Starbucks says a recently filed lawsuit that claims its lattes are underfilled is meritless, but the coffee giant clearly hasn't heard the end of it: NBC's Today Show picked up the story and ran with it this morning, sending its investigative arm Rossen Reports to see how much Starbucks customers are really getting for their money.
They visited half a dozen Starbucks stores and purchased grande lattes, which the menu says are 16 ounces. They then used lab beakers to measure how much each cup contained (after the foam "settled") and found none of them measured up to the given amount. A couple came close, but others were 12 ounces or even less — matching up with the claims made in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. district court of Northern California, which says that Starbucks systematically serves customers lattes that are 25 percent smaller than what the menu says.
We are disappointed with the unscientific testing used for this report and cited in plaintiffs’ lawsuit, all of which are without merit. When our customers order a café latte, they expect a hand-crafted beverage containing espresso and steamed milk, topped with a layer of milk foam. Any allegation that our beverage volumes reduce as they cool ignores how lattes are composed and their physical attributes when handed to the customer. At Starbucks, we prepare café lattes one person, one cup at a time and our café experience is highly individualized to each customer. Those customizations and the hand-prepared nature of our beverages increases the likelihood of variations in the cup. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it.
Indeed, a fresh latte comes capped with a layer of milk foam that should account for at least part of the size disparity; and for Starbucks' drinks to actually measure up to the sizes listed on the menu they'd have to be filled right to the brim of the cup, which would almost certainly result in more of those pesky hot coffee lawsuits.
"If you don't think you got the full amount, Starbucks says to just ask them to make it again for you; they're happy to do it," says the Today Show. Of course, the people behind the underfilled latte lawsuit are in pursuit of a lot more than just a couple additional ounces of espresso and milk: The class-action suit is seeking more than $5 million.
Watch Rossen Reports put Starbucks' lattes to the test on the Today Show, below: