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Chicago Tribune writer Stacy St. Clair is in Sochi, the much-maligned host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Yesterday St. Clair tweeted about the water situation at her hotel, and it has gone viral. The hotel owners warned St. Clair not to use the water on her face “because it contains something very dangerous.”

Clearly, this water is unsuitable for brewing coffee.


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So what should journalists in Sochi do when they need to brew a nice cup of coffee?

“The more clean-tasting, low TDS [total dissolved solids], and LGBTQIA tolerant the water, the better the brew. Might have to grind a little coarser, or grind more forcefully, depending on the coffee,” says Nicholas Cho, a columnist for Serious Eats and main architect behind the World Brewers Cup.


If Russian tap water is out of the question, what should journalists use? Bottled water. Stacy St. Clair has access to Evian bottled water, which according to has a high TDS count. “Water with higher TDS will have a more difficult time extracting solubles from the coffee,” says frequent traveler and Specialty Coffee Association of America Symposium Director Peter Giuliano.

If Stacy St. Clair brews coffee with Evian, we’re told she might have to grind her coffee a bit finer. “Either grind finer or increase dose,” Mr. Giuliano recommends.

Bottled water labels contain the necessary information Sochi journalists need when determining what works best for brewing coffee.

FIJI Bottle Water Label (H202Therapy)
FIJI Bottle Water Label (H202Therapy)

In 2009, the Specialty Coffee Association of America published water standards “for a superior quality extraction of coffee solids.” One should follow these parameters when in a Sochi pinch:

SCAA Standard Water For Brewing Specialty Coffee
SCAA Standard Water For Brewing Specialty Coffee

If you’re a journalist in Sochi and would like our team of water experts to analyze the available bottled waters for premium coffee brewing, send us a line at This will likely be the least of your problems over the next two weeks, but all the same, we’re here to help.

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