A Starbucks coffee shop located in Hong Kong's financial district was recently in the news for allegedly using toilet water to brew coffee, since the time it opened in 2011.
The incident came to light only after a photo of "Starbucks Only" water tap in a bathroom surfaced online, which prompted angry reactions from customers.
The café, located in the Central Bank of China Tower in underground stores, has been allegedly using the water from a tap from a nearby garage toilet to make beverages, because they did not have a water supply of their own.
Hong Kong based tabloid Apple Daily published the photos of Starbucks staff taking water from the men's bathroom in the building parking garage. The tabloid also reported that the employees filter the water before using it.
The spokeswoman of the coffee shop has confessed that they are using the faucet to make coffee. "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," Starbucks spokeswoman Wendy Pang confessed to Agence France-Presse.
However, she also said that the coffee shop is now using distilled water to prepare its beverages.
"Starbucks! Making huge profits globally but chose to use toilet water for making coffee in that store rather than spending a few cents to use distilled water. We pay a few dollars to buy a cup of coffee (and you know your profit margin) and we get this kind of disrespect for our mind and health! Whoever made that decision to use toilet water needs to explain the decision process. I'm now really worried when I purchase coffee from Starbucks. Who knows which other stores are using the similar practice," Kevin L, a Facebook user wrote on the Starbucks' Hong Kong Facebook wall.
"Starbucks, you need to make an open declaration that such crap is not repeated anywhere else, and fire the idiot who thought up such kind of water supply solution," Duncan Yum commented on Facebook wall.
Pang said the water is filtered to make sure that it passes the local and World Health Organisation standards.
But people in the country raised concerns about health and the risk of transferring germs from the washroom into their food and beverages.
"The potential risk of transferring pathogens from the restroom environment into the Starbucks food preparation area," Benjamin Cowling, an associate professor from Hong Kong University School of Public Health, told AFP.
"I wouldn't go to the restaurant in the first place if I knew they were having potentially risky hygiene practices," Cowling added.