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There is a coffee machine (also makes tea and hot chocolate) in my workplace that uses individual packets (not pods) for the drinks. I do not know what the mechanism is for turning that into a drink (beyond that hot water is run through the packet) and am not authorized to take the machine apart to look. I imagine there must be something that punctures the packet, like in a Keurig machine; whether that part gets heated in the brewing process is unclear.

The company says that its coffee and tea packets are kosher, but notes that the ones for hot chocolate and latte mix-ins are not. So if none of my coworkers drank cocoa and latte it'd apparently be fine, but that's not the case. I'm aware of this question about Keurig machines, but I don't know if the mechanism is the same so don't know if the answer there would apply to this kind of brewer.

What would I need to do to be able to use this shared device in a kosher manner?

(Of course I'm not seeking p'sak. I just want to know what the issues are -- has anybody already addressed this?)

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It would seem to be problematic based on information from sites such as this http://www.quora.com/How-do-Flavia-machines-work It seems a pipe or needle is poked into each packet to inject the hot water. If that is in fact the case, then that pipe will absorb the flavors from the nonkosher items, either through contact or steam. After which it will mix in with the kosher product.

So although the product is marketed as being dispensed without ever touching the machine, this is only true as far as the drink exiting the machine. How the water enters the packet seems to be a different story.

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    The London B"D inspected the Flavia machines and issued a kashrut certificate for many flavors. Here is the cert for 1/14-12/15: flav.imageg.net/graphics/media/flav/Kosher.pdf To quote: The London Beth Din has inspected the unique Flavia (TM) vending system and based on the fact that all beverages are dispensed directly from their respective sachets, we can confirm that the following vending machines produced by... [Mars Drinks] ... are suitable for use with both Dairy and Pareve beverages. Machines - SB100, S300, S350, C150 C200, C400, FUSION and INNO, BARISTA – dmi_ Nov 3 '15 at 18:59
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    Not sure if the quote above means it can be used after non-kosher flavors, but I think that it implies that it is so. – dmi_ Nov 3 '15 at 19:03
  • I'm not sure you can reach a definitive conclusion based on the information we have. "A probe pokes through the plastic top" doesn't mean it comes into contact with the liquid - it might, it might not. It might not even be exposed to steam if the plastic top is designed to keep the contents of the packet sealed - it might, it might not. Further, even if it absorbed from zaiya (steam) I'm not convinced it would render the next cup unkosher for the simple reason that the spout doesn't emit steam, so it would have no way to make the next cup unkosher unless there was physical contact. – PopularIsn'tRight Nov 4 '16 at 2:34
  • The fact that the LBD (thank you @dmi_) says making dairy drinks doesn't make the next cup dairy lends credence to the idea that making one cup of non-kosher wouldn't make the next cup non-kosher. However, their language is clearly not definite. From the info given so far (and the last 3 hours I spent trying and failing to find more info on how the Flavia machines work) I would certainly say this is "tzarich iyun". – PopularIsn'tRight Nov 4 '16 at 2:36
  • One more cocmment (for now) - there's also the potential issue of irui, which could potentially be more problematic than zeia. Again, tzarich iyun. – PopularIsn'tRight Nov 4 '16 at 2:40
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A comment from dmi_ provided a kashrut certificate from the London Beit Din (expires December 2016) that certifies many of the Flavia drinks, including the dairy ones excluded in the (presumably-older) link in the question. The certificate doesn't explicitly mention the machine and this answer brings up mixing via the steam from prior uses.

I contacted the London Beit Din and asked the following:

First, the certificate doesn't actually specify the machine directly, but as far as I know the only way to use the coffees and teas is with the machine. Do you certify the drinks as used with the Flavia machine, or do you only certify the contents of the packets?

They responded and said that they certify the following Flavia machines: SB100, S300, S350, C150, C200, C400, Fusion & Inno. Further, in response to another question I asked, they said that even if the machine has been used previously with the dairy drinks, that does not affect the parve status of subsequent drinks.

For a practical ruling, of course, consult your rabbi.

  • My workplace recently discontinued the flavors that the manufacturer said weren't kosher, which caused me to revisit this question and see that comment for the first time. – Monica Cellio Aug 18 '16 at 17:56
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I too emailed the LBD a few months ago and never got around to updating here (apologies for the delay on my part). I asked specifically about using the machine after it has been used with a non-certified flavor. They said:

The Flavia drink machines are designed in such a way that the water pours straight into the sachet and from there, straight into the cup. The drink does not come into contact with any part of the machine. You can therefore use the Flavia machine even if it is also used for the non certified flavours.

I asked a followup about the ze'ia issue, but never got a response.

As a side note, the coffee and tea it makes are terrible, so unfortunately this ruling doesn't provide that much practical benefit.

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