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With locations all over the world, Starbucks has become many people’s go-to joint for a cup of joe. Even international travelers who find themselves in regions where sanitation standards may not be quite up to their own personal ones feel safe visiting the local branch of the Seattle-based coffee giant, where you can always expect a clean interior, friendly service, and fresh beans sourced from around the world.

Plus, if you visit one particular Starbucks location in Hong Kong, coffee brewed with water from a public restroom.

This unique menu item was surreptitiously offered by the Bank of China Tower branch, and was exposed in video taken by local media showing Starbucks employees rolling a large water tank to a public restroom located in a parking garage 70 meters (230 feet) from the branch and filling it with water before returning to the store and using it to brew coffee.

▼ The evidence starts at 0:20

Inside the restroom was a spigot marked “Starbucks only.” Exclusive tap or not, it’s located a mere one-and-a-half meters, or less than five feet, from the closest urinal, putting it within striking distance of a guy who’s just finished one cappuccino too many.

▼ Somehow now both the starting and ending point of a relaxing cup of coffee

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So why was this Starbucks withdrawing ingredients from a room that should be for deposits only? Out of necessity. The branch located in the Bank of China Tower has no faucets or other water fixtures on its premises. Even more unsettling is that the location opened two years ago, during which it got all of the water it used to make its drinks from the restroom.

When confronted about the practice, Starbucks made no attempts to deny it. “Tap water from the restroom is fit for drinking,” a spokesperson for the chain asserted. “The tank used to transport the water is disinfected regularly. Moreover, the branch is equipped with a state-of-the-art filtration system which the water passes through before being used to brew our beverages.”

Local authorities beg to differ, and have informed the chain that both their method and source for water procurement are against regulations and must be immediately rectified.

Locals were startled by the revelation. “I wouldn’t have expected this kind of thing to happen here in Hong Kong, and definitely not at Starbucks,” said one Hong Kong resident.

In the wake of customer outcry and pressure from other divisions of the company, Starbucks Hong Kong has announced that the policy has been scrapped, and that the branch will instead purchase bottled drinking water to make its coffee with.

The head of the Hong Kong Food and Beverage association also issued a reprimand to the coffee house, stating, “No matter how often it is cleaned, there will always be a certain amount of various bacteria in a restroom, so serving customers food or drink made with water from there is simply unacceptable.”

Thankfully, no health problems have been reported in connection with the Bank of China Tower branch. Here’s hoping they mend their ways and limit the coffee extras they offer to soy milk and espresso shots, and not the significantly less popular add-ins colon bacillus and staphylococcus.

Sources: Apple Daily, YouTube
Top image: All About
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