Navigating Starbucks for the Kosher Consumer

Published Spring 2011
Updated Winter 2016

“I’ll have a Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato please.” If the aforementioned expression is something you find yourself saying (and understanding) on a regular basis, then pay close attention to what we are about to tell you ( for the uninitiated, we are discussing a large, high-calorie Starbucks drink be’laz) .

Over the past few months the Star-K at the behest of Starbucks (disclaimer: there is no family relation, we just happen to both be Stars in our respective industries) has conducted a top to bottom review of Starbucks stores, procedures, products, ingredients and suppliers. As a result we are now in a much better position to recommend more of the popular Starbucks items available. It must be made clear though, that many of our original concerns regarding Full-service Starbucks stores that offer non-kosher items still exist but we have been able to mitigate these concerns in a limited number of stores that have agreed to undertake “ Kosher Friendly Rinse Practices”, (see accompanying chart )

The unprecedented access granted the Star-K by Starbucks to its ingredient and supplier lists has also enabled us to recommend a number of the Frappuccino beverages for the first time.

Espressos are still permitted in all stores since the equipment used in making these is cleaned separately. The Star-K advises that you request disposable cups for making the espresso “shot” – as the normal procedure uses a shot glass that is washed with the non-kosher dishes, Unless the stores is one of the very few practicing Kosher Friendly Washes. (More details in the chart).

We also are maintaining the differentiation we established between full service Starbucks locations and the limited locations that do not serve hot non-kosher foods. The concerns we have with non-kosher equipment being cleaned with the coffee making utensils is true only at full-service Starbucks stores that serve treif sandwiches and the like. In the limited locations that do not serve treif there is no concern with the coffee equipment.

Not only that, but Rabbi Heinemann paskens that when someone is traveling he is considered to be in a b’dieved situation and would be permitted to drink the Starbucks coffee!1  The same would apply to coffee served on airplanes or at gas stations.

Finally, in the interest of clarity, it must be noted that the Star-K is not certifying Starbucks locations or products. You will not find the Star-K symbol displayed in any Starbucks stores or on their products .The information in this article and in the accompanying chart are simply recommendations based on our research and the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann Shlita, Star-K’s Rabbinic Administrator. Furthermore, these recommendations apply only to Starbucks locations. Other coffee shop chains may have more complicated kashrus hurdles to beware of.

See our accompanying chart for a detailed overview of the what, when, and how to best indulge your Starbucks habit al pi halacha. Please check back often as we are working with Starbucks to expand this list as much as possible.

1.This psak is based on the Yad Ephraim, Y.D. 122-6, D’H’ Shelo’.  He quotes a responsa from the Nodeh Be’Yehudah who discusses a question regarding the Starbucks of his time – the ubiquitous coffee house.  It seems that even in 18th-century Prague, Jews had a thing for coffee.  The question in this case revolved around the permissibility of using the coffee house mugs (no paper cups in those days) that were used for non-cholov Yisroel milk. The Nodeh Beyehudah rules that one should refrain from using these coffee house mugs under normal circumstances.  But if one is traveling and has no alternative, this constitutes a b’dieved situation and he may drink the coffee in these mugs.