What are the halachic considerations that govern the kashrut status of an Americano (black) from an espresso machine that uses a secondary steam wand to make lattes and cappuccinos? This is at a kosher dairy cafe.

Is it permissible to drink this coffee (at home) with a fleishig meal?

  • Does the milk (for lattes, etc.) pass through the same pipe as the one used for making the Americano? If so, it depends if the milk that passes through the pipe is heated to a level of yad soledet bo. – Cauthon Feb 9 '16 at 21:33
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    @caut It'd still only be nat bar nat, assuming no intervening coffee effectively kashered it. As long as you don't put chicken literally into your coffee you should be fine. Disclaimer: I don't drink coffee and have only the vaguest idea how these machines work. – Double AA Feb 9 '16 at 21:48
  • I'll see if I can locate the CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council) article that indirectly addresses your question when it discusses Starbucks. IIRC, it is pretty much as @Cauthon suggests. Th esteaming nozzle doesn't absorb any milk into th emachine. It just shoots steam into the cup of milk. I don't think milk "vapors" in this case are sufficient to make any other parts of the machine dairy. Thus, I believe all Plain Starbucks Espresso is parve. – DanF Feb 9 '16 at 21:57
  • @DoubleAA Wouldn't nat bar nat still be a problem for Ashkenazim lechatchila? If, however, the milk doesn't pass through the same pipe (or it doesn't get hot enough), then there really is no problem (as suggested here). – Cauthon Feb 9 '16 at 21:59
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    @Cauthon, my understanding of the mechanics is that milk doesn't get sucked into the machine, but is heated up externally. In most cases, at least. I do know one café that has a smaller espresso machine that actually does suck the milk through a plastic tube and heats it internally, so that may be a consideration if it's a smaller shop. Larger shops tend to have more professional-grade espresso machines, though, which have an external steamer. IIRC, the CRC article that DanF referenced says that, at Starbucks at least, NB"N is alleviated by Pagum when the steamer is cleaned between cups. – Seth J Feb 9 '16 at 22:22

This article has explanations and diagrams for a typical espresso machine. All the ones with the steam wand work similarly, as far as I know.

The steam wand is used to heat and froth milk for use in various espresso drinks. This wand is connected to the heating vessel. When the user puts the valve in the steam position, steam from the heating vessel is released out of the wand and into the milk.

Regarding the heating vessel (or in the article, it is called a "heating chamber". I believe they mean the same thing.) it says:

The heating chamber also contains a one-way valve that lets water into the chamber from the pump, but not back into the pump from the chamber.

So, it seems like steam only gets forced out of the nozzle and no milk goes into the nozzle back into the machine. Also, from the diagram, you can see that the steam nozzle is not connected to the part of the machine that makes the espresso.

Verify with your rav, of course. But, as far as I can tell, it seems parve. Of course, easiest thing to do since you're at the café is to ask someone reliable, there. You said it's a kosher café. Is there no mashgiach there or a supervising agency?

  • Yes, it's a kosher cafe, and I will, B'H speak with the mashgiach about the particulars of that machine and make note of his response here. – Benjamin G Feb 9 '16 at 22:35
  • How is this different from YD 92:8? The milk becomes steamy, right? – Double AA Feb 9 '16 at 22:37
  • @BenjaminG I'd be curious if he tells you that it's dairy. As far as I can tell, based on the description above, there isn't even a concern about "dairy equipment". – DanF Feb 9 '16 at 22:38
  • @DoubleAA Based on the diagram and from what I have seen of these machines myself, the nozzle is very small and is a very tightly sealed unit. It seems that the steam pressure coming out of the nozzle is so strong that even when the nozzle tip is immersed in the milk it doesn't appear that any milk would likely be forced even into any part of the nozzle, let alone be sucked up into any part of the machine. – DanF Feb 9 '16 at 22:49

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