Someone slapped Starbucks with $5 million lawsuit for saying their fruit drinks have fruits

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaSep 19, 2023 | 13:25

Someone slapped Starbucks with $5 million lawsuit for saying their fruit drinks have fruits

Starbucks defended itself by saying that it named its drinks based on their flavours, not the actual ingredients. Photo: dailyO

If you're someone who starts their day with a visit to a Starbucks store and occasionally contemplates the fruit juice menu as a coffee substitute, thinking you're kickstarting your day with real fruit, you might want to reconsider.

What's going on?

It appears that consumers are becoming more discerning, and relying solely on flashy advertising is losing its effectiveness.

Over the past few years, there have been several lawsuits against major companies like Wendy's and McDonald's, all revolving around allegations of false advertising. And now, in the latest development, Starbucks finds itself entangled in a similar controversy.


What's in a name?

  • Starbucks, the renowned beverage giant, is currently facing a lawsuit that accuses it of violating consumer protection laws by deceiving customers into believing that their popular "refresher" drinks contain all the fruits mentioned in their names.
  • This lawsuit, filed in the New York District Court, alleges that Starbucks has been able to charge premium prices for its "refreshers" line of fruit drinks, which actually consist of green coffee extract, water, and fruit juice.

  • The price hike is attributed to customers being misled into thinking that drinks like Mango Dragonfruit, Strawberry Açaí, and Pineapple Passionfruit contain real mango, açaí, and passion fruit, when they actually contain dragonfruit, strawberry, and pineapple.

  • Joan Kominis of Astoria, New York, and Jason McAllister of Fairfield, California, are leading this legal action. They claim that Starbucks has violated consumer protection laws in their respective states by charging higher prices for drinks with misleading names.

  • This legal action, initiated in August 2022, seeks a minimum of $5 million in damages. It was on Monday, September 18, that the judge ordered Starbucks to face this lawsuit.


According to the plaintiffs, they paid a premium price, ranging from $3.95 (INR 330) to $5.95 (INR 500), believing these drinks contained the ingredients indicated by their names.

Starbucks' response

  • Starbucks defended itself by stating that its drinks are named based on their flavors, not the actual ingredients. They argued that this should be clear to any reasonable customer, and their staff could have clarified any confusion in-store.
  • However, Judge Cronan pointed out that terms like 'mango,' 'passionfruit,' and 'açaí' are generally understood to imply both flavor and the presence of the ingredient itself.
Photo: Starbucks site with the display of their 'Mango Passion Fruit blend'/Starbucks
  • The judge also noted that while some Starbucks products do contain ingredients in their names—such as the Ice Matcha Tea Latte containing matcha and the Honey Citrus Mint Tea containing honey and mint—Starbucks' request to dismiss the case was denied by the New York Judge.

Not an isolated incident

Clearly, this is not the first instance of a consumer taking a company to court over false advertising. In July, Frank Siragusa from New York sued Taco Bell for $5 million, claiming that the Mexican pizza he ordered had significantly less beef and bean filling than depicted in the chain's advertising.

In December 2022, Siragusa, along with his legal team, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn against McDonald's and Wendy's, focusing on the disparity in the size of their burgers between advertisements and reality.

Last updated: September 19, 2023 | 13:29
    Please log in
    I agree with DailyO's privacy policy