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Many hotels have coffee machines in the rooms. They also usually provide the necessary ingredients, such as disposable filters and coffee grinds.

What are the potential problems with using such a coffee machine? If there are problems, is there anything that can be done to make it usable?

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From the Star K website:

Coffeemaker in Room -Many hotel rooms provide a coffeemaker and kosher coffee; however, it is suggested that one should not use the coffeemaker. Although most people who stay in hotels do not pack food to heat up in the carafe (this is generally a kosher traveler phenomenon), it is still possible that it was used for non-kosher products. Therefore, it is recommended that one refrain from using the carafe.

Some hotels now have coffeemakers without carafes. The hotel provides individual hot cups into which the coffee drips. The machine is used for coffee only and, therefore, one may make coffee in this type of machine.*

*. Even if the machine was used previously for non-certified coffee, it may be used by the kosher traveler for kosher coffee. Kashrus concerns relating to coffee are such that one who is traveling on the road may be more lenient in this regard.

  • I recently stayed in a cabin that provided a small electric drip coffee machine with a glass coffee pot. I'm assuming that the term "carafe" implies ceramic, but I'm not sure if that's right. Either way, aren't glass pots less of a problem b/c glass is non-porous? – DanF Aug 20 '14 at 2:41
  • What about people who cook in coffee makers? – Scimonster Aug 20 '14 at 7:30
  • @DanF in my experience the word carafe doesn't imply ceramic, and the glass thingy used in a drip coffeemaker is called a carafe. – msh210 Aug 21 '14 at 6:09
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Often, (unless the hotel is at 100% capacity), arriving guests are given a room that was not occupied the previous night. It's highly unusual that anyone would cook food inside the carafe. Even if they did, if it hasn't been used in 24 hours, any leftover taste is considered to damage food/drink, and is thus permitted.

Yoreh Deah 122 teaches the rule of "eino ben yomo" (not used in 24 hours). It rules there that a vessel which certainly cooked nonkosher food in the past, should still not be used. This stricture is a rabbinic enactment, lest someone use a pot he thought was "eino ben yomo", but it turns out it was actually "ben yomo". (used within the last 24 hours).

In our case, we are dealing with a vessel that probably didn't cook anything but coffee. Therefore, the rabbinic stricture of not using an "eino ben yomo" doesn't apply, since it only applies to vessels which certainly cooked nonkosher food.

The Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC) also rules along these lines.

  • I don't agree with your 1st sentence as a general or majority statement when you are dealing with major cities or major tourist spots and peak season. Most hotels in the Hamptons & Niagra Falls for example are booked each night during the summer, and most hotels near big ski resorts are booked nightly during the winter. In such cases, chances are high that someone used the room the night before you came. A separate question may be who cleans the coffee pots before the guest arrives and what other utensils are they cleaned with? That answer may nullify the fact that nothing but coffee is used. – DanF Aug 20 '14 at 12:57
  • I wrote "(unless the hotel is at 100% capacity)". @DanF responded with examples of hotels that are "booked each night": i.e., at 100% capacity. I worked in the hotel industry for many years, I know how hotels run. If you have to wait in the lobby because the room is still being cleaned, that's a good sign that someone used the room the previous night. If you check in early, or if you are offered a choice of rooms options at the front desk, that's a good sign that the room was not occupied the previous night. – Jake Aug 20 '14 at 13:12
  • In any case, it's easier to check-in new guests to a room that wasn't used the previous night, because then the front desk can be assured that it's ready for the arriving guest. When a hotel is at 100% capacity, the front desk has to check with housekeeping, to make sure that your room has already been cleaned, before they can scan a new key for you. – Jake Aug 20 '14 at 13:14
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    My bad - I misread the parentheses - I sometimes talk in parentheses also, that's why people have troble hearing me :-) (here's more parentheses). Since you have hotel industry knowledge, would you know how the coffee pots are cleaned? Are they cleaned with other traif dishes in the hotel kitchen (if there is one) or does the maid rinse it in the bathroom sink? For that matter, what about coffee served as part of the "free breakfast" in some hotels / motels? – DanF Aug 20 '14 at 13:25
  • @DanF General in-room coffee info: makegoodcoffee.com/coffee-talk/… As for kashrus questions: the in-room coffee machine never leaves the room. All dishes in the lobby, bar, dining room, are washed together in gigantic commercial dishwashing machines. The coffee urn in the dining room typically has only ever held coffee or hot water. Health laws mandate that the knife used for fruit isn't used for other foods, so I drink coffee from a glass, and eat cut fruit, boxed cereal with milk (chalav stam, obviously). – Jake Aug 20 '14 at 13:40

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