A grande vanilla americano with room for extra profits

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A grande vanilla americano with room for extra profits

By Daniel Anderson | Evergreen food columnist

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Coffee giant Starbucks is in hot water for allegedly not filling their cups to the tiptop.

A class-suit was filed in the U.S. district court of Northern California accusing the company of intentionally serving lattes that are 25 percent smaller than claimed to save on milk expenses.

The two California residents that filed the suit remarked that Starbucks has falsely advertised the volume of their drinks for years.

The official claim: “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 “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 under-filling 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 implications of the lawsuit against Starbucks could have hefty consequences for them. The lawsuit would cite that Starbucks has “breached implied and expressed warranties” meaning if the suit is approved, it is “open to all U.S. Class Members who purchased a Starbucks Latte.” That is a lot of people.

The Seattle P-I received an official response from Starbucks after they reported on the incident: “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. Hand-prepared beverages increase the likelihood of variations, as disclosed in the nutritional section of our website. Customers often prescribe for us how they want their beverage prepared (e.g. with room, extra foam), therefore beverage volumes are largely collaborative. If a customer is unhappy with their beverage preparation, then we are happy to remake it to their satisfaction.”

Starbucks’ response is shady. They never address the actual issue at hand. While it’s nice to hear they are proud to serve quality drinks, that does not dismiss this case. The excuse that hand-crafted foods are privy to size variation is outrageous. Foods and beverages served at any restaurant need to be of consistent portion size. Consistency is key when running restaurants. Unfortunately, skimping out on food isn’t anyone’s cup of tea, or cup of coffee in this case.

Big food corporations should have a higher obligation to integrity and honesty than other restaurants. Their actions are affecting a larger number of people than say even the most sought after restaurants. Even though plenty of people have been burned by their hot coffee, Starbucks’ mendacity may be the biggest burn of all to their customers.