Monday, January 30, 2023

Does Coffee Have Sulfite in It? Here’s The Answer!

by Mads

Coffee gets produced in large quantities to fulfill the great demand. And most food items that are being produced in large quantities contain sulfite for preservation and packaging purposes.

A common question that pops up in our mind is whether coffee contains sulfite or not?

Generally, coffee does not contain any sulfite, but a few coffees may contain sulfite due to the roasting or packaging.

These coffees don’t contain sulfite naturally.

A few coffees contain sulfur as a result of taste development. For example, the amino acid cysteine and the methionine in the coffee contain sulfur.

The sulfur in the coffee turns into sulfite if given the right conditions.

Is Sulfite Dangerous to Consume?

Sulfite is usually harmless and poses no threatHowever, sulfite can be dangerous to people sensitive to sulfite or have sulfite allergies.

The allergies to sulfite among people can be of varying degrees. These allergies depend on the sensitivity people have towards sulfite.

It is important to note that sulfite allergies can become life-threatening if you have asthma and sulfite sensitivity. This can lead to severe reactions and become life-threatening if not treated correctly.

The symptoms or reactions from sulfite allergies include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Drop-in blood pressure
  • Hives and itchiness
  • Flushing

Is Coffee High in sulfite?

Most coffees are sulfite-free; however, some coffees do contain sulfite.

The green beans of coffee in raw form do not contain sulfites. This is because sulfite is naturally present in most plant-based items, and since coffee is also plant-based, the coffee proteins contain sulfur.

The green beans do not contain sulfite, but the roasted coffee beans contain sulfur. This sulfur turns into sulfite when exposed to oxygen in roasting coffee beans.

Therefore, the roasting process is essential as it inevitably contains sulfite. But the degree and strength of sulfite can vary depending on the roasting temperature, time, type of coffee beans being used, and the type of roasting.

To have a sulfite-free coffee, make sure the roasting process is slow-roasted coffee beans that are not roasted at high temperatures.

Coffees that contain sulfite

●    Instant coffee

Instant coffee does contain sulfite but is only limited to a certain degree.

The instant coffee contents contain sulfite, but these also tend to diminish once the instant coffee is made soluble.

●    Starbucks coffee

Many Starbucks coffees do contain sulfite, but not all of them. 

You have to be extra careful while sipping your coffee at Starbucks since many drinks do contain sulfite. Starbucks does not have a corporate policy of serving its customers with food-related allergies.

Here are some of the coffees that contain sulfite at Starbucks. And, here are the top oat milk drinks of Starbucks.

Coffees Without Sulfite

Sulfite-free coffees do exist. However, the manufacturers don’t have a sulfite-free label on the coffees, but you can check for the ingredients. 

The sulfite content is mostly less than 0.001%, but if higher, they will mention it on the label.

Here are some of the coffees mentioned that don’t contain sulfite:

●    Keurig k-cups

These are the coffee pods used to make coffee and a great way to avoid sulfite in your coffee.

●    Unflavored coffee beans

Coffees without any added flavor are free of sulfite. Since sulfite is usually present for the taste development and aroma in the coffee, less aromatic coffees do not contain sulfite.

●    Decaf coffee beans

When you decaffeinate the coffee beans, the chemical compounds in the coffee are reduced automatically. This also minimizes any sulfite in the coffee, making it to 0. You can find decaf coffee beans easily in any local grocery store or roasters.

Foods That Contain Sulfite

Coffees are generally sulfite-free except for a few exceptions. But other than coffee, many food items do contain sulfite.

The sulfite in food items may be naturally occurring or added. However, sulfite is usually used for packaging and preservative purposes.

Other functions of sulfite in food items include:

  • Discoloration or black spots on lobsters.
  • Keeping fruits and vegetables from oxidizing.
  • Improving the texture of dough for pizzas and bread.

Some food items containing sulfite are as follows:

  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruits or vegetables
  • Packed beverages
  • Potato chips
  • Pickled foods
  • Condiments

Make sure to read the label and check for sulfite, potassium, sodium, or sulfur dioxide. These ingredients contain sulfite.


Most coffees do not contain sulfite, but there are a few exceptions.

The raw coffee beans do not contain sulfur, but the roasted coffee beans contain sulfur. So there it is the roasting process that adds sulfur to your coffee mostly.

Other than coffee, almost every other food item contains sulfite. If you are sensitive to sulfite, make sure to read the labels and avoid foods with sulfite. Sulfite sensitivity can cause adverse reactions, and asthma can be triggered and become life-threatening.

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