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Creative Spending: A Guide To Utilizing Coffee Shop Gift Cards

With the recent clarifications on the Word of Wisdom published on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website churchofjesuschrist.org dated 15 August 2019, the official Church document states that “Church leaders have clarified that several substances are prohibited by the Word of Wisdom, including . . . green tea, and coffee-based products.” For those who have been enjoying these products at places like Starbucks® or other coffee shops or even at home this is a bit of a shift.

What makes it more of a struggle for those who earnestly seek to follow the Word of Wisdom is the holiday season, when gift cards to such establishments can cause more than a little stress. Several people interviewed stated they usually re-gift those items since it is the easiest choice, due to the uncertainty of any Word of Wisdom-friendly menu items.

A little online research can prove to be most helpful in determining the best way to utilize gift cards. Photo by Karelyn Goins

A little online research can prove to be most helpful in determining the best way to utilize gift cards. Photo by Karelyn Goins

Utilizing gift cards or rewards points while continuing to live the Word of Wisdom can be tricky with things like seasonal changes in the menu, hidden pitfalls such as coffee derivatives and extracts, as well as a general lack of clarity on a few of the ingredients lists for certain menu items—specifically, the Vanilla Crème Steamer. The fact that certain drinks, when ordered in a specific way, can comply with the Word of Wisdom is even more confusing.

The good news is that the Starbucks® website clearly states most of the ingredients for their menu items. While Starbucks® is known mainly for its coffee beverages, it actually has quite a large food menu. Most of this menu is free of coffee, tea, or caffeinated items, although there are a few clearly marked coffee-rich treats.

Be aware that there are a few enigmas in the “safe zone” to watch out for. One is the enigmatic “mocha sauce.” Any research on this proved to be fruitless in determining exactly what the “natural flavors” mentioned on the ingredients list are derived from. The other mystery menu item is the aforementioned Vanilla Crème Steamer. When asked, Sarah the barista clarified that the Vanilla Crème Steamer is “made with milk and vanilla flavor.”

Navigating the beverages side of the menu is where it tends to get the most confusing, and doing so definitely requires some research as well as more attention to detail. If ordering straight off the menu, stick to herbal teas, hot or iced, hot chocolates, hot juice, steamers, and of course milk, cold juice, and water. These are essentially the Word of Wisdom-friendly beverages. Hot juice may not sound all that appetizing, but having steamed apple juice flavored with cinnamon, caramel, and topped with whipped cream might cause one to rethink that opinion.

Whether through research, experimentation, or asking the barista, those gift cards will be used in no time this holiday season.

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