New York – Ten days after the changeover to exclusively Cholov yisroel products at ten Starbucks locations in the metropolitan New York area, stores are reporting that it is business as usual at the popular chain, with positive feedback coming in from coffee lovers.
Starbucks made the changeover to serving exclusively Pride of the Farm milk, half and half and cream on May 31st at locations in Brooklyn, the Five Towns and the Lakewood area as part of its ongoing commitment to serving locally relevant items.
Whether or not the change will be permanent remains to be seen.
“We often test products to gather feedback from customers and partners,” said a spokesperson for the coffee giant, which operates over 23,500 stores worldwide.
Rabbi Zvi Holland of the Star-K, which certifies the Pride of the Farm milk being used by Starbucks noted that none of the stores are under Star-K supervision, but confirmed that the milk being used at the stores is exclusively cholov yisroel.
“Starbuck was very interested in reaching out to kosher consumers,” Rabbi Holland told TOT News.
“They got wise to the concept of cholov yisroel milk and after working out an arrangement with Pride of the Farm, they came to us.”
The question of drinking coffee at Starbucks is actually a complicated one, observed Rabbi Holland, who suggested that individuals consult their rabbi for further clarification.
The Star-K website only recommends Starbucks Americano, bottled drinks bearing KD supervision, espresso and bagged and loose teas with a reliable hechsher.
Other items that are listed by the Star-K as acceptable only for consumers who are traveling, or from kiosks that do not serve any meat items, include Starbucks plain brewed regular and decaf coffee, cappuccino and hot lattes.
The potential problems with coffee shop coffee arise because many establishments, including Stabucks, also serve non-kosher food and the coffee equipment may be washed in the regular washing systems that are used for non-kosher items.
“It doesn’t make the coffee non-kosher but Rabbi Heinemann feels that it does achieve questionable status,” said Rabbi Holland.
While there are many rabbonim who do allow the use of the regular Starbucks coffee, the Star-K only recommends those items whose equipment does not get washed with non-kosher items.
Because it is aware that the Star-K has listed some of its beverages as not acceptable, Starbucks is working with the agency on possible changes.
“They have engaged us in a conversation of what we could do to advise them how to expand the comfort level for the kosher consumer and how to expand the list of recommended drinks,” said Rabbi Holland.
At the Cedarhurst Starbucks on Rockaway Turnpike, one of the ten stores participating in the test program, the switch to kosher milk has gone off without a hitch.
“It is going well, really well,” said manager Cherise Sopp. “People are telling us that it is great and that they love it.”
A barista at the Lakewood Starbucks on Route 70, said the changeover made sense, giving the growing Orthodox Jewish population in the area, many of whom were grateful to be able to have regular milk, instead of soy milk on their visits to Starbucks.
Janelle Hall, an employee at the Flatlands Starbucks located in Flatlands, said that she is not aware of any complaints regarding the cholov yisroel milk and the many Orthodox Jews who frequent the store are content with the switch.
“We have always had Jewish customers and the feedback so far is that everyone is happy about it,” said Hall.
The Starbucks locations serving cholov yisroel milk are:
316 Rockaway Turnpike, Cedarhurst
1344 Broadway, Hewlett
1927 Flatbush Avenue, Flatlands
341 Eastern Pkwy, Crown Heights
166 7th Ave, Park Slope
164 Park Place, Park Slope
1865 Route 70, Lakewood
4701 Route 9 Space T1B, Howell, New Jersey
2100 Highway 35 , Oakhurst, New Jersey
2860 Lakewood RD in Toms River