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Is there a legitimate heter for drinking coffee from a coffee cup that would most likely have been washed with non-kosher utensils? I have seen people be lenient in this respect, but don't know why.

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Yes, lechatchila this should be avoided (according to some, lest the following two assumptions don't actually hold in this case), however it is generally allowed (to most sources that I found) because the soap "פוגם" any piece of food (i.e. makes it inedible), and secondly, people do not wash dishes with boiling water (and therefore the taste is not "swallowed" by the dish).

Sources:

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    In the end though it's a chashash derabanan bc the cup is probably eino ben yomo. Plus glazed coffee mugs may have a din of glass (non-absorbent). – Double AA Feb 4 '16 at 18:06
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    @DoubleAA That kula is probably not true by coffee mugs which are typically used daily, and therefore, more often than not, are being used less than 24 hrs. since they were last potentially absorbing/in contact with food. – Loewian Feb 4 '16 at 18:11
  • @Loewian There's still almost certainly Linat Layla. And I don't know about your claim anyway. This sounds like the kinda place where there are lots of mugs and people just take one. There could totally be a surplus. – Double AA Feb 4 '16 at 18:12
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    @DoubleAA I assume you mean as asnif; please CMIIAW but my understanding is that linat layla is not accepted l'halacha. I suppose we have different experience with office kitchens but my assumption is that where there are many mugs, there are many people, and many coffee breaks. Not to mention that often the meikil has a sense when it was last washed, so relying on general rules wouldn't make sense. – Loewian Feb 4 '16 at 18:22
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    Might the cup have come into contact with a boiling water and a tea flavored with non-kosher flavorings? Or would we write-off that possibility, b'dieved, under the theories of batul v'shishim and multiple doubt? – Bruce James Feb 4 '16 at 19:12

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