Starbucks Faces Lawsuit Alleging They Intentionally Cheat People Out Of Coffee

Starbucks might be as American as apple pie and baseball these days, but plenty of people are questioning their business ethics and they are being sued for allegedly underfilling their cups by as much as 25 percent, which would constitute false advertisement. In the lawsuit that was filed this week, the allegation reads as follows.

"Starbucks lattes are uniformly underfilled pursuant to a standardized recipe. Tall lattes are not 12 fluid ounces. Grande lattes are not 16 fluid ounces, and Venti lattes are not 20 fluid ounces. Starbucks cheats purchasers by providing less fluid ounces in their lattes than represented."
The lawsuit has not gone to court yet, but a spokesperson made a preliminary inquiry as soon as they were informed of the lawsuit. The spokesperson for the company says the company is aware of the lawsuit and that it is without merit.
"We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages, and we inform customers of the likelihood of variations."
The lawsuit states that the problem began in 2009, when the cost of milk increased considerably, and milk is one of the chief ingredients in a latte. In order to compensate for that, the lawsuit alleges, the company began short-changing customers. The lawsuit originates in California, but has filed for class action status.

Multiple sclerosis may be avoided by drinking more coffee.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]In order to create a latte, the lawsuit says, the standardized recipe requires baristas to fill a pitcher with steamed milk up to a "fill-to" line that corresponds to the size of a customer's order. The steamed milk is then poured into a serving cup with a shot of espresso and topped with a quarter inch of milk foam. Even when this is accomplished, according to the lawsuit, Starbucks' recipes "result in beverages that are plainly underfilled" and that the fill-to lines during the making of the latte are "too low, by several ounces," according to Nation's Restaurant News.

Coffee has been linked to a decreased risk of stroke. [Photo by Chris Jackson for Getty Images]
[Photo by Chris Jackson for Getty Images]Other claims in the lawsuit state that the serving cups are too small to hold the ounces listed on the menu — a Grande, in example, holds 16 ounces when completely full, but the standard recipe for a latte calls for it to be filled more than a quarter inch below the rim of the serving cup. The lawsuit claims that the popular chain has made considerable profits by cheating customers.
"By underfilling its lattes, thereby shortchanging its customers, Starbucks has saved countless millions of dollars in the cost of goods and was unjustly enriched by taking payment for more product than it delivers."
Starbucks has faced other lawsuits like most large commercial chains. One lawsuit alleged their coffee was too hot and another said that their coffee had some type of cleaning solution in it. Starbucks is not the first restaurant chain to be sued over coffee, either. McDonald's was successfully sued by a woman when she received third degree, or full-thickness skin burns, when the coffee she was just handed dumped in her lap. That lawsuit has become an urban legend about the frivolity of lawsuits, but in that instance, McDonald's really was at fault because their coffee machine was making coffee at least 100 degrees higher in temperature than it should have been, resulting in the serious burns and skin grafts the elderly woman faced.

Starbucks issued the following statement on Friday afternoon, according to KomoNews.

"We are aware of the plaintiffs' claims, which we fully believe to be without merit. We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages. Hand-prepared beverages increase the likelihood of variations, as disclosed in the nutritional section of our website. Customers often prescribe for us how they want their beverage prepared (e.g. with room, extra foam), therefore beverage volumes are largely collaborative. If a customer is unhappy with their beverage preparation then we are happy to remake it to their satisfaction."
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]