Starbucks Accused of Systematically Underfilling Their Lattes by 25 Percent

Ever had a Starbucks barista underfill your latte? Chances are you didn’t notice, or just couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. Not Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles, two under-caffeinated Californians with enough ire and time on their hands to recently file a class-action complaint against the coffee empire, which a federal judge allowed to go to court last Friday.


According to the complaint, filed by the pair in March, Starbucks serially underfills their steamed-milk beverages by up to 25 percent. “Starbucks cheats purchasers by providing less fluid ounces in their Lattes than represented,” read the charge, which noted that according to the advertised amounts, the drinks should be filled to the brim. Instead, the complaint continued, drinks get poured up to the “fill to” line a quarter-inch below the brim — a cost-cutting feature implemented by Starbucks in 2009 to save money on milk by allowing consumers to add in their own using provided pitchers.

Starbucks formally rebutted this accusation, arguing that a “reasonable consumer” would not find this practice out of line. “Plaintiffs fail to allege facts demonstrating that the warranty, in context, was breached, or that they were injured by the purported breach,” the coffee franchise further stated in apparent disregard for the emotional and psychological scars such a breach of trust may have caused its customers.

In his ruling, presiding District Court Judge Thelton Henderson stated that it was not implausible the alleged deception could be against the law. “The court finds it probable that a significant portion of the latte-consuming public could believe that a ‘Grande’ contains 16 ounces of fluid, measured without milk foam or in its cooled state,” he said. “If nothing else, it is probable enough that the issue should be decided by a trier of fact, not on a motion to dismiss.”

In a statement issued to the New York Times, Starbucks described the lawsuit as “without merit” saying, “all of our handcrafted beverages are made in accordance with our customers’ preferences. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it. We will be prepared to defend our case in court.”

It's at times like this you've got to really wish Dumb Starbucks was still around.

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