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Starbucks Sued for Allegedly Over-Icing Cold Drinks

Starbucks Sued for Allegedly Over-Icing Cold Drinks

Who knew ice leaves less room for a beverage? SPOILER: We all did.

Americans and their coffee law suits…

Chicago resident, Stacy Pincus, filed suit against coffee giant Starbucks. Her beef? She claims Starbucks, “has engaged in the practice of misrepresenting the amount of Cold Drink a customer will receive,” by adding too much ice to their iced beverages. Pincus and counsel are requesting class-action status.

Pincus says she would not have purchased Starbucks iced-drinks had she known she was getting less than the entire cup’s worth of coffee or tea beverage. The complaint claims, “in purchasing Cold Drinks from Starbucks retail stores, Plaintiff relied on Starbucks’ misrepresentations of material fact regarding the true amount of fluid ounces contained in the Cold Drinks. Plaintiff would not have paid as much, if anything for the Cold Drinks had she known that it contained less, and in many cases, nearly half as many, fluid ounces than claimed by Starbucks. As a result, Plaintiff suffered injury in fact and lost money or property.”

Do they not teach displacement in science classes anymore? In any case, Jacob Gershman summarized the allegations for the Wall Street Journal:

The lawsuit offers the example of a Starbucks venti-sized iced coffee, which it says typically costs $2.95 and comes in a plastic cup holding 24 fl. oz. Under Starbucks’ “standard practice,” coffee is filled to just above the head of the logo’s siren figure and the rest is cubes of ice. “Accordingly, a Starbucks customer who orders a Venti Cold Drink receives only 14 fluid ounces of that drink – just over half the advertised amount,” the complaint states.


Starbucks says customers can request less ice.

“Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it,” a company spokeswoman told CNN.

I worked for Starbucks through my college years. Their recipes accounted for the fact that the coffees and teas they serve are stronger than the average brew, and that a bit of melted ice brings the drink to its right flavor. Or at least that was the case over a decade ago. Do lazy baristas add too much ice and mismake drinks? Sure. Which is why I’ve never hesitated to request a drink be remade properly. If I’m shelling out $4 for one boozeless drink, it sure as hell better be made right. But a lawsuit?


In March, Starbucks was slapped with another class-action suit which alleged the coffee retailer intentionally underfills hot beverage cups, thereby ripping off unassuming customers. One of the dumber parts of that complaint (aside from the premise of the complaint itself)? It’s deplorable for a coffee purveyor to leave 1/4 inch between a 160 – 180 degree beverage and the top of the cup. This is not a ripoff, it’s what we used to call “common sense.” But if common sense were still a thing, the free market, not the legal system, would be used to express displeasure with a product. Alas…

Underfilled cup complaint:

Siera Strumlauf, et al. v. Starbucks Corp. by Legal Insurrection

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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Their response to the claim that they don’t have the right number of fluid ounces in the drink should be:


Shortly thereafter, you will have ONLY fluid in your cup, and it will be full.

    Milhouse in reply to Chuck Skinner. | May 3, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Shortly thereafter, you will have ONLY fluid in your cup, and it will be full.

    Um, no, it won’t be. Ice is less dense than water.

    Here’s another startling Starbucks “scam”: if you wait for your coffee to cool down it won’t be full either. It’ll be even emptier than it was when you bought it.

    See? They get you coming and going!

    They should add a count of discrimination to the lawsuit. Starbucks is taking unfair advantage the laws of physics to rip off ignoramus-Americans.

inspectorudy | May 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm

OMG! How many years have we all asked for a little less ice in our beverages to get a little more beverage? Where has this airhead been? I guess this means that in the future we will have to ask for two cups when we order so that we can get the advertised amount of fluid in one cup and the ice will be in the second cup. But wait! What about the trees?

    When you go through a McDonald’s drive-thru and they fill a Large (32 oz) cup 3/4 full of loose ice cubes before adding soda, you end up with about 20-22 oz of soda — approximately equivalent to a Medium cup. It’s common knowledge that unless you ask for less (or no) ice, you will necessarily (due to the laws of physics: two bodies of matter cannot occupy the same space) get a little less soda. If you DO ask for less (or no) ice, you may get the “correct” or “as advertised” amount of soda, but it will not be as cold or stay cold for as long as a properly-iced drink.

    But they’re not suing McD’s over this completely reasonable phenomenon.


Obviously America has too many lawyers.

I always order my sodas with no ice for 2 reasons. #2, I get more soda. #1, I really don’t like ice in my drinks. Except for pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris. The water used to make the sodas is refrigerated and cold enough.

I don’t drink coffee, iced or otherwise, but if I were to order an “iced” coffee, I would expect ice in it as part of the overall measurement of the drink size.

These folks would probably sue Warner Brothers because “The Neverending Story” actually ended.

    malclave in reply to Neo. | May 2, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    It not only ended, but they expected us to buy another ticket to watch Neverending Story 2!

Sorry, lady. When you order an “iced beverage”, the ice is an integral part of the beverage.

If you don’t like that, either ask for no ice, or ask them to remake it with your desired composition. And don’t even think about suing if an “iced beverage” made without ice at your request is not cold.

You just can’t please some people.

Q: What do you call an Iced Coffee without ice?
A: Coffee, but not necessarily Hot Coffee.

The problem is that the beverage temperature may not be as cold as you want or stay cold when held in your warm hands.

As a teenager I worked in a coffee shop. The way to make iced coffee is to feel the glass with ice completely and then pour the hot coffee.
When I make iced coffee myself I make the coffee iabout 1.5X strong. I pride myself on making better iced coffee than any coffe establishment in the vicinity.
Than again, I pride myself on making better pilaf, better stew and grilling better sausage. One day I will make my own sausage.

I thought that far from hiding its policy of not filling the coffee cup (unless you ask for it), Starbucks proudly advertises that policy because most people want room for milk.

buckeyeminuteman | May 3, 2016 at 7:48 am

The biggest ripoff in this story is that she willingly gave $4 to that hipster mecca for a single beverage, regardless of if it was full or not.

Can’t they argue that the drinks are hand crafted which makes precision impossible?

Common sense is not common.