Understanding Kosher Flavored Coffee

The Roots of Coffee

Coffee, the second largest commodity traded in the world, second to oil, has its roots in Ethiopia and Yemen. In the mid-1500’s it was spread throughout many regions by the Ottoman Empire and by the 17th century spread quickly throughout Europe. After the Boston Tea Party the New World turned to coffee, and it became well-known by Civil War times, when soldiers relied on it for extra energy. Today, about 2.2 billion cups of coffee per day are drunk worldwide.

When You Need Certification For Coffee

Plain, unflavored coffee does not need kosher certification. However, any flavored coffee needs kosher certification since flavors can contain non-kosher ingredients. For Passover, decaffeinated coffee requires kosher certification, as heated grain alcohol is often used to take the caffeine out of the beans and grains are a leavening agent that is prohibited to consume on Passover.

The Coffee Market

Europe and North America are the largest consumer driven areas for the consumption of coffee. The major producing countries of coffee are Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia and Indonesia. In the U.S., consumers spend per annum in excess of $80 billion on coffee and the economic impact of coffee is equivalent to 1.6% of GDP.  There are close to 150 million daily drinkers of coffee consuming about 400 million cups a day. According to Bloomberg, millennials in the U.S. constitute 44% of all coffee drinkers and globally coffee consumption is set to rise by one third by the year 2030.

The Major Players In The Market Are OU Kosher Certified

Starbucks, the symbol of coffee, has all its products kosher certified, choosing the worldwide leader in kashrut, the OU. With a streamlined coffee operation, they rely on the OU for its supervision. Nestlé, equipped with the largest coffee plant in the U.S., with worldwide brands Nescafe and Tasters Choice, are strictly kosher and have the OU stamp on all of their products. The J.M. Smucker Co. produces Folgers, one of the most well-known brands in the world, and relies on the OU for its certification.


Steven Genack
Steven Genack has worked at OU Kosher for more than ten years with a specialty in ingredients. He is an attorney and former editor of a newspaper. He has a wide array of interests including playing tennis, golf and basketball and reading biographies and memoirs.