I’m picking on Starbucks here because I know they are guilty but this applies to many coffee shops.
Those of us with dairy allergies who cannot drink cow’s milk have a huge choice of plant milks available to us including rice, oat, coconut, hemp, almond, cashew, soya etc. Quite a lot of choice, and most coffee shops with have some plant milk alternatives, though sadly most only have soya…
I have a dairy, nut and soya allergy so I alternate between rice, oat, coconut, hemp and others!
But have you watched them making your dairy free coffee? That frothing nozzle that they use is wiped down with a wet milky rag. Is it even cleaned between customers?
I have never heard a barista ask whether the customer’s choice of plant milk is due to a life threatening allergy.
Yet this is exactly what they should be asking.
So when you ask for a soya latte, is it just a soya latte is or there just a little trace of milk in there?
For me and many others with a life threatening dairy allergy, one that could cause a very serious allergic reaction, this is something you need to take seriously.
This might be OK for many and for a vegan, they wouldn’t notice the difference, but for many of us this is NOT safe.
It can be done though. If you have a dedicated frother – and you don’t need a huge kitchen or cafe to do this.
Check out Guy, my favourite barista, pictured here at Amici’s Cafe. It’s a small local caff near where I work and has one (on the left) for cow’s milk and one (on the right) for plant milks…
I still don’t risk it.
I always opt to black coffee because I actually really like it without any milk at all. I’ve got used to it, and due to the severity of my allergies, it’s safer.
Guy says he trains his staff to use the right one if a customer asks for dairy free, but in a busy cafe mistakes could happen. He advised that anyone with a very serious allergy should make sure staff are aware how bad a reaction could be so that his staff are reminded and can take extra precautions to keep you safe.
Don’t take chances with your health.
Stay safe. If a cafe is busy and you feel at all worried, ask for a black tea or coffee and stay safe.
Please listen Starbucks
To Starbucks, Pret, Costa and every other cafe out there, please check your training and processes and make sure your staff are aware that mistakes can cost lives.
I don’t want to hear about any more accidents in cafes or restaurants, and this has been bugging me now for weeks since my friend @CharlieLondonVegan from Instagram phoned me to check I was aware because she felt this could pose significant danger for allergic customers. Charlie is vegan so it wouldn’t affect her, but as she watched the barista in her local Starbucks cafe making her vegan latte she realised that they used the same part of the coffee machine without cleaning from one customer to the next. That’s not right.
If you have a dairy allergy you may also be interested in another blog I’ve written about “Airborne milk protein in cafes”.
I hope by sharing this I can help keep dairy and cow’s milk allergic customers safe. Don’t take risks please.
Stay safe. Have you had an allergic reaction from a hot drink in a cafe? I know I have. From a stirrer that was just dunked into a jug of water. Not cleaned, not safe, and only carrying a tiny trace of dairy probably but enough to give me an asthma attack and cut short my trip to London. An aborted mission and a lesson to me in being more careful, watching like a hawk and making sure staff know how allergic I am. I am sure they think I’m mad…
“Black coffee please, no milk. Please put the lid on and don’t stir it.” says the mad crazy allergy lady!
Keep me safe! If you work in a cafe, please consider all your customers and ask them if you’re unsure, how careful do you need to be?
It’s time to ask questions.
Make sure you understand the risks and take precautions whether staff or customer. We will make this world a safer place.