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Graphic by: Cayla Cochran

Earlier this year, a policy change regarding Starbucks’ fruit-and-juice Refreshers mandated baristas charge customers an extra $1 for any Refresher ordered without water. Six of the twelve Refreshers on the Starbucks menu did not actually include the fruits that are promised–or at least mentioned–in its names, according to a lawsuit. A judge granted the lawsuit permission to proceed.

The plaintiffs, Joan Kominis and Jason McAllister, said in the complaint filed in August 2022 that they had each ordered a Strawberry Açai Lemonade Refresher and a Strawberry Açai Refresher without lemonade, respectively. They had been dismayed to learn the drinks were devoid of actual açai.

Other items on the Starbucks menu up for debate in this case include the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher and the Pineapple Passionfruit Refresher as both lack their respective mango and passionfruit in the ingredients.

The customers reported the coffee chain involved them in “False and deceptive practices in the marketing and sale of a number of its Starbucks Refresher Products, which are marketed as fruit-based beverages available for sale at Starbucks’ brick-and-mortar locations.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit asserted they paid a premium price for the drinks, which they would not have bought if they had known some of the specified fruits were absent.

In contrast, they claimed the products’ main ingredients are sugar, water and concentrated grape juice. None of which they would have been willing to spend the same price for.

Starbucks argued the names of the beverages refer to their flavor and not necessarily the contents they contain in an attempt to have the case dismissed. This attempt was rejected by U.S. District Judge John Cronan, who allowed the other nine of the 11 complaint cases to proceed while dismissing two of them. 

As of now, Starbucks will proceed to face the rest of the other allegations. Stay tuned for other updates on.

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