Posted on by Barista Life

Starbucks is Being Sued for "Underfilling Its Lattes"

Starbucks is Being Sued for Underfilling its Lattes

The recent news in Starbucks-Land is in the form of a lawsuit against the coffee giant for allegedly serving lattes that are filled 25% less than advertised.

Main Claims of the Starbucks Lawsuit

Starbucks Class Action Lawsuit Claims

The class-action suit, filed in the U.S. district court of Northern California, claims that Starbucks knowingly and systematically serves customers lattes that are 25 percent smaller than the menu claims.

According to the court complaint, "Starbucks Lattes are made from a standardized recipe, which Starbucks instituted in 2009 to save on the cost of milk — one of its most expensive ingredients." The suit argues that the "fill to" lines etched on the pitchers used by baristas to heat milk result in drinks that don't measure up to the tall (12 ounce), grande (16 ounce), and venti (20 ounce) sizes listed on the menu. "By underfilling its lattes, thereby shortchanging its customers, Starbucks has saved countless millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold and was unjustly enriched by taking payment for more product than it delivers," the suit reads. (Eater.com)

Eater reached out to Starbucks for a comment where a Starbucks spokesperson said, "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, and we inform customers of the likelihood of variations."

As Baristas are instructed to leave 1/4" of room in each latte to prevent spilling of the hot beverage on the customer, we also believe the claims to be without merit.  

"Plaintiff Strumlauf relied on this representation and warranty in deciding to purchase her Starbucks Lattes, and this representation and warranty was part of the basis of the bargain, in that she would not have purchased Grande-sized Starbucks Lattes on the same terms if she had known that they were not, in fact, 16 fluid ounces."

"The etched 'Fill to' lines used to measure the steamed milk are plainly set too low"

Also from the lawsuit,
"Second, Plaintiffs’ counsel acquired several copies of the standardized pitcher currently in use by Starbucks baristas to make Lattes. However, the etched “fill to” lines used to measure the steamed milk are plainly set too low. For a Grande beverage, the “fill to” line comprises less than 12 fluid ounces of milk. After adding 2 shots of espresso (2 fluid ounces), the resulting beverage measures less than 14 fluid ounces at most. This falls far short of Starbucks’“16 fl. oz.” representation.
Something they are forgetting is how steaming milk actually works.  When milk is steamed, it is aerated, creating foam which increases the volume of the milk. According to u/brokenelk from the Starbucks Subreddit discussion on the topic,
"This is beyond ridiculous. Customers are also allowed to ask for no foam and fill to the top. We give them room so they don't burn themselves or spill and stain their clothing. Nothing but and ambulance chase.  Digging into the article it also says we don't allow for deviance by having lined pitchers. While the lined pitchers are guides to control waste, there is always deviance because the baristas are human and technically pour however much they want to in the pitcher."
Speaking for many baristas, the norm is to fill the beverage completely to the brim of the cup because, as we all know, the customer will be very vocal if they receive a drink that isn't filled to the top.
Here is the full text of the Class Action Lawsuit against Starbucks

Your Thoughts?

So, what do you guys think?  Do you think this lawsuit will be thrown out? Or do you think the claims are with merit?  Let us know in the comments below!