NBC Brought Own Starbucks Shop to Sochi

There is a Starbucks in Sochi, Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics even though they are not an official sponsor of the games. The nearest one is in the small town Rostov-on-Don.

But NBC employees enjoy this small luxury most Americans take for granted. They flew in their own Starbucks and set up shop in their corner of the Olympics broadcasting center. It is open 24 hours for the 2,500 people NBC flew to Sochi. NBC said they are not violating the non-sponsor rules because it is behind closed doors and not open to the public.

Bringing in the joe is a delicate exercise. NBC flies in a rotating crew of some 15 baristas from Starbucks coffee shops in Russia, sets them up with accommodations in Sochi, and pays their regular wages. As with past Games, Starbucks has gladly cooperated with the effort.

All told, the barista battalion is larger than the Sochi Olympic teams of some 57 countries.

One barista working at the covert facility next to the NBC cafeteria on Friday night said she had come from Moscow; another one arrived from St. Petersburg.

NBC has set up its own personal Starbucks at every Olympics since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, according to Mr. Fritsche. But Sochi is only the second time NBC has brought Starbucks to a city that doesn't have one. Turin, the coffee-rich site of the 2006 Winter Games, was the other.

Rachel Rominger, an International Olympic Committee representative, said no rules are violated since NBC is bringing in the coffee for their personal use. The main sponsors, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, are not concerned with Starbucks. Coke does not own a hot drink business in Russia and people are left with McDonald’s McCafé drinks. The coffee is very popular, which probably explains why it does not bother them that NBC brought in their own Starbucks.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports columnist Dejan Kovacevic is addicted to Starbucks and once had a connection to the NBC shop. But now the person is on the other side of the park and he carries his empty Starbucks cup with him.

"It's a status symbol," he explains. "It shows I'm not some kind of lowlife."

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