In the late 1980's Starbucks first began expanding out of their home base in Seattle, and the coffee world has not been the same ever since. Starbucks changed coffee-drinking from a personal pleasure into a social and cultural experience. Ever since there have been questions as to exactly what a kosher consumer can drink at a Starbucks store.
Most kosher consumers first approached the question with the simple principle of "you can buy black coffee anyplace". They started to question this principle when they realized that the stores sell items as varied and unexpected as Cinnamon Dolce Creme Frappuccino, Espresso Macchiato, and Caramel Brulee Latte, and they became downright concerned when the chain introduced hot sandwiches such as "Turkey & Swiss Cheese" and "Chicken Santa Fe Panini". No longer was this a simple coffee shop, and it became clear that unless a given store was kosher certified, the consumer would have to be selective about what they could drink.
As said, Starbucks shops serve many kosher and non-kosher items, with the most serious non-kosher item being hot meat sandwiches. The standard daily clean-up at Starbucks includes a hot wash of all utensils and some parts of that washing are done without soap. This clean up process significantly challenges the kosher status of the otherwise kosher products and each product must be judged by a competent halachic authority. The cRc has made available their detailed review and analysis of this topic in the spring 2011 edition of The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and that article can be found below. Click here to read this article.
The good news is that there are many Starbucks locations that do not serve hot meat sandwiches. These are generally the Starbucks kiosks that can be found in airports, supermarkets, etc., and at these locations the cRc is comfortable recommending any drink made from kosher ingredients (even though some others use ingredients that may not be kosher).
This list is accurate at this time for stores in the United States based on two and a half years of extensive research and consultation with the cRc's Av Beth Din, Rav Schwartz, shlit"a. It does not address toppings and other items added to beverages. This information may or may not apply to other coffee houses and stores that provide coffee to the kosher consumer. Please contact our office for more information regarding these venues.
The information on this list is subject to change.
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