How To Drink Coffee On The Go With Food Allergies

I am a coffee drinker. I wasn’t always, but once it happened I realized how much I look forward to it each morning. Drinking coffee with food allergies though adds an extra challenge.

With nut allergies in particular, coffee drinking has become increasingly riskier. I realize for someone with a dairy allergy, this has always been complicated. However, for those of us allergic to nuts, soy, coconut, or rice, we have now joined the complicated coffee club. I love that there are now more milk friendly options for people, I just find that cross contact has now become an increasingly more difficult issue in the coffee world. For example, if you enjoy drinking lattes, the steaming wand goes in a variety of different milks to heat them up. The wand that heated up your skim milk may have also heated up almond milk. Occasionally coffee shops have one wand specifically used for other milks, but that isn’t common.

I was always skeptical of drip coffee in the States because of the use of nuts as coffee flavorings. My first coffee wasn’t until I lived in Italy. I didn’t have to worry about flavorings or any other types of milk. It made life a lot easier. I also learned to drink espresso from the beginning of my coffee drinking life- so that added to the ease.

As a traveler, it isn’t always simple to find safe coffee on the road. Here are some tips for my coffee drinking friends out there!

  • Pack some instant coffee packets. I like to use Starbucks but there are other choices.
  • For kids, they may enjoy hot chocolate or tea. Bring a safe hot cocoa packet or favorite tea. Finding hot water is much easier than finding safe hot chocolate.
  • Locate a coffee shop that will sell you (yes, you usually still have to pay) some hot water in a “to go” cup.
  • If the open stirrers worry you, use one of the paper-covered straws to mix in your coffee or hot cocoa.
  • If you really want to add milk to your coffee, I always ask the barista if she can take it straight from the carton. I also ask to see the carton to double check what is going in my coffee. I no longer use milk containers that are left out for customers to serve themselves.

Even though coffee has become a greater challenge with food allergies, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done safely. How do you find safe coffee on the go?

2 Comments

  1. Miss Allergic Reactor

    Hi Andrew! I’m glad you found my post. You will have such a fabulous time in Florence. Italy is amazing! Do you have chef cards translated with your allergies in Italian? Make sure to bring those with you. It isn’t common to have any flavorings with coffee, which is why it felt safer to me. I have also never seen them use almond milk. Florence is a pretty touristy city, so I would always still ask that it is just plain espresso, etc., but there are just many less choices in Italy and that actually makes it easier. Do you follow me on Instagram? I have a lot of travel tips on there too. Make sure to advocate for yourself and trust your gut. Always ask about ingredients. You will find that olive oil is used mostly everywhere and that many foods have very few ingredients. It was the easiest place I ever lived with my food allergies. However, one thing that is tricky is finding safe packaged food, so def pack some for travel. Stick to olive oil and sunflower oil. There is “olio vegetale” which can be any vegetable and nuts are potentially included. The same for any mixed oils. Feel free to e-mail me at foodallergyexperience@gmail.com. Have so much fun!!

  2. I will be leaving for Florence in a few days for Study Abroad. I am allergic to peanuts and tree-nuts and started drinking (allergy safe) coffee a few months ago. I saw in this article you said you started drinking coffee in Italy. This was one of my main concerns. Can you please tell me why you felt safe drinking Italian coffee? What did you learn about asking the baristas about having a nut allergy?

    Also, how challenging was it to order at restaurants with your allergies?

    Thank you in advance.

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