Little Miss GF

The Life and Adventures of Little Miss Gluten Free

January 20, 2015

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Starbucks, You Disappoint Me!

It wasn’t really my intention upon starting this blog to write the negatives. Being an upbeat and bubbly person I much prefer to write about the good stuff! However, after this mornings Starbucks’ experience I feel the need to pop it down here too!

Having enjoyed my Sunday morning Pilates session close to Tower Bridge, it had become a little habit of mine to pop to Starbucks round the corner for a nice refreshing frappuccino or juice blend. This was my first time back as a gluten free-er and having had many successful trips to coffee shops in the last few weeks where people don’t bat an eyelid at the ‘do you have anything gluten free?’ and then generally fall over themselves to be accommodating, I wasn’t worried. Starbucks is, after all, one of the largest and most internationally diversified coffee houses out there, with it’s homeland being America (the land of the gluten free!).

So I headed to Starbucks all excited for my Sunday treat, and asked the pretty simple question, ‘which of your frappuccinos are gluten free?’ Cue the barrista to look very confused, and after a moment say, ‘you mean you want soya milk?’ ‘No’, I explained, ‘gluten free is different to lactose intolerance. I’m fine with milk….’

This rather bizarre conversation continued until a different barrista appeared and asked what exactly I’d like. I once again explained that all I was hoping for was a gluten free drink… He looked as confused as his colleague had done and went on to explain about how he didn’t really know anything about gluten free. Not exactly what I would expect from a multinational coffee company!

The other barrista then reappeared with two milk bottles, apparently so I could have a look at the ingredients to see if they were ok. I once again explained that it wasn’t the milk I was worried about and started to let them know I was very surprised at Starbucks, did they not have a list of their products which listed items containing nuts, gluten, etc. No, they said, just for the food products. Suffice it to say I left at this pint with little interest in explaining further what a gluten intolerance is and why Starbucks really ought to be able to accommodate it.

After leaving I also jumped onto Google to see if I could find the information for myself…and my quick two minute browse did not reap any rewards.

Well, Starbucks, I am suitably disappointed and will not be returning any time soon.

Off to Costa Coffee I go for a guaranteed gf treat.

Dear Starbucks,

I have recently been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and am currently working my way through the minefield that is eating and drinking out as a gluten free consumer.

I have visited a large number of coffee shops in the last few weeks and must admit that I have been incredibly impressed. Whether I look up the list of gluten free food and drink online prior to a visit, or simply ask a barista or waiter when I arrive at the shop, I am generally overwhelmed with the way in which people instantly know what they have that is gluten free and then how they do everything they can to accommodate my dietary requirements.

Unfortunately, this was not the case at all when I visited Starbucks this morning for the first time since diagnoses.

My request was simple; which of your Frappuccinos are gluten free? I was rather disappointed when the barista’s response was ‘we can make any of them with soya milk’. I re-iterated that I am gluten free, not lactose intolerant, which only served to baffle him further. While I understand that not everyone is au fait with what exactly gluten is (I was pretty unaware myself to begin with) I would expect the employees of a multinational coffee shop to have been trained about which different dietary requirements are and are not catered for. I suggested that perhaps there was a list behind the bar with the ingredients/dietary notes for each drink, such as containing nuts or gluten, and was informed that such a list is only available for food.

I then searched on your website to see if I could find such a list for consumers, and at a quick glance was unable to do so.

Suffice it to say that I am very disappointed. Given how many people have Coeliac Disease and are forced to be gluten free, and how many establishments cater for this requirement with relative ease, it seems very strange to me that Starbucks does not do the same thing.

I would be very interested to hear from you and to know what Starbucks does do for gluten free consumers and why I received such disappointing customer service this morning.

I look forward to your response.

Best wishes,

‘Little Miss GF’


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