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It is common practice to allow drinking coffee pretty much anywhere. It is also widely accepted to drink unflavored beers. Would that logic allow one to drink beer that is commercially brewed and/or flavored with coffee?

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    brewjew, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! Awesome username. Perhaps you'd be interested in taking a look at our 15 other questions about alcohol or, more broadly, at our 278 other questions about kashrut. – Isaac Moses Jul 3 '13 at 1:07
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    Just curious: why would it be non-kosher? Assuming that the coffee is kosher (I know of no reason, personally, why it wouldn't be), and assuming that it's not Pesach, under what circumstances would the combination of the two result in something forbidden for consumption? – Shimon bM Jul 3 '13 at 1:12
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    @ShimonbM, I think the concern is whether they are acceptable without certification. – Yirmeyahu Jul 3 '13 at 1:57
  • Just a point in fact, usually coffee-flavored beer is not flavored with brewed coffee, but with coffee beans. – Charles Koppelman Aug 2 '13 at 18:16
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Second ShimonbM's comment. Practically, as soon as we hear "flavored beer" we get worried what might be in there. Without any further information I wouldn't buy a non-hechshered "coffee-flavored beer" at the store for that reason. However if you're certain the only ingredients are wheat, barley, coffee beans, hops, yeast, and water, and the equipment isn't used for anything else (are you brewing your own?), I can't see the issue.

(With regards to both coffee and beer, the question is raised [Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 38:12] why they're not prohibited under the ban on gourmet-food-cooked-by-non-Jews. The answer given to both is that the main ingredient is water, which doesn't need cooking! I thus can't see how coffee-with-beer would be any different.)

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    Wouldn't the non-application of the aforementioned restriction depend on the basis for its non-application in those other cases? I mean, if the basis is that they are too basic and consumed by average Joes, might it not be conceivable that a niche beverage prepared in a trendy bar/restaurant qualifies as gourmet? – Seth J Jul 3 '13 at 1:53
  • Your argument would apply equally to any flavored beer (or other processed product that doesn't rise to the Halachic "gourmet" status?) that has ingredients that are all known to you and inherently innocuous. So coffee beans, in this instance, are no different than, say, apples. However, wouldn't we still be worried about ingredients you don't know about and about equipment? – Isaac Moses Jul 3 '13 at 3:04
  • @SethJ sorry I threw you the wrong direction here. The reason (see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 38:12) we permit coffee and beer is that the main ingredient is water; thus permitted, gourmet or not. I was just mentioning by the way that the only prohibition is on gourmet items. – Shalom Jul 3 '13 at 9:00
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Coming at the answer from a different angle, I once asked a brewery about a coffee stout and what other ingredients might be in it. I received this response:

I don't think the Coffee Stout would fit the Kosher diet as there are food grade dairy sweeteners that we purchase. The coffee is not made by us but is on dedicated equipment.

This confirms the concern other answers have expressed that once a beer is flavored, it opens the possibilities for many other unknown and possibly non-kosher ingredients.

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I have asked both the OU and the CRC about this. It would make sense that since unflavored beer doesn't require a hechsher and certain ingredients themselves don't require one that beer with them shouldn't require a hechsher. The example I asked about was coffee. The answer from both was that beer companies need to make it known when they flavor their beer and once it is flavored then it is possible there was also flavoring that was non kosher added as well. Here are the email conversations I had with them...

The OU

My email:

The standard for beer has always been than unflavored beer requires no certification but flavored beer does. Understandably from the understanding some flavors are created by non kosher sources. However, I have not come across a good answer as to why all flavored beer requires certification as many of those ingredients added on their own wouldn't need certification such as coffee, coriander seeds, or orange peels. Thank you for your help, it is greatly appreciated.

The OU's response:

Thank you for contacting the OU.

The flavors come as industrial flavors. All flavors require certification. Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.

To the CRC

So the standard for beer i have heard repeated many times is that unflavored beer does not require a hechsher but flavored beer does. This makes sense in many cases but I have to ask why for coffee beer? Coffee beans don't require a hechsher and so why would a beer that has coffee beans put in it require one?

The CRC's response...

Hi Kyle,

Thank you for contacting the cRc with your beer question.

All flavored beer requires hashgacha due to kashrus concerns. Once a company adds even a simple flavoring, we don’t know what else they are adding. Hatzlacha,

Rabbi Akiva Niehaus

My follow up question to the CRC...

By that logic theres no way to tell if any beer without a hechsher added something extra in. My question is about when they have added ingridients which don't require a hechsher such as coffee?

The CRC's response...

Beer which has added flavorings must declare so on the label. Once they declare that they have flavorings, there are two issues – perhaps the stated flavoring isn’t kosher and perhaps they are adding additional flavorings which may also not be kosher. Rabbi Akiva Niehaus

  • The CrC logic doesn't make sense. Anything that is added has to be labeled. So even if they are adding a flavoring, they have to list that, as well as any other things they add. And regarding the flavorings by the OU, on what halakhic grounds do we say they need to be hecshered? – Aaron May 23 '16 at 17:03
  • I am merely posting the answers that I have received from two different rabbis of two mainstream kosher organizations. I have neither the smicha nor the involvement in the food industry which would give me the qualifications to negate these answers. While I may not fully understand the conclusion their answers stand as halacha that should be followed strictly. To do otherwise there must be a qualified rav with the necesary knowledge about koshrus to make such a decision – Dude May 23 '16 at 18:16
  • You don't need smicha to determine whether or not companies can add things to food without us knowing what they are. That information is readily available on the FDA website. The next question is whether or not flavorings are edible. If they aren't, then they belong in a different halakhic category, and may be kosher by default, regardless of where the flavoring comes from. – Aaron May 23 '16 at 18:39
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    You're right. i am just some guy on the internet. However, Rabbi Abadi is not: kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=6890&highlight= , kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=13403&highlight= , kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=8108&highlight= – Aaron May 23 '16 at 19:16
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    Is there a point in there? Otherwise all I see is that everything has to be declared, including flavorings? However they aren't required to say the composition of the flavoring, and as I've said earlier, the composition might not matter halakhically. We aren't asking if the FDA is in charge of kasbrut, but one of your answers from crc implied that companies could add things without listing them – Aaron May 24 '16 at 5:02

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