Sorry, was that one flush or two? Head Starbucks honchos in Hong Kong may have some serious explaining to do after photos of a “Starbucks Only” water spout in a bathroom has caused many customers to believe that the java giant was using “toilet water” to brew coffee.
The photos, which were reportedly taken in a men’s bathroom in the coffee chain's Bank of China Tower location, according to the Huffington Post, show a man exiting the restroom with a cart after using a waterspout that was just a few feet away from a urinal. The Starbucks employee is shown ushering the cart back to the coffee stand.
Apple Daily, a Hong Kong based tabloid, first published pictures of the disturbing practice along with a report claiming Starbucks employees were making multiple trips to the building’s parking garage where they would fill trash bags with water to brew coffee. After sending reporters to investigate how the staff members were making coffee, reporters determined the Starbucks workers first filtered the water.
As it turns out, Starbucks spokeswoman Wendy Pang told the Agence France-Presse water used to brew coffee at Starbucks' Bank of China Tower location was taken from a dedicated tap in a restroom and put through a filtration system, but that it met the standards set by local authorities and the World Health Organization. The location had been brewing coffee that way since it first opened in 2011.
"There is no direct water supply to that particular store, that’s why we need to obtain the drinking water from the nearest source in the building,” Pang told AFP. She added the location is now using distilled water.
Naturally, Starbucks customers at the Hong Kong location were outraged, taking to Facebook to share their disbelief over the coffee giant’s questionable practice.
“Totally disappointed! The initial decision by Starbucks to use water from toilet is a clear sign of your company’s vision and the level of (dis)respect your company has for the health and mind of your customers,” the AFP quoted Kevin L as writing on the Starbucks Hong Kong Facebook wall. “I’m now really worried when I purchase coffee from Starbucks. Who knows which other stores are using the similar practice! Scary!!” Kevin L continued.