As you may have read in our tweets or app, finding packaged coffee at a supermarket that is NOT Kosher-Certified is extremely challenging. Using the KosChertified? app certainly helps, but at present we have still not provided enough alternate sources for our own satisfaction. It is our aim to expand our database in the future.
When not brewing your own coffee, heading to the local coffee shop has become quite the social and cultural activity. Not only have these small shops become a place to grab a pastry and sip a latte, but they also have become meeting grounds for small businesses.
With all the hype on these shops, we decided to inquire as to their levels of kosher-certification, and here is what we found on the four in our focus:
Let’s begin with the big one – Starbucks. We contacted their reps and they replied that “All our coffees including those used in the stores are certified kosher by Orthodox Union. The stores are not certified kosher.” Okay, for those newbies to kosher-certification, local agencies can actually inspect and supervise over a particular store and grant it a certificate that hangs in a prominent place, like where you’d see the regulated inspection grade. So as far as Starbucks goes, their stores are not certified, but all of their coffee is.
Next we spoke with a rep from Dunkin’ Donuts. They have one company producing the pre-packaged coffee and another operating the shops. J.M. Smucker produces and distributes Dunkin’ Donuts pre-packaged coffee through retail grocery stores. They assured us that all of this bagged coffee is certified by Orthodox Union. In case you were wondering where the kosher seals are, they tell us that you can locate it on the front label bottom right corner. Look for the circled U. We contacted those in charge of shops, and they explained to us that all the coffee served to customers is certified kosher. As for the stores being under supervision, they do have some. They let us know that the Dunkin’ Donuts shops in New York and Maryland, due to the demographics there, are certified kosher (in addition to the coffee).
Next we have the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Their customer service team was pleased to let us know that “all of the products sold in our stores are certified kosher and they are regulated by Kosher LA. All of the items in our stores and what our company produces is certified kosher with the exception of fresh food items during rabbinical holidays. All of our company owned stores in California are all certified kosher environments but our locations in Arizona and franchise locations are not.”
Lastly we have Peet’s Coffee. Their answer was a bit more simple. At Peet’s, if the coffee comes from a sealed bag, it’s kosher-certified. So that would mainly cover the packaged coffee you’d buy and take home. However, “the coffee [served] in our stores is not kosher because the coffee does not come from sealed bags.” Also, their stores are not given any extra kashrus attention as with two of the other chain stores.
Well, we hope this initial glance into coffee shops has given you further notice on how prevalent the kosher-certification industry is, and how difficult it might be to avoid (if you weren’t a kosher-keeper). We will certainly examine the status of other popular stores in future blogs. For now, go out and “Exercise Your Dietary Free Will”!