Are you a kosher-keeping Starbucks fan wondering if their almond milk is safe to consume?
With conflicting information and recent changes in kosher certification, it can be hard to know what’s truly kosher at the coffee giant.
In this article, we’ll dive into the current status of Starbucks almond milk and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Whether you’re a regular customer or just looking for a treat while traveling, read on to learn more about the kosher options at Starbucks.
Is Starbucks Almond Milk Kosher?
The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. Starbucks almond milk does not have a hechsher, or kosher certification, but that does not necessarily mean it is not kosher.
According to Jewish law, a product can be considered kosher if all of its ingredients are kosher. In the case of Starbucks almond milk, the ingredients listed on their website are: almondmilk (water, almonds), sugar, tricalcium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D2.
None of these ingredients are inherently non-kosher, but there is always the possibility of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.
It’s important to note that the Star-K kosher certification program recently dropped drinks with syrups, sauces, toppings, powders, soy or almond milk from their acceptable consumption list after Starbucks ended their expanded kosher certification program with the company. However, Americanos, espressos, cold brew coffee and iced lattes remain on Star-K’s kosher list.
What Is Kosher Certification?
Kosher certification is the process by which a food or beverage product is deemed to be in compliance with Jewish dietary laws. These laws, known as kashrut, dictate what foods are allowed to be consumed by observant Jews.
To receive kosher certification, a company must undergo a rigorous inspection process by a kosher certifying agency. This includes an examination of the ingredients and manufacturing process to ensure that no non-kosher ingredients or equipment are used.
Once a product is deemed to be in compliance with kashrut, it is given a hechsher, or kosher certification symbol, which can be found on the packaging.
It’s important to note that not all kosher certifying agencies have the same standards, so a product that is certified kosher by one agency may not be considered kosher by another. Additionally, some products may be considered kosher without having a hechsher if all of their ingredients are known to be kosher and there is no possibility of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.
In the case of Starbucks almond milk, while it does not have a hechsher, it may still be considered kosher if all of its ingredients are kosher and there is no cross-contamination during manufacturing. However, observant Jews should always consult with their rabbi or a trusted kosher certifying agency before consuming any product without a hechsher.
Starbucks And Kosher Certification
Starbucks has had a complicated relationship with kosher certification. In 2011, Rav Moshe Heinemann Shlit”a, STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator, suggested that consumers should avoid buying drinks prepared with equipment that may have been washed with treif equipment. This created a difficult situation for kosher-observant Starbucks customers, as many of the flavored items previously listed were no longer certified as kosher.
In late 2015, Starbucks teamed up with Star-K to create a compliance program, but the coffee giant ended the expanded kosher certification program with the Baltimore-based company in 2018. This led to Star-K dropping many drinks from their acceptable consumption list, including those with syrups, sauces, toppings, powders, soy or almond milk. However, Americanos, espressos, cold brew coffee and iced lattes remain on Star-K’s kosher list.
It’s worth noting that the OU does not certify any of the Starbucks franchise stores. This means that customers should always check for kosher certification before consuming any Starbucks product. Additionally, whipped cream found in most Starbucks stores is made from heavy cream (Cholov Stam) and vanilla syrup that carry a reliable Kosher certification. However, consumers must first verify its kosher status by checking the original containers for a reliable kosher symbol before adding it to their drink.
The History Of Starbucks Almond Milk
Starbucks began using almond milk as a non-dairy alternative in their stores in 2016. The brand they use is Califia Farms Unsweetened Barista Blend Almond Milk, which is free of soy, dairy, and gluten. It is also non-GMO, vegan, and kosher.
Initially, Starbucks almond milk had a hechsher from the Orthodox Union (OU), but in 2017, the company decided to end their expanded kosher information program with Star-K. This caused confusion among some Jewish consumers who were unsure if the almond milk was still considered kosher.
However, as mentioned earlier, a hechsher is not what makes a product kosher – it’s the ingredients themselves. Starbucks almond milk continues to be considered kosher by many Jewish authorities, including the Star-K and the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC).
It’s important to note that while Starbucks almond milk may be considered kosher, there is still a risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process. As such, those who keep strictly kosher may choose to avoid it or only consume it in certain circumstances.
The Current Status Of Starbucks Almond Milk
Starbucks mainly uses Califia Farms Unsweetened Barista Blend Almond Milk, which is a popular and widely recognized brand of almond milk. This particular almond milk is free of soy, dairy, and gluten, making it a good option for those with dietary restrictions. It is also non-GMO, vegan, and does not contain the emulsifier carrageenan.
However, Starbucks almond milk does contain sugar and is low in protein. If you are looking for a non-dairy milk with higher protein content and less sugar, you may want to consider soy milk or coconut milk instead.
It’s worth noting that while Starbucks almond milk does not have a hechsher, it is still possible for it to be considered kosher if all of its ingredients are kosher and there is no cross-contamination during the manufacturing process. It’s always best to consult with a trusted rabbi or kosher certification agency to determine whether or not a product is truly kosher.
How To Determine If A Starbucks Drink Is Kosher
Determining whether a Starbucks drink is kosher can be a bit tricky, but there are some guidelines to follow. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that while Starbucks does not have an official kosher certification, many of their products and ingredients are actually kosher-certified by reputable organizations.
To determine if a specific drink is kosher, the first step is to check the ingredients list. If all of the ingredients are kosher, then the drink is considered kosher as well. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even if all of the ingredients are kosher, there is still the possibility of cross-contamination during the preparation process.
Another important factor to consider is the equipment used to prepare the drink. According to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann of the Star-K certification program, Starbucks stores serve hot treif meat and cheese, which means that any equipment used to prepare those non-kosher items could potentially come into contact with kosher items like coffee or milk.
To avoid this issue, Rabbi Heinemann suggests avoiding drinks prepared with equipment that may have been washed with treif equipment. Instead, opt for drinks that are prepared without any contact with questionable equipment. For example, Americanos, espressos, cold brew coffee and iced lattes are all on Star-K’s kosher list because they are prepared without any questionable equipment.
It’s also worth noting that some Starbucks locations offer chalav Yisrael milk, which is milk that has been supervised by a rabbi throughout the entire milking process. While this may seem like a good option for those who keep chalav Yisrael, it’s important to remember that the kashrus status of the equipment used to prepare the drinks is still unknown.
Other Kosher Options At Starbucks
If you’re looking for other kosher options at Starbucks, there are a few drinks that are prepared without any contact with questionable equipment and are acceptable at any store. These drinks include:
1. Americano: This is a simple espresso-based drink made with hot water. It does not contain any milk or dairy products, making it a safe option for those who keep kosher.
2. Espresso: Espresso shots can be enjoyed on their own or used as a base for other drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. As long as the shot divider is removed, espresso can be considered kosher.
3. Cold Brew Coffee: Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time. It is typically served over ice and can be enjoyed black or with added milk or sweetener.
4. Iced Lattes: As mentioned earlier, an Iced Grande Soy Latte, with the shot divider removed, is a safe option for those who keep kosher. However, it’s important to note that other flavored iced lattes may not be kosher due to the syrups used.
It’s always best to double-check with the barista and ask about their equipment cleaning processes to ensure that your drink is prepared in a kosher manner. And if you’re traveling and no other viable kosher certified coffee option is readily available, the Psak of the Noda B’Yehuda quoted in Yad Ephraim, Y.D. 122-6, D’H’ Shelo’ allows for some leniency in difficult situations.