Starbucks coffee made with ‘toilet water’ in Hong Kong

A Starbucks in Hong Kong is under fire for using water from a bathroom tap to brew its coffee

A Starbucks in Hong Kong is under fire for using water from a bathroom tap to brew its coffee.

Highly purified wastewater is a viable clean water source, and while I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable drinking it, I can tell you that I’d be more comfortable with a bottle of that than a cup of coffee made from water obtained from a tap in a bathroom. That’s just what customers of the Starbucks in Hong Kong’s Bank of China got, though.

Evidently the store didn’t have a clean water supply and so Starbucks employees wheeled a cart to a local bathroom several times a day to retrieve water. The water came from a faucet that dispensed drinking water, and the tap was next to a urinal.

Just the thought of splashing urine turns my stomach. Regardless of how safe the water is when it is inside the pipes, the second it hits the edge of the tap it is exposed to contaminants. Even if it weren’t next to a tap, we all know how dirty public restrooms are.

The cleanliness of the restroom was most concerning to Ben Cowling, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health. “If the staff need to frequently visit the toilet, they may increase the risk of bringing other pathogens from the washroom into their food and drink preparation area,” he told

Even though the water wasn’t technically water from the toilet, it was water dispensed in a restroom. That’s close enough to ‘toilet water’ for me and for the many people who complained to Starbucks; the company has now switched to using distilled bottled water until it can secure a safe, clean water source.

Would you be outraged if your coffee was made with water from a tap located next to a urinal?


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