Gluten Free coffee shop snacks

I’m not a big fan of coffee but still enjoy ‘going out for a coffee’ and a chat or in my case going out for a fruity drink and a chat 🙂 Whether I’m meeeting my boyfriend, friends, mum or dad I sometimes think it would be nice to nibble a wee cookie or cake with my drink but these days, as a coeliac, it is a lot more difficult to find somewhere that this is a possibility. The last few times I’ve gone out I’ve taken my own seed and nut bar or flavoured rice cakes with me to avoid my little green monster showing his head as my mum delves into her gluten filled yet delicious looking muffin.  So far I’ve found a few places that do have gluten free options and a few others that don’t…if anyone out there has been to a coffee shop that sells tasty gluten free treats then let me know and I’ll add your findings to my list so that other coeliacs can enjoy a gluten free snack along with their coffee! The following relates to coffee shops in the UK and more specifically, Glasgow

Starbucks: sell a gluten free chocolate brownie and a gluten free luxury christmas cake (at christmas time).

Costa Coffee: sell a gluten free brownie. Concerns? Check out the discussion below.

Bean Scene: do not currently sell any gluten free snacks.

Marks & Spencer: sell a gluten free chocolate muffin

     Glasgow Restaurant Reviews Comments are closed Trackback URL


  • Beware of Costa Coffee Browies.

    I just purchased one. Big label on the shelf saying it was Gluten free. Luckily I checked the ingredients & noticed Wheat on the “Contains” line.
    The packaging itself did not claim to be Gluten free, so I guess they’ve just changed their product without bothering to change the labels on the shelves.

    It can be a pain, but try not to take GF products for granted & always check.
    When you catch a shop out like this, make sure they know it & ensure they remove the offending product or label & agree to inform their head office of the problem before you leave the shop in order to protect others (I’ve also been known to go back later to check they’ve not just put it back after I left :). Usually they understand and agree readilly.

  • OOPS!

    It appears I’ve gone off half cocked this time and now need to back track. I ended up in another Costa later in the day and spotted the same label. So naturally I picked one up & read the ingredients again, fully intending to show the assistant and make my point once more. However this time I noticed (in the more detailed ingredients) “Gluten free wheat starch”. Somehow I didn’t notice it before, nor did the assistant, but I must assume it was the same.

    So red faced, I must now offer my sincere apologies to Costa Coffee & the readers of this forum and shut up in future until I’m more certain of my facts.

  • Hi, i would just like to say, i still would not trust Costa’s Gluten free Brownie. I have eaten them in the past, and was warned a few weeks ago, by a costa worker, NOT to eat it. Lots of people have complained that they have been ill after eating it.
    Try Starbucks, they now do a tuna and red pepper sandwich, made with yummy GENIUS bread. They are a bit mean with the filling, but its still nice to have a sarnie instead of a cake.
    Also muffin break do Gluten free muffins, and you normally have 2/3 to choose from.:o)

  • An Clachan in Kelvingrove park does a great ornage polenta cake. They also have spelt bread for those who avoid wheat ( I know, not great for those who need to avoid gluten.

    Yet, beanscene is my favourite place to relax and they just don’t seem to want to cater for wheat/gluten avoiders. Many moons ago they were one of the first to sell gluten free brownies . It’s disappointing because their owners supply their other restaurant with goods from Tapas Bakehouse. The cakes in beanscene are from Brakes 🙁

  • 1901 Deli on Skirving St, Shawlands do gluten free cake and a couple of packets of brownie type slices and biscuits. I ordered a coffee and bought a pack of their orange and chocolate slices and had one sitting in. Tapa organic in Pollockshaws Rd/whitehill St, also do lots of wheat or gluten free goodies. In fact they do the best cherry brownie i have ever tasted, it’s more like a giant choc truffle. Starbucks do a tuna/potato and minted pea salad which is gluten free and a gluten free brownie and a few other gf cakes (as mentioned above)

  • Carmella

    Jul 23rd, 2010

    I went into the Costa in Buchanan Galleries yesterday and saw the brownie. It says gluten free on the front and ‘warning: contains wheat’ on the back. I did not see any mention that it was gluten free wheat starch or anything. I don’t trust it! Marks and Spencer’s cafe does a gluten free choc muffin as well. I discovered it the other day, it was like heaven.

  • 23 October – Costa Coffee are still selling the “Gluten Free” Chocolate Brownies with the warning on the back that they contain wheat! I have contacted Whitbread, the parent company of Costa twice but they have not responded to me. I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last November and have eaten these brownies on a regular basis thinking they were safe. I have followed a strict gluten free diet but, low and behold, my latest blood tests show I have gluten antibodies.

  • I went to Costa Coffee twice yesterday – once early in the morning and then again later in the afternoon. On both occasions I had a chocolate brownie – as it clearly states on the front of the packaging that it is Gluten Free. I felt quite guilty eating two brownies in one day so decided to have a look at the back to see how many calories they contained – only to find that it states that the brownie contains “wheat” – not gluten free wheat starch but “wheat”. I have really suffered last night and tonight and will be contacting Costa Coffee, demanding an explanation!

  • Thank you Jane for contacting Whitbread (the parent company of Costa coffee) regarding their ‘gluten free chocolate brownie’. Here is the response she got….

    Thank you for your email regarding our Chocolate Brownie. I do apologise for any confusion we may have caused regarding this product.

    I can confirm that this product contains gluten-reduced wheat, which is specially formulated to remove the gluten to an acceptable level, which meets the current requirement for the codex standards. . The wheat starch used within the product is a gluten-reduced wheat specially formulated to remove the gluten to an acceptable level to meet the requirements of the codex standards. The amount used in the product is less than 2% and less than 200 parts per million. The final product is tested to ensure it meets the correct guidelines and one sample is tested from each batch and if the values are over 200parts per million the batch will not be sent to Costa.

    As an update we have reprinted the packaging to state the product contains ‘gluten free wheat starch’ so it is clearer that the product is definitely gluten free but it will still not be wheat free for those customers who are intolerant to wheat.

    Your feedback is important to us and I have also passed your comments onto our Marketing Team who will be closely monitoring all feedback on this new product.


  • Jean Houston

    Feb 2nd, 2011

    I would just like to share my most recent discovery.

    Vanilla Blacks cafe on Sauchiehall Street do the most wonderful selection of various gluten free polenta cakes, including apple and nutmeg, pear and spices and plum.

    They are so moist and tasty but very filling so no need for lunch lol

  • Thanks Jean. I’ve walked past Vanilla Blacks a few times but have never tried it. I always noticed the fantastic looking cup cakes in the window display though. The Polenta cakes sound delicious so I’ll have to try a couple when I go back to Glasgow!

  • And of Course, John Lewis do a GF soup and roll

  • I note that the reply posted in the Dec 2010 comment says that they were using gf wheat starch under the 200ppm standard. In Europe this changes to under 20ppm by January 2012 – does anyone know if the stuff sold in the UK meets these new rules yet?

  • Jill Taylor

    Oct 29th, 2011

    Really interesting article & comments. Good that the questions raised with Whitbread were more than adequately answered, shame the info obviously isn’t well communicated to their teams on the ground.
    Interesting that some had such adverse reactions even though no gluten content.
    Still prefer homemade but nice to know the option’s there if needed.

  • Annie, I’m not 100% sure but I don’t think Costa are following the 2012 guidelines on labelling as yet. I have a feeling that these brownies will not be labelled as gluten free next year. They are making too many people sick that I can’t imagine the gluten levels could be below 20ppm. I have contacted Costa again in the hopes of getting someone to explain once and for all the story behind this ‘gluten free’ brownie! Stay tuned..

  • I was in Costa today and their chocolate brownie is a new recipe and properly gluten and wheat free now. Yummy too, nice and moist (has dried almonds in now); and no more “gluten free wheat starch.”

    Was chatting to the shop assistant and they have a dietary book to refer to if you need to check any of their food /drinks for allergens.

  • Thanks, Lynda! The ‘Is the Costa chocolate brownie really gluten free?’ debate may finally have been solved! How great that they have altered their recipe to make it properly gluten free..something to do with the new labelling legislation I presume. Fantastic that it tastes good too. 🙂

  • I know that Whetherspoon’s isn’t your typical coffe shop, but they do do coffee there, and I wanted to mention that they have over a dozen gluten free options on their menu. Including the most amazing gluten free Bramley Apple Pear & Raspberry crumble that is soooo good.

  • Catherine

    Jan 18th, 2013

    Would you be able to clarify to me if the hot chocolate served at m&s cafe is gluten free. I had one last yesterday, the lay serving checked the allergy file and said it was fine. I have not felt well all day, went to a different m&s cafe and they told me the hot chocolate wasn’t gf!!! I’ve seen staff struggle with the allergy file before – just want to know for future reference 🙂 thanks 🙂

  • Alice Burch

    Aug 18th, 2013

    The Costa brownies may be GF but they are often next close to wheat/Gluten products and the same utensils are used. If you ask to use a napkin because of cross contamination I often get snake looks! Also how do you know the brownies are cut with GF knives?

    What about hot chocolate in:

    café nero?

  • Alice, I haven’t had a brownie at Costa’s for a while but aren’t they individually packaged to avoid cross contamination?

    In places which put gluten free products next to gluten containing products I would always ask if they had a safe one in the back that hasn’t been contaminated.

  • Cross contamination is a major problem as people without allergies are just not aware. Using the same knife to cut GF products as non-GF products, using the same gloves to handle products or even being next to a product containing gluten can cause problems. I would only trust products which are packaged and always read the label carefully.

    As a multiple food allergy sufferer I’m allergic to wheat, gluten, dairy milk and nuts. It’s very difficult for me to get food when I’m out. Also some on here have mentioned getting a reaction to coffee. I also get a reaction to coffee.

  • Hi all

    I just had a costa brownie and when i got home i was ill, thats why i looked on the web and found this site, I wonder if the costa bosses would mind me putting laxatives in there food as it would have exactly the same effect on them as there brownie had on me, I think not! Well done costa i will get my coffee elsewhere


  • My husband is coeliac and we went to costa today and he had a chocolate brownie which said it was gluten free. He as been really ill since having it, makes you wonder after reading the above comments

  • I have been eating Costa chocolate brownies for a fairly long time and I myself am coeliac but have never ever felt ill after eating one. I think the main thing here is your own personal sensitivity, before even though 20ppm was okay for some people it still may not stop a reaction, if you know you’re perhaps going to be sensitive don’t eat it. Simple as.

  • I had a gluten free brownie from Costa today & been really ill all evening!! I’ve been off gluten for about 3 weeks now & was starting to feel better. Thanks Costa!!