Starbucks Shortchanges Customers With ‘Underfilled Lattes,’ Suit Claims

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two Californians have filed suit against Starbucks Corp. alleging the coffee giant underfills its lattes and therefore saved “countless of millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold,” according to the complaint.

Siera Strumlauf of San Francisco and Benjamin Robles of Carlsbad filed the proposed class-action in California federal court Wednesday.

Both allege they purchased Grande-size lattes, believing such would contain 16 fluid ounces based on Starbucks’ menu.

Yet, according to the complaint, “Starbucks lattes are uniformly underfilled pursuant to a standardized recipe.”

The suit claims that four steps go into making a Starbucks latte of which three leave no discretion to the barista to individually determine the amount of fluid or flavoring that’s used.

The final step, the suit alleges, involves the barista pouring steamed milk into a serving cup with espresso based on a recipe, then topping the beverage with a quarter-inch of milk foam “leaving at least (a quarter-inch) of space below the rim of the serving cup.”

The complaint states attorneys for the plaintiffs purchased and measured Starbucks lattes at stores and in several states and found that “each latte was underfilled by approximately 25 percent.”

“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,” the suit claims.

In a statement issued to CBS Los Angeles, Starbucks said it was aware of the plaintiffs’ claims.

“We are aware of the plaintiffs’ claims, which we fully believe to be without merit,” a Starbucks spokesperson said. “We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages, and we inform customers of the likelihood of variations.”

The suit sets forth multiple counts, including fraud, breach of express warranty, and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.

The plaintiffs are now seeking to have their class certified, among other relief.

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