This is an important question and I’ll take this opportunity to shed some light on how this stuff works.
The short answer is that I am personally in direct contact with Starbucks about their products and ingredients. I am in direct contact with the Star-K with regards to what their organization approves or doesn’t approve. Everything on the kosherstarbucks.com website is accurate and updated constantly.
So if you’re asking whether these products listed as certified on the website are indeed kosher or not, I can tell you they are. All the products listed as kosher contain only kosher ingredients.
But if you’re asking whether someone went down to a manufacturing facility before approving some products, I’d like to ask you what would need to be examined at the facility? Did you know that kashrus organizations dont inspect every facility? They all rely on the FDA and the many laws that require the manufactures to be compliant and disclose their ingredients?
The Star-K does not like how many Starbucks stores clean their utensils which is why they ran a pilot program with Starbucks to change the way they handle the cleaning process at local Starbucks cafes. This program eventually ended a few months ago. Did you notice how the Star-K approved many Starbucks products and still approve many without having their certification listed? The Star-K does not inspect each Starbucks cafe. Do you see where I’m going with this.
LKO and many others do not share the same concerns about the cleaning process at Starbucks cafes and therefore approve many more Starbucks products.
I had a friend who used to drive me crazy all day about how I’m not eating kosher because I just read ingredients… One day this friend called me to ask forgiveness. He said he started working for the OU kashrus organization and his job was to inspect food manufacturing facilities all over the USA. He told me that he’s embarrassed about every concern he raised about why reading ingredients cant be good because his ignorance now became very apparent to him. He said kashrus organization all rely on the FDA and the laws. They pop into facilities once in a while to say hi. No organization is sitting there everyday ensuring that every batch only consists of the ingredients that are listed.
The pros to having a certification stamped on a product is that now you don’t need to read the ingredients and research further. You can simply rely on the certification that they did their job. But this by no way means you must have a certification on such products for it to be kosher.
Kashrus certification is a big business with people making millions of dollars. Some will tell you whatever they have to so that you believe you must have a certification. This is their livelihood.
This is an over simplification of the topic and the many facets involved. We barely scratched the surface of what every concern may be and what the answer is. But this is enough for this post to give some perspective.
Enjoy your coffee!