Starbucks accused of underfilling lattes in class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit filed March 16 by two Californians claims that Starbucks "knowingly and systematically" serves customers drinks that are falsely advertised as being larger than they are.

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"Starbucks lattes are approximately 25 percent underfilled," the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs, Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles, filed suit on behalf of purchasers of Starbucks lattes everywhere. Strumlauf and Robles allege that Starbucks doesn't use enough liquid in its standard latte recipe and that its cups aren't big enough to contain the amount of beverage stated on the company's size menu. They claim that by doing so, Starbucks violates consumer laws and is guilty of “negligent misrepresentation and fraud.”

"The serving cup used for grande beverages holds exactly 16 fluid ounces, when completely full," court documents read. "However, Starbucks’ standardized recipe for its grande latte calls to fill the serving cup up to 'one-quarter inch below cup rim.' Thus, when used in conjunction with its standardized recipes, Starbucks’ serving cups do not permit 12-ounce, 16-ounce, and 20-ounce lattes."

In short, the lawsuit claims that a tall latte doesn't come out to 12 fluid ounces, a grande doesn't equal 16 fluid ounces and a venti is less than the 20 fluid ounces that the company claims.

"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 complaint says.

"We are aware of the plaintiffs' claims, which we fully believe to be without merit," a Starbucks company spokesperson told Eater. "We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages, and we inform customers of the likelihood of variations."

The lawsuit includes Starbucks caffè lattes, flavored lattes, pumpkin spice lattes, egg nog lattes, skinny lattes, skinny flavored lattes, vanilla lattes and skinny vanilla lattes. If the suit is approved, it will be open to all U.S. class members who have purchased a Starbucks latte, according to Top Class Actions.

Read the lawsuit documents here.

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