There’s A Secret Sochi Starbucks For NBC Staff Only, And It’s On Lockdown

Not an NBC employee. (

Not an NBC employee. (

NBC, the TV network with the exclusive rights to air the Olympics in the United States until about 500 years past Ragnarok, has a secret weapon as they cover the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. That amazing secret is a secret, free, staff-only Starbucks.

Here’s the thing with coffee at the Olympics: since McDonald’s is a sponsor, they’re the only company allowed to sell cups of coffee. McDonald’s coffee is nice and all, but it’s not the same if you’re an espresso addict. So we hear.

The mysterious Starbucks is deep inside NBC’s offices in Sochi. At the beginning, NBC employees (there are 2,500 of ’em in Sochi) were able to smuggle drinks out to their friends who work for other media outlets. NBC set up the coffee stand, flying in baristas from the new Starbucks outlets in Russia, all of which are hundreds of miles away from Sochi. They could freely carry their green-and-white cups around the area, inspiring envy. Then it all stopped. Well, the coffee kept coming, but the Starbucks went on lockdown.

Was there some kind of terrorist threat? No. lockdown is to protect the rest of Sochi from learning that there’s a Starbucks at all. After the Wall Street Journal published an article about the secret shop, though, baristas began to crack down on coffee for others…and coffee smuggled out of the NBCplex for non-employees. The Wall Street Journal stuck with this story, letting the world know that customers were no longer allowed to take their cups out of the Starbucks area, and baristas ordered them to either consume their drinks on the premises or pour them out. Harsh.

Now employees who want their drinks to go can walk around with them in a more generic cup: the coffee clearly isn’t from McDonald’s, but not advertising Starbucks, either.

Here’s a picture from inside the Starbucks, original source unknown:


NBC’s ‘Secret’ Starbucks Goes on Lockdown [WSJ]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.