Can you add guar gum to your coffee?

Guar Gum

For the dairy-free folks out there craving a good latte, this dairy-free version made with xanthan gum has taken the world by storm. All it takes is two ingredients: coffee and xanthan gum, plus a blender to create this frothy treat. From what I can tell, xanthan gum and guar gum have similar uses, so it got me wondering if guar gum could also be used to whip up a dairy-free latte made with the help of science instead of milk.

The answer is: probably. While guar gum and xanthan gum have similar properties as binders that are great for gluten-free baking and other uses in the kitchen, the two aren’t completely equal. While you could try to use guar gum in place of xanthan gum in your coffee beverage, you may not get the results you’re looking for.

The main reason for this is that, while guar gum is typically preferred for use in cold foods, high-temperature foods with high acidity can actually work against guar gum’s thickening properties or even eliminate them altogether. If the point of adding guar gum to your coffee is to get a thick and creamy latte-like beverage, you may want to stick with room temperature or iced coffee to ensure the two ingredients aren’t working against each other.

What is guar gum?

If you aren’t familiar with what guar gum is, let’s take a step back and dive into where it comes from and what it can be used for. The process starts with the plant Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, a drought-resistant plant grown mostly in India and Pakistan, but with a history in the United States as well. Guar gum is extracted from the beans or seeds grown from the plant, processed, treated, and made into powder.

Interestingly enough, guar gum has a lot of uses outside of the kitchen, including:

  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Textiles
  • Explosives
  • Paper

These alternative uses have helped guar gum remain in high demand, as it is especially useful as a thickener for many of the purposes listed above. This had me wondering, though, if guar gum is so popular for industrial purposes, is it healthy or beneficial to consume?

Guar gum nutrition

Guar gum does boast some dietary benefits. It is low-calorie and high-fiber, which is optimal for anyone looking to lose weight. Food that won’t take much effort to burn off and helps make you feel full for longer is hard to come by. One serving (1 tablespoon or 567 grams) clocks in at 20 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of protein.

At the same time, consuming guar gum can help your body regulate both blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as decrease your risk for heart disease, and perhaps even improve symptoms for people with irritable bowel syndrome.

Sounds great, right? Well, do keep one thing in mind. If you rely on the use of guar gum due to gluten-free dietary restrictions and therefore consume a lot of guar or other gums, some people can experience abdominal distress, gas, or cramping after consuming it. Some folks tolerate guar gum just fine, while others experience uncomfortable symptoms. As with anything new, it’s never a bad idea to consult a medical provider before adding anything to your diet, and, if given the all-clear, to start by adding small amounts at a time to your daily consumption.

Guar gum in coffee

As we’ve already touched on, adding guar gum to your coffee isn’t a surefire way to get that dairy-free latte, but it could have a similar effect as long as you use coffee that isn’t piping hot. Guar gum will dissolve in cold beverages, so you could just stir it into your coffee without blending it into a latte for a bit of a creamier texture.

Guar gum substitutes

We know that xanthan gum and guar gum are quite similar, and can be substituted for one another in many recipes, but there are several other substitutions that can work in lieu of guar gum as well.

  • Agar agar – a good substitute for guar gum, especially for gluten-free baking, when prepared properly
  • Chia seeds – also gluten-free, can work well in place of guar gum when crushed and soaked
  • Arrowroot powder – a good substitute for guar gum, especially for gluten-free baking, when prepared properly
  • Psyllium husk – a good substitute for guar gum that doesn’t require any special preparation before using in a recipe that calls for guar gum

Where to find guar gum

If you’re looking for guar gum at your local grocery store, check the baking aisle first. If you don’t have any luck there, head to the gluten-free section if the store has one. If you strike out completely at a local store, guar gum can be purchased from many online retailers.

Other recipes with guar gum

Guar gum is very popular in gluten-free baking, and it actually pairs really well with xanthan gum for breads and other baking recipes. These two ingredients complement each other well and help to produce food that mimics the texture of their gluten counterparts.

A good place to start baking gluten-free with guar gum is this sandwich bread recipe. If it’s your first time attempting any baking with guar gum, keep in mind that, while it is a dry ingredient, it must be soaked in water before adding to your recipe and cannot simply be added to the dry ingredients the recipe calls for.

You could also try these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, this gluten-free pizza crust or this pasta salad with guar gum dressing. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet or savory, there’s a guar gum recipe out there for you.

So while you certainly can add guar gum to your coffee, it may or may not be beneficial for you, depending on your needs. Xanthan gum seems to be the more solid choice for the dairy-free latte lovers out there, but it’s certainly possible that guar gum could create the same results. If you’re curious, go ahead and experiment! If it doesn’t work out, there’s always plenty of other uses for guar gum out there that you could try.