Two California coffee fans are brimming with anger — over Starbucks' seeming inability to fill its coffee cups to the rim. And as of June 17, a federal judge has granted the duo the go-ahead to pursue their lawsuit against the chain.
According to the class-action suit they filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, every time they order a tall, grande, or venti-sized latte (which the Starbucks menu lists as 12, 16, and 20 ounces, respectively), Starbucks has under-filled their cups by about 25% every time.
The lawsuit claims that this is no mistake — Starbucks has knowingly and systematically served its customers smaller lattes after adopting a new recipe in 2009 in order to save money on milk.
“A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk,” the lawsuit claims. “Traditionally, a latte is created by mixing steamed milk and espresso, which is then topped with a thin layer of milk foam.”
The case’s two plaintiffs, Siera Strumlauf of San Francisco and Benjamin Robles of Carlsbad, purport that the “fill to” lines that the Starbucks baristas use to determine how much milk to include in each drink are too low, resulting in approximately 1/4 inch of free space per drink cup.
“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.
Now, according to Top Class Actions, if the class-action lawsuit is approved, then it will be open to all U.S. Class Members who have purchased a Starbucks Latte — ever. Additionally, the plaintiffs are seeking to represent a subclass of California residents who have bought a latte from Starbucks.
In other words: Starbucks is in trouble if this goes through. The U.S. Class Members plus the select California residents combined could equal a staggeringly large number of underserved java fanatics.
When reached for comment by Eater, 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.”
Read the case in full on Eater here.