Jul 14, 2011

Starbucks Dilemma

Moral (sort of) dilemma: I was in Starbucks today getting a beverage and a man in a kippah with a beard walked in with his son, who was probably 8 or 9.

Father: What is that thing that you want?
Son: A double chocolatey chip thing.
Starbucks Girl: Oh! A double chocolate chip frappuccino.
Son: Yeah, that!
Starbucks Girl: Whipped cream?
Son: Yeah!

The man proceeded to order an ice tea (which is fine), but I was perplexed. Didn't he know the frappuccino stopped being kosher last year? When they went from a coffee base to a cream base?

I was tormented. I really wanted to tell him. The guy clearly had zero clue what a frappuccino even was, let alone its kashrut status.

Should I have said something? Or would it have been out of line? Does it not matter because it was a kid?


Ally said...

Yes, you need to tell him. There is a statute in the Torah that translate: "Before the blind do not put a stumbling block." (Vayikra 19:14) Meaning, that you can not cause someone to sin. However, if you know someone is going to sin and you do not remove that "stumbling block" then you have also violated that prohibition. I am by no means passing judgement. However, its an obligation to do so. You can also think of it like this, would you want someone to tell you?

samir said...

Shoulda told him! (Without embarrassing him in front of his son)

Erika Shapiro said...

I am not Orthodox, nor do I keep kosher. But I DO know enough about people in general. Some people find it acceptable to "bend" some rules.

Don't most Kashrut-keeping people go out of their way to know what's okay and what's not okay to eat/drink in most run of the mill places? Isn't it possible he knew but didn't care? Had you mentioned something, you may have gotten a "todah rabah" but you may have also gotten a "mind your own business"… Guess we'll never know!

Ha_Safran said...

Chavi -

Hope I'm not about to burst your bubble with this, but have you seen the cRc's updated kashrut recommendations for Starbucks?


Click on the Starbucks - Detailed Halachic Research link for the PDF.

The frappucino might be the least of the problems.

Wiggy Woo said...

Very interesting - I saw MYOB! Also, first I am hearing that they aren't kosher.

erika said...

I don't think a kippah and a beard are enough evidence to assume his level of kosher observance. I would guess Erika Shapiro is right, if you care, then you already know and take it upon yourself to know. If you don't care, you likely don't know, and would probably not be too keen on your choice to follow ingredient and not hecksher (or maybe even any) kosher rules being even unintentionally judged.

Clearly, if you did say something it would have been with the best of intentions and hopefully he would have taken it that way. But, he also may have gotten upset or embarrassed. I don't think it's wrong to say something, but I don't think it's wrong not to either.

Lily said...

I would not tell him, because by doing so, I am making an assumption about his kosher observance. I have plenty of friends who wear kippot and "eat dairy out", so they would probably have frappuccinos at starbucks even now. They will eat dairy products without a hechsher, so how is this different? I can see the other side of the argument as well, but I personally would rather not potentially embarrass someone or make them feel bad about their kashrus. Would you like it if you ordered something that is fine according to the OU's opinion on kosher at Starbucks, but not according to the cRc and someone came up saying "You know, that's not REALLY kosher, you really shouldn't order it"? You never really know the situation.

Also, if he is going to order the frappuccino anyway, even after knowing it is no longer kosher, then by informing him, isn't that making it so he is essentially knowingly 'sinning', rather than unknowingly before? I'm not totally sure of the halacha here, but I know there's a concept of that it isn't as much of a sin if you aren't consciously aware and making the choice of said sin. You aren't held accountable if someone else serves you treif and you don't find out til afterwards. I'd think maybe it's a similar concept.

In the end, I just don't think it's our place to make such judgments of observance. Starbucks does not have a hechsher, it has never been under hashgacha, so it already IS an 'at your own risk' establishment when it comes to kashrus.

Unknown said...

you know for sure that it's 100% treif, or just not certified? Maybe he knows that it is kosher - chalav stam - without being certified by an organization.

if someone who looks like a frum Jew is about to order outright treif (something made with animal or insect meat, fat, or blood that isn't kosher - or a dairy product that is known to originate from a non-kosher animal) then you might have an obligation to tell the guy.

This doesn't sound like that kind of case. It's probable that all of the ingredients are kosher (again, chalav stam) and that no halachic violation would incur from drinking said beverage.

Normative halachic policy is to only consume food that is under reliable supervision, (with some exceptions - plain coffee, non-flavored beer, drinks known to be kosher like coke* and pepsi*) However, if "after the fact", no halachic violation would occur, then "do not stand by while your neighbor bleeds" is not in play.

DLP said...

oooooooooh... good question... great responses! I think I'm with Leah Sarah.

H. Ilana Newman said...

It was none of your business to tell him, so you made the right decision by keeping quiet.

It's his own decision what level of kashrut he's keeping, especially since it concerns his own child.

Lullie said...

I would have mentioned something about the list available online of the acceptable items at Starbucks. That way, if he wanted to know more about it, you could maybe sneak in a comment about how you read that the frappuccinos are no longer on that list, without making it sound like you're trying to be pushy. And if he wasn't interested, then maybe that would be a sign to show his kashruth observance wasn't as high as you maybe thought it was. I don't think it would be right to call him out to embarrass him or his son, but to bring it up in a roundabout way probably would have been the most comfortable way.

Ha_Safran said...

According to the cRc website, the Frappucino bases are NOT under any hashgacha and DO contain ingredients which are kashrut-sensitive. So it would seem that the issue is not one of chalav stam, but of actual kashrut.

Additionally, the OU website has a psak halacha dating back to 2007 stating that Frappucinos are not recommended (though, there they base it on being made in kailim used for other non-kosher items as well).

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

I'm really ... REALLY going to have to think about this. I just can't see how I could have tactfully said something to this guy without making him feel like a total schmuck.

What about the commandment not to embarrass someone? I mean, we can't WEIGH mitzvot.

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the CRC opinion... I'm pretty sure the creme based fraps are the ones that are more reccomended than the coffee based ones...

And I think that its none of your business to tell him. The frappachinos may not be recommended but its not like he is ordering something that has hidden pork in it. I think its generally accepted practice amongst orthodox jews that some get all starbucks drinks, some get a few, and some get none. Just because you decided based on what you have heard that this drink is not kosher does not mean that he received a similar response when he looked into it.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Anonymous Actually the coffee base was fine, the cream base made it not fine.

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