Jewish Food

Caffeinating While Kosher: Introducing the Starbucks Trayf-o-Meter

Because one man’s trayf is another man’s Tazo Green Tea Creme Frappuccino Read More

By / July 9, 2012
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Uri Ort is single, kosher, and heavily caffeinated.

In the New York Times this weekend, Mark Oppenheimer profiled Ort, the 26-year-old behind the website KosherStarbucks.com, which is exactly what it sounds like: a Starbucks trayf-o-meter.

Ort used to be a Dunkin Donuts guy, until a trip to Israel introduced him to the world of strong coffee (sounds like we stayed in the same Bedouin tent). America may run on Dunkin, but Israel evidently does not. Soon addicted to the Seattle-based coffee overlord’s offerings, Ort started the site in 2007 with his brother to keep track of what kosher-keeping Jews could and could not imbibe.

It’s more complicated than you may think. Oppenheimer explains:

Coffee beans and hot water are kosher: they do not run afoul of the biblical prohibitions against foods like pork and shellfish. But Starbucks does offer such items, for instance, breakfast sandwiches with ham. And the carafes, knives and other implements can commingle in Starbucks sinks and washing machines, which means particles from, say, a nonkosher smoothie mix can contaminate a spoon used to skim the foam off a latte.

The site uses the basic, if not very Jewish, green and red color-coded system as a guideline for consumers. Sadly, every single Frappucino is marked red (If only this was around in time to save Zoolander’s male models). The surprise kosher item on the Starbucks menu? The festive Eggnog Latte (though Ort recommends you check the eggnog certification). Here’s a sampling of Ort’s findings:

Guzzle away: Iced Coffee, Cappuccino, Caffe Misto, Cold Apple Juice (children’s menu), Espresso, all Tazo tea varieties, Orange Mango Vivanno Smoothie (protein power NOT recommended), Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Latte (so you can fit in around Christmas).

Trayf alert: Frappucinos (that includes fan favorites Caramel, Java Chip, Peppermint Mocha, and even Pumpkin Spice), Strawberry Vivanno Smoothie, White Hot Chocolate, Caramel Macchiato, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Skinny Caramel Macchiato.

So go forth, kosher-keeping brethren, and patronize your local Starbucks chain. Just stay away from the Frappucinos (you’ll thank us later).

(Art by Margarita Korol)

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