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Starbucks tackles a new lawsuit on refresher beverages

Starbucks Refresher Lawsuit

The multinational coffee chain Starbucks is facing a new lawsuit regarding their refresher drinks not containing the actual fruit in the ingredients. Starbucks released a variety of refresher drinks in 2012 including the Strawberry Acai, Mango Dragonfruit, and the Pineapple Passionfruit. These cold drinks can be made with water, lemonade or coconut milk.

Plaintiffs Joan Kominis and Jason McAllister filed the lawsuit last year in August 2022. A federal judge has now ordered Starbucks to face this lawsuit, denying their request to dismiss. The two plaintiffs had ordered the Strawberry Acai refresher and after some research they later found out the drinks did not match up to the marketing. The Strawberry Acai refresher does not contain any actual Acai, the Mango Dragonfruit also does not contain any real mango, and the Pineapple Passion fruit does not contain actual passionfruit.

The Plaintiffs stated if they had known they were not getting the actual fruits listed in the names of these products they would have not ordered them. They also believe these drinks are overpriced for consumers considering there is no actual fruit included, just grape juice concentrate, water, and sugar. The refreshers are priced up to $5 and above for one drink.

“These missing fruit juices are important to consumers because they are premium ingredients, and consumers value them over the less nutritious and cheaper grape juice concentrate found in the products,” the legal filing states. 

The Plaintiffs argue that Starbucks drinks are expected to live up to their names because other menu items do. Starbucks hot chocolate actually contains cocoa, matcha lattes contain matcha, and the honey mint tea contains honey and mint.

Starbucks argues that “the fruits mentioned in the names of the refreshers were intended to describe the flavors oppose to describe the actual ingredients.”

U.S. District Judge John Cronan allowed nine of the 11 claims to proceed, stating that the Court has determined a significant portion of reasonable consumers could find the drinks’ advertising and names misleading.

The Plaintiffs are seeking up to $5 million dollars of damages as the case moves forward.