The halacha is if one takes a vegetable etc and cooks it the beracha
on the water is the same beracha as the vegetable, etc.1 Therefore,
the beracha on coffee should be an ha’etz. However, the custom is that
the beracha recited on coffee (in the liquid state) is shehakol.2 Some
say the reason is because the water is the main ingredient.3
- Mesechtas Berochos 39a, Shulchan Aruch 205:1.
- Halachos Ketanos 1:9, Shevus Yaakov 2:5, Birchei Yosef 202:9, Ben Ish Chai Pinchus 1:10, Be’er Heitiv 202:19, Sheilas Yaavetz 2:142,
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 53:3, Kaf Ha’chaim 202:70, Pachad Yitzchok
(Cofffee) 7:page 60, Rivevos Ephraim 5:148, Yalkut Yosef 3:page
338:14, Chazzon Ovadia (Tu B’shevat) pages 282-283, Piskei Teshuvos
202:28, Rivevos Ephraim 6:79, Sharei Ha’beracha 17:44 and pages
680-681:footnote 654. If one recited ha’etz he was yotzei (Opinion of
the Yabea Omer quoted in Yalkut Yosef ibid page 339, see V’sein
Beracha page 450:footnote 21 who says this is not true for instant
coffee). See Panim M’eros 1:95, 190. Refer to Pnei Ha’shulchan pages
- Refer to Pnei Ha’shulchan page 179, see Shulchan Aruch Harav 202:12,
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 53:3, Yechaveh Da’as 4:42.
If memory serves, I believe Rav Moshe Feinstein, z"l, wrote something similar.
See also: http://www.halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Bracha_on_Coffee_and_Tea
The Rosh writes that this Halacha of the Gemarah is not an absolute rule. The water does not always take the identity of the vegetable itself, and in some cases the Berachah on the water would remain a Shehakol. Rosh explains that the water will only acquire a new Berachah-identity if, and only if, one is cooking the soup in order to eat the vegetables also. It is then that the water can be viewed as being one with the vegetables and allow it to be viewed as having become part of the “greater soup”. It is in such a case that the Berachah will be the same as the vegetable itself. However, if one is only cooking the vegetable so that the water should be infused with its taste, and not because he also wants to eat the vegetables, then he would only recite a Shehakol on the water as the water retains its own identity, albeit with a better taste; it’s just a cup of flavored water.
Perach Mateh Aharon writes that it is based on the reasoning of
the Rosh that we recite a Shehakol on coffee, tea and even beer
because the tea leaves are not being eaten, the coffee grinds are
definitely going to be thrown out and nary a hop will ever be found in
a bottle of beer. The whole intention of the cooking process in solely
for the resultant drink and not for the tea leaves, beans and hops at
all. So while it is true that the tea leaf and the coffee bean and the
hops are boiled in the water, and it is true that from the simple
understanding of the Gemarah the water should have required an
upgraded berachah. However, when you apply the Rosh’s qualification of
this Halachah it allows for, and even encourages, the general custom
to recite a Shehakol on a nice steaming cup of a morning Starbucks
coffee(see footnote) as one is only focused on the drink itself
and not anything else. On the other hand, the Panim Meiros counters
that tea and coffee are in a different class when it comes to this
Halachah. Tea leaves and coffee are planted, cultivated, roasted and
ground in order to produce this drink. This is the end result and the
bottom line for the tea and coffee; it was produced for just this
purpose and is only edible in this state. So, of course the water in
which the coffee/tea was boiled will take on a greater significance
than just being flavored water, whereupon it will take upon itself the
berachah of the tea leaf or the coffee bean, as this is what they were
The Panim Meiros has put forth a seemingly strong halachic argument
and brought many proofs to support his case. However, he ends off
his responsa by stating that the beracha on coffee and tea still
remains a Shehakol as this has been the minhag of the Jews for as long
as he can remember and the minhag is not going to change, therefore,
he too only recited a Shehakol on coffee and tea. In addition, many of
the gedolim of his era, such as the Beis Meir, and the Shvus
Yaakovdiffered with the Panim Meiros’ understanding of the Rosh
and were of the opinion that the correct berachah on these beverages
are a Shehakol.
- Shaalos U’Teshuvos HaRosh Klal 4, siman 15. Also in the Rosh’s Halachos in Masechta Berachos on Daf 39a.
- Rav Aharon Hakohen Perachia (1627-1697). Wrote the Sefer- Perech Mateh Aharon, appointed chief rabbi of Salonika in 1688.
- This is referring to home-brewed Starbucks coffee. As of late there has been much written about the kashrus of the general Starbucks stores since that they have started to serve non kosher, indeed treif, heated items in their stores. Although the unflavored, and some of the flavored, ground coffee is under a very reliable hashgacha, the treif elements of the store might affect the kashrus of various special drinks the stores have to offer. For an excellent overview of the kashrus concerns and solutions see their article 1. The Star-K kashrus organization have also published their recommendations and guide to Starbucks coffee is the latest issue of their “Kashrus kurrents” publication. You can view it at their website www.star-k.org.
- See Panim Meiros chelek 2, Siman 190 for an extensive Torah essay on this subject.
- Beit Meir 205:2
- Shevut Yacov 2:5