By Eli Gersten
Q: What are my options for getting a cup of coffee at work on Pesach? Can I use the office coffee machine since it is only used for coffee?
A: Unless you prepare in advance, procuring a hot cup of coffee at work on Pesach could be a challenge. The office coffee machine is likely to be unusable on Pesach. Although the popular Keurig machines have many flavors that are certified kosher for Passover, they may not be brewed on Pesach in a machine in which non-kosher-for-Passover flavors are also brewed. Even if your office has the “old style” coffee brewers and you are certain that throughout the year only plain, unflavored coffee grounds are brewed in it, it would still not be acceptable to use the coffee pot on Pesach. This is because it is likely that at some point the pot came into contact with a chametz mug or was rinsed in a chametz sink. Throughout the year these are not concerns, but on Pesach we tend to be more stringent. While generally nonkosher foods can be nullified, even a minute amount of chametz cannot be nullified on Pesach. Therefore, on Pesach, even the office hot water urn or the hot water spout on the office cooler should not be used, since they were probably used to make non-kosher-for-Passover hot cereals and soups.
To make coffee in the office on Pesach, you can purchase your own portable electric kettle to make hot water. Filling the electric kettle with cold water (from a sink or cooler that is not kosher for Pesach) does not pose a halachic problem. However, you should not take cold water from a cooler that has one spout for both hot and cold water. You can also use bottled water (which doesn’t require special Pesach certification).
Bring your own supply of instant or powdered coffee that is certified kosher for Pesach. Even if your office happens to have an acceptable brand of coffee, only use coffee from an unopened canister as an open canister is probably contaminated with chametz. Closed packets of plain white sugar can be used, even without kosher for Passover certification, but you should not use a communal sugar dispenser. Packets of artificial sweetener without Pesach certification may not be used, since they contain fillers which are kitniyot or even actual chametz.
Bring milk or cream that is certified kosher for Pesach since milk may contain chametz vitamins or have come into contact with equipment that is also used for chametz. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the office, even on Pesach.
Rabbi Eli Gersten is a rabbinic coordinator for OU Kosher and recorder of OU Policy.