Why can it be assumed that coffee from coffee shops is kosher? Why couldn't the equipment become unkosher through exposure to non kosher ingredients or when being cleaned?

For example the Canadian chain Tim Horton's makes coffee in pots and puts those pots in a non kosher dishwasher. To me that should make the coffee not kosher.

There's also the issue with stirring milk/sugar with a non kosher spoon.

Why do (a significant number) of kosher Jews assume all this is kosher?


There are a number of kashrut issues regarding drinking coffee from coffee shops, such as:

  1. Ingredients of additives (to those fancy flavored coffees)
  2. Chalav Yisrael (for those who keep it)
  3. Maarit Ayin
  4. Status of keilim (esp. considering their cleaning)
  5. Cup and spoon used to drink the coffee
  6. Bishul Akum

Various contemporary opinions range from being completely forbidden to walk inside a coffee shop to being able to drink kosher-ingredient coffee in a non-certified place. Some of the issues can be resolved making it permissible to drink there, such as

  1. M'lekatchila requesting for a disposable cup & spoon and b'dievad being able to drink from a ceramic cup (Yechave Daat Vol. 4 #42)
  2. Considering the cleaning with treif as Noten Taam Lifgam
  3. Wearing a hat inside the coffeeshop (instead of a kippah)

For more info:

  1. A great site that discusses the possibilities to allow is Kosher Starbucks
  2. An article from the Chicago Rabbinical Council detailing all the halachic issues in depth
  • +1 for linking to both Kosher Starbucks and the CRC (who have diametrically opposite positions on the issue of Starbucks and similar coffee houses). – Seth J Sep 11 '12 at 14:39
  • this doesn't answer the question, which is "Why do some consider it kosher?" – Charles Koppelman Sep 11 '12 at 14:43
  • @CharlesKoppelman, note the three numbered items in the middle of the answer, and the links at the bottom. These directly address that question. – msh210 Sep 11 '12 at 15:30

Things do not become non-kosher simply through exposure to non-kosher items. There are two basic rules to know:

  1. A non-kosher item can only render something non-kosher if it transfers some of its [significant; not subtle] flavor to the thing. This is a very basic concept, and is found in Shulchan Aruch YD 98:1. (How we ascertain if flavor has been transferred is a matter of disagreement. The Shulchan Aruch, following the ruling of Gemara, rules that we ask a non-Jew to taste the thing. Rema says the custom is not to rely on that and thus to require 60:1 whenever the matter is uncertain.)

  2. Even if flavor has been transferred, if the mixture as a whole is any less pleasant tasting because of this added flavor, it does not render the thing non-kosher. This is also a basic concept, and is found in Shulchan Aruch YD 103:1.

These two points are the Halachic avenues which provide the basis for people who will drink coffee at any coffee house. Without getting involved in specific, technical arguments (a number of which can be found here under the question "Doesn’t the Chicago Rabbinical Council advise against many of the beverages which you recommend?") the basic idea is that you never, ever taste any meat/fat flavor in your coffee, nor would most people want to, so in essence you have both rules 1 and 2 working for you.

I am not denying the fact that the other side may have some technical arguments which are cause for their disagreement with this conclusion, though they certainly do not argue fundamentally on the above two points. This is just to give you a basic idea why someone's rabbi might allow them to drink in any coffee shop even though there are non-kosher items processed at the same facility.

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