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Foodservice

No Flow, No Joe

Coffee sales grind to trickle in E. Mass.; bottled water floods into area
BOSTON -- Bottled water manufacturers stepped up production to help supply Greater Boston following a break in a pipe that pumps drinkable water to the area, reported The Boston Globe. And the massive Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe break on Saturday that cut off clean water to two million Eastern Massachusetts residents also sharply curtailed the availability of another critical beveragecoffeethe newspaper said. Many chains and independent retailers cut off the flow of java, leaving coffee drinkers searching for other sources of caffeine.

"We have [image-nocss] plenty of water," Larry Gillis, who is with Nestle Waters North America, told the paper. Nestle Waters bottles Poland Spring water and has a factory in Framingham. "Finding fleet resources to get the product we need into MEMA has been the challenge... We're really scrambling."

On Saturday night, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency requested the assistance of Nestle Waters North America to deliver Poland Spring bottled water to the Boston area in light of the boil alert situation, the company said in a statement. The company also received hundreds of orders for bottled water and began working on production and delivery logistics immediately. The company had already delivered 21 truckloads (nearly half a million bottles) of water to the affected areas by Sunday and expected to deliver 40 more truckloads (1.4 million bottles) over the next 48 hours.

The company completed deliveries to area hospitals; the Massachusetts National Guard organized pickup of an additional 11 truckloads of Poland Spring/NPL bottled water from an warehouse facility Sunday night; all of its bottling facilities in Maine and the northeast have begun additional bottled water production to ensure the company can to continue to support people in need of clean water; members of Poland Spring's emergency water logistics team worked through the night to find trucks to deliver water to Massachusetts; 10 truckloads of Poland Spring and Nestle Pure Life bottled water were delivered to area communities as a start on Sunday afternoon; and it completed deliveries to locations in Arlington, Lexington, Malden, Marblehead, Medford, Saugus, Waltham and Winthrop.

On the coffee front, Dunkin' Donuts stopped serving coffee in areas affected by the water break Sunday, said the report. Customers were greeted by signs on the entrances that said: "We are not offering hot or cold coffee products until further notice." Dunkin' Donuts was pushing Coolattas, a frozen coffee drink.

Starbucks also shut down its coffee sales in affected stores, and only offered bottled drinks and food, the report said.

A 7-Eleven on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester was not selling fountain drinks, but was offering coffee. "It is already hot," a clerk said. But a 7-Eleven in Downtown Crossing decided otherwise, and cut off its coffee, said the report.

Different stores reached different conclusions about whether coffee is hot enough to qualify as drinkable. It is not, said the newspaper; water must be boiled for a minute, which does not happen in a coffeemaker.

Some consumers were taking no chances. "I think I will pass on the boiled tap water," Connelly said. And Edgar Galicia, a gas station worker in Dorchester, said he skipped his morning cup of coffee because he was "worried about getting sick."

Click hereto view the official boil order.

And the threat of price gouging on bottled water led Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley to issue a statement warning retailers not to "take advantage of this public emergency to unfairly charge consumers far beyond what they would typically charge for water" and to set up a hotline. (Click here to view the full statement.)

A Hyde Park convenience store was accused by the city of selling a case of water for $16 Monday, reported WCVB-TV. Boston Police officers were sent to a Tedeschi Food Shop in Hyde Park after reports the store was price gouging. A receipt provided by Mayor Thomas Menino's office claimed to show the charge.

Manager Tariq Mehmood denied the price-gouging allegation. "It's not true," he told The Boston Herald. "They were not $16." He said water was being sold for $9.99 for a case of 32 bottles.

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