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Nissan 5763 – Coffee & Starbucks

1 Nissan 5763

L’chvod HaRav,

I recently got into a discussion about something I took upon myself and the person said that it was a Chumrah I shouldn’t have started. The issue is that I don’t go to Starbucks because there are problems with the hechsherim of flavored coffees. I’m concerned that someone might see me in a shop and assume that I was having a one, rather than a just a plain coffee.
Also, since I’m a teacher in a day school, I thought there might be a problem withMaras Ayin–since many people in the community probably think there’s nothing wrong with ordering any kind of drink there. Was I wrong?
Another related question — is a person is allowed to go into a McDonald’s or other non-kosher restaurant to use the bathroom?
Thank you so much for your help!

Sincerely,
Name and Seminary Witheld by Request

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Thank you for your questions.

Regarding going into Starbuck’s, I really can’t tell you that this is an unnecessary “Chumrah”. I think that you are right in avoiding going in, and this displays a sensitivity towards Mitzvos and others in your community who unfortunately don’t know as much as yourself regarding Kashrus.

By the way, the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch (38:12) states that a “Shomer Nafsho” should not drink coffee made by a non-Jew because of Bishul Akum, and even if one wishes to be lenient Derech Arai – “in a temporary fashion”- (e.g. while on the road), there is no Hetter to do so Derech Keva- “on a regular basis”. To the best of my knowledge, Starbuck’s are not careful regarding Bishul Akum, and therefore it would not be Halachically proper to regularly go there and order even what you are certain is Kosher coffee.

It is important to note that many of the flavors used is coffee can have serious Kashrus problems, and a person should not purchase any flavored coffee anywhere without reliable certification. A person should not rely on “word of mouth” or the fact that “everyone buys this flavor”.

A person may go into McDonald’s etc. to use the rest room if they are travelling, as it is well known that people will go in to use the rest room or even just to purchase a Kosher soft drink or coffee while they are traveling (as above, “in a temporary fashion”). I believe that regarding this McDonald’s would be different from Starbuck’s, since most of the coffee they sell is regular or decaf Kosher from urns designated specifically for coffee, and even if they do have other flavored coffees available, it isn’t likely that people will jump to the conclusion by watching you that the other flavors are Kosher also. In Starbuck’s, most people primarily buy flavored coffee.

Take care,

Rabbi Aaron Tendler