After repeated shareholder pressure, Starbucks has finally decided to expand their options to accommodate to the needs of the gluten-free community.
Since the gluten-free selection at Starbucks is slim, this is very exciting news!
"We have really screwed up the gluten-free stuff," said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at a recent shareholders meeting. Schultz recently shared that over the years, shareholders have put constant pressure on him to provide more gluten-free options to customers. Schultz has since insisted that he plans to fix it because this is a "big opportunity."
Their newest gluten-free offering, announced nationally on Monday, is called Hippeas, and is an organic chickpea puff that comes in two flavors: white cheddar and fajita. In addition to being gluten-free, Hippeas are also vegan and kosher.
In addition to the new gluten-free snack, Starbucks will also begin offering almond milk, a clear nod to those who would like milk in their coffee but need to avoid both dairy and soy.
Starbucks plans to roll-out these new options at select locations starting September 6th, and nationwide by the end of the month.
Gluten-Free Options at Starbucks
In 2009, Starbucks proved that it was a trend starter and innovator when it began offering a gluten-free almond orange cake. They unfortunately quickly discontinued the pastry, and have since expressed frustration with the difficult task of offering gluten-free baked goods in a facility with so many cross contamination issues.
"Items in our pastry case can be subject to cross contamination, and we also use shared equipment," Starbucks spokeswoman Erin Schaeffer explained. "Adding gluten-free options to our broader food portfolio has posed a challenge that we continue to explore."
Current nationwide gluten-free options at Starbucks include different fruit and nut snacks, jerky and Pop Gourmet Popcorn. Regional options include the Marshmallow Dream Bar, Justin's Peanut Butter Cups, Food Should Taste Good chips, Lucy's Cookies and, my personal favorite, KIND Bars. Starbucks serves prepared salads but do not have cross contamination policies in their kitchens.
What About the Coffee?
Starbucks has been notoriously unwilling to make any promises regarding their prepared beverages. The company actually advises those with celiac and gluten sensitivity against ordering beverages prepared behind the counter. While many people claim to have no reaction when drinking their coffees, the blended drinks and other coffees with syrup have a history of giving people gluten symptoms.
Starbucks is also adamant about not providing detailed ingredient lists for their specialty drinks, especially their holiday treats. Ingredients vary depending upon location and product availability, so they are unwilling to stick to a set list. While a company spokesperson stated that the 2015 pumpkin spice latte had no gluten containing ingredients, it was still made on the same machines as drinks that do contain gluten, so was rife with cross contamination. We're still waiting to hear on the 2016 latte, but honestly folks, you should probably avoid these drinks.
For tea drinkers, four of the Starbucks Tazo Teas contain gluten: Green Ginger, Tazo Honeybush, Lemon Ginger and Tea Lemonade. In addition, because the same tongs are used to dispense all of their tea bags, you run the risk of cross contamination by ordering tea.
Bottled versions of Starbucks Frappuccinos and other bottled drinks including the Starbucks Double Shot and Starbucks Doubleshot Energy, are labeled gluten-free.
Plans for the Future
While the current situation at Starbucks isn't ideal, they do seem to be waking up and it appears that the future looks bright!
Starbucks recently reported that they are looking to add gluten-free salads and other snacks, and are also hoping to offer syrups for blended coffee drinks that meet gluten-free standards. They did not, however, offer a timeline for these additions (which we will welcome with open arms)!
Hey Starbucks, if you are reading this, we wouldn't mind a gluten-free croissant!