Mar 20, 2010

Ugh. Starbucks Kosher Confusion.

I know, I know -- Ask your local Orthodox rabbi. But I like to get a feel from my readership how they roll, and I know plenty of my readers have smichah, so why not?

Here's the deal: Monday is free pastry day at Starbucks, and me being Jewish and a lover of sweets and free things and pastries and Starbucks, I want to take part. The problem? I'm getting some seriously mixed signals about kosher pastries at Starbucks! Let's begin.

The OU website says that the following Baked Goods and Mixes are kosher:

Lemon Poppyseed T & S Muffin
Blueberry T & Muffin
Cranberry Orange T & S Muffin
LF Blueberry T & S Muffin
LF Cranberry Orange T & S Muffin
Carrot T & S Muffin
Carrot Zucchini T & S Muffin
Raisin Bran T & S Muffin
Chocolate Creme Cake Base
Muffin Base Mix Starbucks
Scone Base Mix Starbucks

Okay, now that that's done, KosherStarbucks.com tells me that "Majority of the pastries at Starbucks are not kosher. In some Starbucks stores the bagels are under the OU, and the original packaging should be checked for a certification." This notice is followed by a bunch of pre-packaged items that do contain the OU label.

I know that for many, it's that these baked goods are placed in a display case that holds other, questionable items (you know, like that bacon/egg/cheese muffin), so asking an employee for a fresh item from the back is always an option. But is that really an option? Are there any pastries at Starbucks I can freely ask for?

Agh! I need a too-many-calories and way-high-fat muffin! Stat! It's free, you know.

11 comments:

Gruven Reuven said...

coffee is fine, but I wouldn't eat anything at starbucks unless its sealed and has a proper hechshire

mekubal said...

My own take on this is based on the writing of Rav Ovadiah Yosef, which would essentially be to follow the list given by the OU. If you want to be more machmir that is fine, but on a very basic level you need to rely on the Rabbanim that converted you(RCA) and their Kosher branch(the OU). If they are saying on their website that you can eat those items you can.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of room for stringency. My own Rosh Yeshiva won't even drink the coffee there when he travels to the US, based on the fact that they use none Chalav Yisrael milk in the stores and all of the equipment is washed together in what constitutes boiling water...

However, from a stam halacha is it kosher perspective you should be able to reasonably rely on the OU for guidance.

merchant services said...

The Kosherstarbucks.com is a pretty decent resource. Hashgacha is a tough business and it's constantly changing so what was good today may not be good tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

No one orthodox in the UK would drink cofffee from Starbucks because it's not cholov yisroel.

in the uk the understanding is r'moishe said regular milk is ok, IF you are unable to obtain cholov yisroel, OR you can't afford it.

to just stam drink starbucks coffee doesn't fall into either catagory

not sure about the food though....

le7 said...

My main question is, are they saying the mixes that are used are kosher? That's cool - but where are they prepared and baked = cholov yisroel/non-cholov-yisroel aside.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

My Orthodox colleague is too nervous to eat anything from Starbucks, regardless of what she reads online... perhaps because of the plates they're on & the utensils they're served with? I don't know... but man, their new cupcakes are delicious.

Tuvia said...

Le7 I believe that all the packages, post baking, bare the OU. My main concern is how they are treating it after they open the package.

My thought is if you need one, go at an off peak hour, and ask if they would mind getting a fresh package from the back to open.

Seth said...

Anonymous, that's not what R' Moshe said. Chaviva, I just went to Starbucks and discovered that they don't have basically any of the items on the OU list. At least not by those names. For example, the Blueberry T&S Muffin is now called the Blueberry Struessel Muffin. Incidentally, nothing they carried had T&S in its name (the staff had no idea what that meant or stood for). And the packages they come in do not bear an OU. The only item that had an OUD on the package was the Butter Croissant. And it was delicious - much, much better than I had expected (I've never much been a croissant person, though I have had 2 in the past 2 weeks; perhaps I'm beginning to change in that regard).

I think KosherStarbucks.com may just be more up to date than that OU list. Shame that the rest of the list doesn't seem to be sold anymore - and that the new equivalent things don't seem to have a Hechsher.

If someone can tell me what T&S stands for, by the way, I'd love to know.

Seth J

Anonymous said...

I used to work there. They usually keep all the pastries in packages frozen until they plate it and let it defrost in the back. You could probably ask them to see the frozen package but for me personally I wouldn't eat the pastries there since so many unkosher things share those same plates and then are washed all together in giant sinks (including whatever utensils were used for the non-kosher drink additives and those sandwich wraps.) I know that taste can't be transferred on cold things but I don't know... I wouldn't do it. You never know if an employee is being truly scrupulous at that sink.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I forgot to respond to your question about asking for a fresh item. Most of the time you can't do that because unless they are down to the last of their pastries and have some defrosting in the back the pastries are kept frozen and sealed in the freezer.

Klugy said...

www.kosherstarbucks.com now allows many more of the pastries... at least if your on the "kosher by ingredients" list which is good enough for me!

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