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Starbucks Is Getting Sued For Underfilling Lattes

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We all know that feeling—you're waiting to drink that delicious, piping hot Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, but it needs to cool down a bit so that you don't end up burning your tongue. To help speed up the process, you take off the lid...only to see that that your latte is not filled to the tippity-top. Disappointingly, it's pretty much a quarter empty already.

Although it's not the end of the world, an underfilled coffee is still pretty upsetting. You think to yourself, “I spend more money on coffee than basically anything else, couldn't they at least completely fill the cup?”

That is exactly what two California customers thought when they decided to sue the Seattle-based coffee giant for underfilling their lattes.

According to the Guardian, Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles filed a lawsuit that challenged Starbucks' instructions to its baristas to leave one-quarter of the cup empty. Company-wide instructions apparently tell employees to pour milk only to the "fill line" in the pitchers they use to heat milk. This practice consistently leaves lattes underfilled. Starbucks' policy, which was adopted in 2009 in an effort to save money on milk, ends up ripping off customers who do not truly receive the amount of coffee that they paid for.

"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," Strumlauf and Robles said in the suit.  

The lawsuit, which may have seemed silly at first, passed its first roadblock when U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson ruled that the class action lawsuit was rational enough to continue to a trial.

"If all Starbucks lattes are made pursuant to a standardized recipe which results in the lattes being uniformly underfilled, and Plaintiffs allege that they purchased lattes, it is reasonable to conclude that – even without measuring – Plaintiffs' lattes were underfilled," Henderson said, according to The Wall Street Journal, in perhaps the most proper language ever to speak of a Caffè Latte. 

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said that the company believes the basis of the lawsuit is unfounded. According to Time, Borges said that because customers can always ask to have their drink remade if they are unsatisfied, there is no real wrongdoing.

What started as an underfilling of steamed milk has ruined enough days to become a full-fledged lawsuit—one that may mean trouble is brewing (yes, pun intended) for the coffee empire. 


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