recommend sticking to buying originally boxed product so you can check into things properly. The variety packs usually come with the pods loosely packed into a larger cardboard box, and this makes it considerably more difficult to narrow down the ingredients list.

There are so many players in the pod making business that it's hard to review them all and track down their gluten-free stances, but a general rule-of-thumb to follow is this:

  • If in doubt, and it's not labeled, stick to non-flavored k-cups

Ingredients to Watch For

Regarding some eye-catching ingredients, while looking around, be mindful of maltodextrin. This is not a gluten containing product in the US when listed solo, usually derived from corn or potato starch, but if it was indeed derived from wheat it must be listed as such by law such as: "maltodextrin(wheat)". So keep an eye on this ingredient, as well as cups that contain 'dried' things. Sometimes the dried creamers and such can have wheat containing agents and you should inquire with the company directly or dig deeper online to find out more information before drinking.

If you are ever questioning whether a K-Cup is gluten free or not, find the 'Contact Us' page of the company's website and reach out to them about it. More often than not we find companies are very willing to share this information if they've got it readily available, and that extra level of service is nice when you encounter it.

Brewers that many people use, such as an in an office, should be used with caution. If possible, request people only use the gluten free cups the office supplies instead of bringing in their own pods. This is because if someone uses a gluten containing k-cup you might be at risk for slight contamination during the next few cups.

And as a final note to everyone, know how your body reacts to some of the additional ingredients that get thrown into the flavored variety of k-cups. There are many flavored k-cups that include a variety of artificial sweeteners, and those can also cause a little bit of indigestion in someone, regardless of Celiac status or not.

Hopefully this post can help some gluten-free CaffeinatedLifestyle denizens rest easy when on the hunt to new coffee pods. If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

Speaking of rest easy... Look at this little guy!

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