A Grande Disappointment: Starbucks Underfills Your Lattes

Recent studies have discovered that coffee consumption actually has many benefits.

Starbucks is arguably one of the most popular coffee shops across the country, and often the go-to coffee spot for many NYU students cashing in their dining dollars. But regular patrons everywhere may have asked themselves this question at least once: Does my drink feel lighter than usual?

If so, they are not alone.

Two latte drinkers from California, Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles, purchased their drinks at a Starbucks and discovered they were underfilled, which led to them filing a lawsuit, according to Fortune. Even worse, this is not an isolated case. Apparently, not properly filling coffee cups has become a standard across Starbucks stores. 

According to The Seattle Times, Starbucks began standardizing their recipe in 2009 in order to cut down costs of milk. The recipe now requires a ‘fill-to’ line respective to the ordered size and has a separate serving cup for shots of espresso. Milk foam takes up one-quarter inch and another one-quarter inch is left as free space.


Strumlauf and Robles filed a class action suit against the company on March 16, claiming that Starbucks had deliberately underfilled their lattes by 25 percent more than the company presents in their standardized recipe.

The company denied the claims in the lawsuit, stating that there may be variations of every drink on their menu.

“We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in an article on Eater. The spokesperson added that due to customizable drinks, there may be variations and that Starbucks’ policy requires baristas to remake drinks upon customers’ requests.

The question of underfilling concerns NYU’s Starbucks at Faye’s as well, as it is a popular location for students, faculty and staff alike.

For Angela Lee, a Steinhardt senior, checking the contents of her Starbucks beverage is not a regularity, but added that sometimes the weight of the drink was questionable.

“I only finish half of my coffee,” she said. “But sometimes, I felt that the the amount of coffee was really little. That happened once a month, every other month.”

But Steinhardt senior Lina Chappelle sympathizes with baristas making coffee drinks.

“I work at a different coffee shop in DUMBO, so I understand why it’s necessary to have accurate sizes,” Chappelle said, adding that the right amount of liquid is important in executing the quality of the drink.

“When you pull a shot, if you’re not pulling it right, it really affects the taste,” she continued. “Also, it’s not always the barista. It’s sometimes the machines.”

Jihyun Shin, a senior in Steinhardt, said that she doesn’t see Faye’s becoming part of the problem.

“I really like the employees there,” Shin said. “I don’t believe they would underfill deliberately. I trust them.”

Chappelle agreed, stating that the company’s otherwise positive reputation is hard to completely shake.

“Unless [Starbucks] did something really heinous, they’re not going to go under,” she said. “When you have a company this size, there’s only so much you can do to have the kind of maintenance control and to make sure everyone’s properly trained. At the end of the day, it’s just coffee.”

A version of this article appeared in the March 28 print edition. Email Yeho Hwang at [email protected]



  1. I don’t really trust SB any longer. After the deception and outright lies in the PR & advertising of their new “Rewards” program I would question just about everything now. These 2 YT videos opened my eyes to the deception behind their new “Rewards” program: http://tiny.cc/sbtrailer & http://tiny.cc/sbhijack. They outright lied to customers, telling them the new “Rewards” program was improved and was the answer to the main customer complaint. Most customer don’t even realize they’re are getting royally worked over.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here