“After you acted with haughtiness by eating and drinking, you then accept the yoke of heaven on yourself!” (Berachos 10b)
With these words, the Gemara teaches us that eating beforehand implies arrogance. Accordingly, one may drink water, which is not a sign of haughtiness (Shulchan Aruch 89,3).
Many people drink coffee or tea in order to be more alert. Since the purpose of one’s drinking is to enhance his concentration, this is not considered haughtiness. This is especially pertinent in the case of a caffeine addict, whose tefillah can be seriously hindered, in which case a caffeinated drink is permitted (Mishnah Berurah 89,22).
Earlier authorities categorize adding sugar or milk to coffee as an act of arrogance. However, since many people today are accustomed to drinking their coffee with sugar and milk, it may no longer be considered thus (Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as cited in Halichos Shlomo, Tefillah 2,2). A person may not have cake or any other food with his coffee, unless he is so hungry that he cannot concentrate on his prayer (Mishnah Berurah 89,22).
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org