Coffee chains skimping on beverage quantities

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Coffee chains skimping on beverage quantities

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That Starbucks Americano might come in a grande cup, but that doesn’t mean it’s full.

In its seventh Consumer Report this year, the Korea Consumer Agency said yesterday it found major coffee chains are selling smaller amounts of liquid than they set as their standard amount.

The agency investigated nine coffee chains, including U.S. brands Starbucks and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and local brands A Twosome Place, Caffe Bene and Angel-in-us Coffee by evaluating 30 cups of Americanos and Caramel Macchiatos, the most popular beverages, from each store.

All 30 cups of Starbucks’ tall-size Americano fell short of the standard 355 milliliter (12 ounce) in volume indicated by the company, the agency found.

The amount of the beverage contained in a 355 milliliter cup should weigh 355 grams, but the average amount stood at 309 grams.

On average, an Americano sold at the nine coffee chains was 60 grams short of the standard volumes set by each company.

A Twosome Place, a local coffee chain run by CJ Group, was the least consistent in the quantity of its beverages.

The difference in the amounts of regular-size Americanos sold at the chain was 83 grams, the largest difference among the nine chains. A regular-size Americano is supposed to be 354 grams at this coffee brand.

Lucky consumers would get 339 grams, while some unlucky ones would get 256 grams, even though they all pay the same 3,800 won ($3.34) for the regular-size coffee.

Amounts of caffeine contained in coffee beverages at the investigated chains were also inconsistent, providing consumers with different quality, the agency said.

Italian brand Caffe Pascucci’s regular-size Americano contained the largest amount of caffeine at 196 milligrams.

Locally grown Tom N Toms Coffee sells Americanos with the least amount of caffeine, 91 milligrams per cup.

“The coffee chains are not complying with their recipes, which has resulted in inconsistency in quality and quantity of coffee beverages,” the agency said. “The companies are being negligent in managing the quality of their products, which is a serious problem,” it said.

“There is some misunderstanding, since we indicate the size of cups, not the amount of coffee,” said an official at Starbucks Korea.

“Amounts of beverages can be different, since they are handmade by baristas,” the official said.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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