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Updated October 31, 2023
In the late 1980s, 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 Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and that article can be found below. Click here to read this article.
When evaluating these issues, Rav Reiss שליט”א , Av Beis Din of the cRc, acknowledged that there is basis for being lenient on many of the items being sold at Starbucks stores, but directed the cRc to be true to the mission of a reliable Kashrus Agency which only recommends items that are free of all shailos and not those which are only acceptable b’dieved. He noted that this is especially true because there are viable alternatives in every Starbucks store.
One significant change in recent years is that almost all Starbucks stores – even smaller kiosks – serve hot non-kosher sandwiches and wash all utensils in shared sinks (and some also share sinks or dishwashers with nearby non-kosher stores). Accordingly, certain differences which used to apply to kiosks are no longer relevant.
The following list is accurate at this time for stores in the United States and Canada, and since the information is subject to change this list should not be used after August 31, 2024. [The list is limited to beverages and does not address foods sold in Starbucks, or toppings and other items added to beverages.] It is also worth noting that many items sold at Starbucks are dairy and chalav stam, and that many of the “flavors” are now certified as “DE” (dairy equipment).
Click here to see the updated Starbucks list.
Click here to read an article on Starbucks in Ami Magazine, July 19, 2023, featuring Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, cRc Kashrus Administrator.