Panic at the Starbucks


I travel a lot for work and having celiac has made having good food or snack options on those drives a bit of a challenge. What I've found is if I can add a new menu item or drink to my options list, little by little, it makes the overall trip less stressful. One such amazingly good option is a Starbucks chai tea latte with coconut milk.

So on my recent drive to Tampa, I was looking forward to getting my favorite savory drink for meeting scheduled to last four hours. Yes, that's four, nonstop, consecutive hours. I was going to need this drink!! I pulled off the road and parked in front of the chosen location. As I got out of my car, I noticed something was amiss. My go to Starbucks had disappeared. No sign. No chairs. No staff. OMG, no CHAI TEA LATTE!

I had a moment.

Then I saw Panera next store (breathe, breathe, breathe). This could work. I walked in with hopes they could help me through my Starbucks loss. I asked the cashier if the latte they offered was gluten free. She looked slightly put off but I explained I had an allergy and she seemed to be willing to help. The manager was called over and together they lugged a binder of biblical proportions to the counter. A few minutes in to searching for details that would confirm my potential happiness or downfall, a sweet, adorable tiny elderly woman walked in behind me, ready to place her order.  A few seconds passed before she let out a large heavy sigh, expressing discontent that the staff appeared to be pouring over a book just to avoid helping customers.

I turned around to face her and forced a happy smile. "I'm so sorry but they're checking on some ingredients for me because I have an allergy", I shared. My no longer cute woman backed down and decided she could wait a little more patiently.


Only a few seconds later the whole Panera team decided my latte was safe (hallelujah!) and went to work on it while I mentally added the drink to my safe list. But before I was too far into my moment of relief I heard the cashier mutter, "Don't you just hate all these people that are going gluten free?"


I left quickly. Just another day in the life of this Celiac newbie. One new drink for the list. And one excellent test in my beliefs on non-violence. Win win.