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Should Coffeehouses Do Something About Drink Loopholes?

At some Starbucks and other coffeehouses across the country, there are worse things brewing than bitter coffee — namely, nasty disputes over customized coffee drinks.

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out that customized drinks at Starbucks often cost less than specialty drinks. The customer profiled realized that after years of paying $3.90 plus tax for her skinny Cinnamon Dolce latte, she could make the same drink — for $0.40 less — by requesting a nonfat latte with a shot of cinnamon syrup. When her baristas caught on, they refused to cooperate with her order, charging her the price of the specialty drink instead.

Earlier this year, another drink was at the center of online coffee controversy. The ghetto latte, which is a double-shot of espresso (usually on ice) made into a latte with free milk and cream at the condiment bar, often costs less than half the price of a latte ordered by name.

Starbucks Corporation has responded with mixed answers. In the past, the company has said, "We trust our customers to make the choices that are right for them." Yet when prompted by the Star Tribune, a Starbucks rep stated that customers "should be charged the corresponding premium drink price."

Where do you stand? Should baristas be able to refuse requests for orders such as espresso on ice? Is Starbucks ripping off customers for so-called premium drinks? Or are customers taking advantage of the Starbucks ordering system?


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