Class action: too much air in that Starbucks latte cup

Coffee giant Starbucks is said to use too low a “fill-to” line in latte cups and a class action filed in federal court in California wants money over that [Nation’s Restaurant News via Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]

More, Nick Farr/Abnormal Use:

Regardless of the merits of the short-pouring allegations, one particular allegation in the suit gave us pause. The plaintiffs allege that “Starbucks refuses to fill any hot beverage to the brim of the cup. Thus, under no circumstances will Starbucks ever serve a Grande Latte that actually meets the fluid ounces represented on the menu.” If we read that correctly, it sounds like the plaintiffs are actually suggesting that hot coffee should be filled to the brim of the cup to ensure that they are getting the full bang for their buck. We are guessing that had Starbucks done so, there would be a whole other class of plaintiffs clamoring for some massive hot coffee burn litigation. Maybe the plaintiffs should demand Starbucks use bigger cups and let the not filling to the brim policy stand for those who value safety.


  • OMG! I went to this classy restaurant, ordered a glass of pinot noir for $12, and it wasn’t even HALF full! Can you say class action?

  • Just as long as it has three (or more) shots of espresso in it, I’m happy.

    (Somebody has waaaay too much time on their hands That, or they have a newly minted law degree and they want to take it for a spin.)

    Just a thought.


  • Here’s a thought, if you don’t think you are getting what you paid for-take your business elsewhere, say McDonald’s, they are way more use to getting sued for their coffee.

  • I actually don’t see the complaint as ridiculous (although the likely result of $5 million for the lawyers, $5000 for the guy bringing the suit, and $0.50 coupons for everyone else will probably be ridiculous.) Normal variation is one thing, but this isn’t just variation – it’s consistently underpoured (allegedly). Seems to me that if they advertise a 16-oz latte, then they need to give you a 16-oz latte. And yes, they also need to not fill the cup to the brim, to avoid spills and burns.

    The two are not incompatible. If you need 2 oz of padding, then either advertise your latte as being 14 oz, or use a cup that can hold 18 oz.

  • I agree with David C’s suggestion. The 18-oz cup could be marked with an inconspicuous line at 16 oz, both to guide servers and reassure customers. And, if they are prudent, they would err on the side of generosity by setting the line a little high, perhaps 16.1 oz.

  • Has anyone validated that the cup is indeed 16oz full to the brim? It seems that it’s alleged but that Starbucks has not yet responded.

  • In many placers in the EU, wine is served in glasses where the volume is marked on the glass, about 1 cm below the rim. They sell the wine by the cl (hundredth of a liter/10ml) I don’t remember whether I have seen any coffee sold like that, but in Italy I certainly remember that the size of the espresso shots was absolutely minuscule – about the size of a tablespoon.

  • “16 oz cup of coffee” to me means a 16 ounce cup with some coffee in it. What they want is “16 oz of coffee in a cup.” BIG DIFFERENCE!