Sunday, August 1, 2010

Is Starbucks Kosher?




I am sitting here doing work at my local Starbucks (my way of taking a break from doing work in the library) and what do I find in my research, but a discussion about coffee. Apparently Rabbi David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz), living in sixteenth century Egypt has one of the first references to coffee in halachic literature. He permitted the drinking of coffee, even if it was brewed by gentiles. That being said, he declared:


I do not consent to its being drunk at a meeting place [mesibbah] of non-Jews, for this has some undesirable consequences and the Jews are holy.... And, especially since that beverage has no [pleasing] taste nor odor nor appearance, if it is needed for medicinal purposes one may send for it and have it delivered home. This is done by their leading figures, who would be embarrassed to drink it at such establishment. (Rabbi David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, Responsa 3:637 [Elliot Horowitz, "Coffee, Coffeehouses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry" AJS Review, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Spring, 1989): pg. 22]).


So I guess this is reason to take my latte to go. For information on the kosher status of Starbucks products please see Kosher Starbucks.

4 comments:

Nooch said...

[quote]"I do not consent to its being drunk at a meeting place [mesibbah] of non-Jews, for this has some undesirable consequences and the Jews are holy...." [/quote]

Define mesiba of non- jews.
Do you really think Starbucks is such a place?

[quote]"And, especially since that beverage has no [pleasing] taste nor odor nor appearance, if it is needed for medicinal purposes one may send for it and have it delivered home. This is done by their leading figures, who would be embarrassed to drink it at such establishment. (Rabbi David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, Responsa 3:637)"[/quote]

So can one infer that if the coffee is of pleasing taste, odor and/or appearance,the former comments have no validity?

Izgad said...

Hi Nooch, long time no speak.

I admit that the concept of “gathering of gentiles” is rather open ended and, in theory, could cover practically anything. This is besides for the issue as to what extent such gatherings are forbidden. As I am still sitting here at the Starbucks, I am relying on the fact Starbucks is either not a gathering of gentiles, gathering of gentiles are not necessarily forbidden or I “klap a big mea culpa” in the knowledge that if my big sin in life is my Starbucks habit then I can feel pretty righteous about myself.

Skeptic said...

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1952&st=&pgnum=439

Izgad said...

Thank you. I added the link to the post.