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Grande illusion? Starbucks lattes are 1/4 underfilled, lawsuit claims

A new lawsuit alleges Starbucks lattes are approximately 25 percent underfilled. Rossen Reports measures them in laboratory beakers.
/ Source: TODAY

Are you really getting what you pay for in your morning latte?

A new lawsuit alleges Starbucks lattes are "approximately 25 percent underfilled," calling it "fraud." And it's not just variations by different baristas, the lawsuit says; it's Starbucks' own "standardized recipe."

The official Starbucks menu in stores lists a grande latte at 16 fluid ounces. Rossen Reports bought the same grande latte at six different Starbucks locations, then measured them in laboratory-grade beakers after allowing the foam to settle. The results were revealing.

Starbucks told NBC News that the lawsuit and Rossen Reports' experiment are "unscientific" and "without merit."

The Rossen team consulted two labs who helped devise the method, but Starbucks said it "ignores how lattes are composed and their physical attributes when handed to the customer," and that "the hand-prepared nature of our beverages increases the likelihood of variations in the cup."

"Maybe an ounce or two at a time," said consumer expert Edgar Dworsky, "but times how many million cups, times how many consumers, times how many weeks a year? It's big bucks out of consumers' pockets and into Starbucks' pockets."

The best advice? Next time you get a latte, open the lid and look at how much is inside. 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.

To suggest a topic for an upcoming investigation, visit the Rossen Reports Facebook page.