Gluten Free Festive Drinks 2021: Coffee Shop Guide (dairy free too)

10th November 2020
Blog post

My Gluten Free Festive Drinks Guide was born last year. I was stood in Costa, wanting to participate in the festive hot chocolate drinking…. black forest, gingerbread, irish velvet. Yum!! But to be completely honest, I couldn’t be bothered to ask for the allergen book so I just went for my usual.

THAT SHOULDN’T BE THE CASE!! We should be able to have the festive drinks without a fuss. Hopefully my guide will help!!

NB: I have written where my info has come from in each of the sections so you can check it for yourself too. As always, please make sure the barrista is aware you’re coeliac and keep an eye on what they’re up to whilst they make your drink as everyone makes mistakes – especially in a busy coffee shop at Christmas!


What Festive Drinks are gluten free at Costa? And dairy free?

Please note, Costas hot chocolate powder & cappuccino dusting both state “may contain” milk in their allergen guide.

Where’s my information from?

  1. They’ve got a great, easy guide here where you can easily see if the drinks are gluten free
  2. That said, it only spits out the info for the complete drink e.g. Terrys Choc Orange Hot Chocolate says its not gluten free. That’s because it includes a Terrys Choc Orange segment which is a may contain. The drink itself fine! How do I know that? Here’s their allergen guide. At the end of the guide, there is a “Drinks Extras” and a “Ingredients” sections. Based on the description of the Costa drinks here, you can work out what the components of each drink are and therefore work out if there’s bits you can leave out to make it gluten free.
Costa Christmas 2021 menu unveiled featuring Quality Street Latte


What Festive Drinks are gluten free at Starbucks? And dairy free?

Where’s my information from?

Its all listed in their 2021 Festive Allergen Guide. Starbucks break their ingredients list down into each component of the drink so its easy to see how to make adaptations to make your drink gluten free.

Remember, Starbucks uses a gluten-containing oat milk. See the “Oat Milk Debate” below for more info on what that means.

Cozy on in with Starbucks holiday beverages and festive food


Do you want me to add Pret or any others to the guide? If so, let me know!!

The Oat Milk Debate

Many coffee shops, including Starbucks, use a gluten-containing oat milk and therefore there is a risk of cross-contamination from the steamer, jugs, wipes, etc.

The debate lies around how big that risk is. Could the level of gluten be over 20 parts per million and therefore making them unsafe for coeliacs?

Lots of people handle this situation differently and at the end of the day its a totally personal choice but I thought I’d share (1) Coeliac UKs thoughts and (2) how I approach the issue:

(1) Coeliac UK:

“As we do not know the level of cleaning between each drink being made and therefore the levels of gluten due to the chance of cross contamination of gluten, we cannot advise that the product will be 20ppm or less of gluten and therefore suitable for a gluten free diet.

We would advise customers to speak with a trained barista regarding possible cross contamination and also to be aware of the possible risk if making a purchase.”

(2) How I approach the issue:

  • I only go into stores that are relatively quiet so they barrista has time to talk to me and isn’t pressured by the queue!
  • I know my drink order before I get there, i.e. I’ve already checked online that the drink I’m about to ask for is gluten free. Asking for the allergen folder makes it even more stressful!!
  • I explain the issue: “I have coeliac disease so I can’t have any risk of gluten in my drink. You guys serve a gluten-containing oat milk so I have to make sure there’s no chance any bit of that gets in my drink… just want to check its a clean jug, the steamer has been wiped down with a clean cloth etc”.
  • I also double check what actually goes into the drink they make me. I don’t want to scare anyone but I once had a barrista go a little off piste and add a few extras to the advertised drink…. the extras were not gluten free.
  • If they make you feel at all uncomfortable (which is all too common), remember you are not a burden!!!!!

(3) So you know what others do… Based on an Insta Poll, around 60% of coeliacs will drink at a coffee shop that sells gluten containing oat milk

(4) Note, COSTA uses a gluten free oat milk so this isn’t a concern!

Other Cross Contamination Concerns

In the same vein, coffee shop staff obviously handle a lot of gluten-containing foods on a regular basis. Everyone is different but I personally am comfortable with this risk and just follow the steps listed above to make sure I’m safe.


  • Claire Grant

    25th November 2021 at 11:08 pm

    I don’t know if this is all Caffè Nero but my local one in Southampton uses gluten free oat milk.

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