CJPME Factsheet 242, created May 2024: This factsheet covers Aroma Espresso Bar, an Israeli coffee chain, in Israel's illegal settlements, particularly its operation of a café in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement in the occupied West Bank and its sourcing of goods from farms in illegal settlements. It highlights the ethical and legal implications of operating in occupied territories and benefiting from the exploitation of Palestinian and Syrian resources. Additionally, it discusses discriminatory practices within the company and its material support for the Israeli military, calling for a boycott until specific actions are taken to end complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

Boycott Campaign: Aroma Espresso Bar

Factsheet Series No. 242, Created: May 2024, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

What is Aroma Espresso Bar?

Aroma Espresso Bar is an Israeli coffee chain that was established in Jerusalem in 1994 and expanded to almost 200 locations worldwide. The company’s largest presence outside of Israel is in Ontario with about 40 locations, mainly in the Greater Toronto Area.[1]

How is Aroma Espresso Bar complicit in Israel’s illegal settlements?

Aroma proudly operates a café located in a mall in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim in the occupied West Bank.[2] Ma’aleh Adumim, a city with a population of 40,000 settlers, was established in 1975 on land expropriated from Palestinians, and its construction involved the forced relocation of a Bedouin community.[3] It is strategically located next to Jerusalem and in the middle of the West Bank, an area that Israel intends to annex permanently.[4]

In addition to its location in Ma’aleh Adumim, Aroma’s broader supply chain has also come under scrutiny for being linked to illegal Israeli settlements. The milk supplier for their cafés, Tnuva, sources raw materials from Israeli settlement dairy farms across the occupied West Bank and occupied Syrian Golan.[5] This means that Aroma benefits from the exploitation of Palestinian and Syrian natural resources in occupied territory, which is prohibited under international law.[6] Furthermore, the Israeli dairy industry benefits from Israeli government policies that hinder Palestinian farmers' initiatives in the West Bank and Gaza, destroying farms, undermining the local economy, and keeping the Palestinian markets dependent on Israeli goods.[7]

What’s wrong with companies being in the settlements?

All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law. This was reaffirmed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which clearly states that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”[8] Moreover, Israeli settlements amount to the theft and exploitation of Palestinian land, resources, and labour, and businesses profiting from economic activity in these settlements are therefore complicit in these crimes. The United Nations Human Rights Council has called upon businesses to comply with international law and “avoid contributing to the establishment or maintenance of Israeli settlements or the exploitation of natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”[9]

How else is Aroma Espresso Bar complicit in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians?

There have also been reports of discriminatory practices within one of Aroma Espresso Bar’s branches in central Israel, in which Palestinian employees were forbidden to speak Arabic at work, a request that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said violated employment laws prohibiting discrimination based on nationality, origin, or religion.[10]

Finally, the coffee chain materially supports Israel’s war efforts in Gaza, with a portion of its profits going to support the Israeli military.[11] Following the start of Israel’s genocidal war against Gaza in 2023, Aroma Expresso Bar claimed to be “supplying 10,000 sandwiches each day to soldiers throughout the country,” with its location in Bet Shemesh operating as a factory for the army.[12]

When will the boycott of Aroma Espresso Bar end?

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a boycott of all companies that are complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.[13] At a minimum, Canadians should boycott all Aroma Espresso Bar locations until the company closes its location in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, stops sourcing goods from illegal settlement farms, and cuts ties with the Israeli military.


[1] The Canadian Jewish News, “Why Israel’s Aroma Espresso Bar owes $10 million to their original Canadian franchisor—but they’re not paying (yet)”, February 8, 2023; Aroma Café Canada Website, accessed on May 17, 2024.

[2] “Ma’ale Adumim,” Aroma Café Israel Website, accessed on May 9, 2024.

[3] Zena Agha, “Israel’s Annexation Crusade in Jerusalem: The Role of Ma’ale Adumim and the E1 Corridor,” Al-Shabaka, March 26, 2018.

[4] B’Tselem and Bimkom, “The Hidden Agenda: The Establishment and Expansion Plans of Ma'ale Adummim and their Human Rights Ramifications,” December, 2009.

[5] Who Profits Research Centre, “Tnuva Group,” accessed May 17, 2023.

[6] M. Lynk, “Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory, Occupation and Natural Resources,” How does law protect in war?, ICRC, Geneva, 2014, accessed May 17, 2024.

[7] Who Profits Research Center, “The Land of Milk and Money,” July 2015.

[8] United Nations Security Council, “Resolution 2334,” June 21, 2023.

[9] United Nations General Assembly, “Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 24 March 2016, Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan,” A/HRC/RES/31/36, April, 2016.

[10] Yael Marom, “Israeli cafe orders employees to stop speaking Arabic on the job,” 972+ Magazine, April 1, 2017.

[11] Nils Adler, “Atop a Jerusalem mountain, a cafe of rare coexistence in a divided city,” Al Jazeera, October 21, 2023.

[12] Alan Rosenbaum, “Aroma branch turns into civilian sandwich factory for IDF soldiers,” Jerusalem Post, November 5, 2023; Emmy Leah Zitter, “Making 12,000 Sandwiches a Day for Israeli Soldiers,” Aish, November 25, 2023.

[13] “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” BDS Movement, July 2005.

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