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U.S. no longer the leader in coffee consumption, study finds

Despite Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Caribou Coffee shops dotting thousands of corners in America, the United States doesn't drink nearly as much as some countries.

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The U.S. ranks ninth in coffee consumption internationally.

The Netherlands is the nation that drinks the most of the hot beverage, CBC News reported. The rest of the top 10 includes Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia, Dominican Republic, Norway and Slovakia.

According to the news outlet, the data was compiled by combining the "volume of coffee per capita that retail stores sold to consumers and that food services outlets purchased to brew." CBC News said it found that colder weather usually equals more coffee being consumed.

"With the colder temperatures, long winters, what have you, waking up in the morning to a nice warm cup of coffee, oh, my God, it's tranquility,” Paul Stewart told CBC News.

Mark Strobel, a Euromonitor research analyst, told CBC News that the United States ranks ninth because while it does have its share of cold winters, hot drinks aren't being consumed as much in the warmer southern states. Robert Carter of the NPD Group in Toronto said people in the South usually choose to drink soft drinks instead.

"You can tell an American in Canada when they have Diet Coke for breakfast," he told CBC News.

Read more at CBC News.

Starbucks raises drink prices, will raise workers' wages

Video includes images from Getty Images and clips from WMAQ and WLS-TV. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

Starbucks employees are getting a raise this fall.

On Monday, the company's CEO announced all employees will get at least a 5 percent raise in base pay.

"Striking the delicate balance between profit and a social conscience is a responsibility I take personally," CEO Howard Schultz said in his letter to employees.

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The announcement came after an online petition started by a Starbucks employee in California recently picked up steam. The petition says labor cuts and underemployment have led to remarkably low employee morale, which in turn has negatively affected customer service.

The recent wage pressures are also part of a larger national push for a $15 minimum wage. Earlier this year, McDonald's felt similar pressure when advocacy group Fight for $15 protested near McDonald's Illinois headquarters during a shareholder meeting.

Starbucks employee raises will go into effect in October. Employees who have been with the company for at least two years will also get an increase in stock awards. Schultz also announced that employees can look forward to a looser dress code that is "designed to work well with the green apron."

Starbucks is also "planning a small price increase on select beverages" starting Tuesday, Credit.com reported.

It's unclear which drinks will be subject to the price increase, but a statement issued by the coffee chain on July 1 said some beverages will increase by 30 cents.

Starbucks said the increased prices appeared in some regions before Tuesday, when the nationwide raise was enacted.

"The price adjustment was prematurely entered into the point-of-sale systems in our U.S. company-operated stores," the statement says. "As a result, some customers were charged incorrectly. The maximum any customer could have been overcharged is 30 cents per beverage.”

Starbucks is encouraging customers who believe that they were overcharged to contact customer service at 1-800-782-7282, Credit.com reported.

Deals and freebies for National Doughnut Day

Caribou Coffee's parent company buys Krispy Kreme

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

JAB Beech, the company that owns Caribou Coffee, will acquire Krispy Kreme, JAB Beech officials announced Monday.

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The Luxembourg-based investment firm, which also owns Keurig and shares in Einstein Bros. Bagels and high-end shoe retailer Jimmy Choo, purchased the doughnut company in a deal worth an estimated $1.35 billion.

A senior partner at JAB said that the acquisition is part of the company's strategy to invest in brands with "significant growth prospects," the Associated Press reported.

Krispy Kreme's stock rose $4.06, more than 24 percent, to $20.92 on Monday afternoon. JAB will pay for each share of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., with a plan to close the deal in the third quarter this year

According to JAB Holdings, Krispy Kreme will continue to be independently operated from its headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The company said it will postpone its annual shareholders meeting, which was originally set for June 14.

Krispy Kreme, which was founded in 1937, has more than 1,100 locations internationally. About 300 of those are located in the United States, and other stores are located in countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Krispy Kreme said in March that it planned to open at least 120 new international locations and about 30 new shops domestically.

Starbucks being sued for too much ice in drinks

A lawsuit filed against Starbucks claims there's too much ice in its cold drinks.

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Stacy Pincus of Chicago filed the $5 million lawsuit on Wednesday, with claims that the coffee giant falsely advertises how much liquid is in its cold beverages.

“Starbucks’ cold drinks are underfilled to make more money and higher profits, to the detriment of consumers who are misled by Starbucks’ intentionally misleading advertising practices,” the lawsuit says. "(The company) is advertising the size of its cold drink cups on its menu, rather than the amount of fluid a customer will receive when they purchase a cold drink -- and deceiving its customers in the process."

It continues: "The word beverage is defined as a drinkable liquid. Ice is not a beverage by definition."

Pincus says Starbucks advertises its cold drinks by fluid ounce but that the numbers are only accurate after ice is added to the drink.

According to the lawsuit, a venti-sized cold drink is advertised as having 24 fluid ounces but only includes 14 ounces of the actual liquid. The rest, the suit says, is ice, sometimes leaving customers with only half the amount of drink they expected upon their purchase.

But Starbucks says the claims are "without merit."

"Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any 'iced' beverage. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it," said Jamie Riley, a spokesperson for Starbucks. 

The lawsuit is seeking monetary damages on behalf of everyone who has purchased an iced drink from Starbucks since 2006, Vox reported.

A lawsuit filed in March alleged Starbucks underfills its hot lattes by "approximately 25 percent."

Dunkin’ Donuts challenges Starbucks' new rewards program

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Dunkin’ Donuts is challenging its competition, rival coffee shop Starbucks.

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This week, the two corporate coffee-shop giants exchanged a few figurative punches in their nationwide loyalty programs.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News’, Dunkin’ Donuts waited until Monday night -- the eve of Starbucks’ rollout of its new loyalty program -- to unveil its new mobile app and a “DD Perks Rewards” promotion to help customers get a free drink faster.

The latest version of the Dunkin’ Donuts app allows users to pay with a virtual DD Card using Apple Pay at participating locations, as well as to earn loyalty offers and rewards and give gift cards, according to NRN.com.

New DD Perks members receive a free beverage and 125 points if they enroll in the program by April 21 plus 125 points on their second and third store visits when they pay with their enrolled DD cards.

Dunkin' explained the new rewards in a news release

"With the DD Perks Rewards program, guests earn five points for every dollar they spend on qualifying purchases at Dunkin’ Donuts when they pay using an enrolled Dunkin’ Donuts Card, either plastic or via the Dunkin’ mobile app. Once a member accrues 200 points, he or she receives a coupon for a free any-size beverage of their choice, redeemable at participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants. DD Perks members also receive a coupon for a free, any-size beverage upon enrollment and on their birthday. Additionally, throughout the year DD Perks members receive exclusive, personalized, special offers to earn bonus points for specific food and beverage purchases." 

"Our guests are the cornerstone of our brand, and we are committed to continuing to exceed their expectations," said Sherrill Kaplan, vice president of digital marketing and innovation at Dunkin’ Donuts. "Our DD Perks Rewards program, recognized as one of the most robust and fastest-growing programs of its kind in our industry, honors our extremely loyal fan base by making it seamless and affordable to earn free beverages quickly. With 4.3 million DD Perks members, we look forward to welcoming new guests and rewarding them with even more points to keep them running on Dunkin’.”

Starbucks launched a new loyalty program on Tuesday in which loyalty members will earn two stars for every dollar they spend, rather than earning one star per visit, as they did under the previous rewards program.

>> Starbucks customers are not happy about the company's new rewards program

The new program allows members to redeem a free item after accumulating 125 stars, which can be earned after spending more than $60.

Starbucks also upgraded its mobile app to include more personalized features.

Coffee stand workers pray with woman grieving husband

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A Washington woman who was grieving the loss of her husband had no idea that a normal visit to a local coffee stand would change her day for the better.

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"(I) snapped this picture while waiting in line at the Dutch Bros. (coffee stand) today," an onlooker wrote on Facebook. "Turns out the young lady in line ahead of us lost her 37-year-old husband last night." 

The witness, Barbara Danner, said the scene was one of "prayer and support."

According to KPTV, Dutch Bros. employees Pierce Dunn and Evan Freeman were trained not only to provide drinks and items to customers, but also exceptional customer service through genuine connections. 

When a customer approached the service window in tears, a female coworker told Dunn and Freeman, "She's just having a really bad day. Her husband passed."

"As soon as she said that, I was like, 'There's nothing more you need to say. We got this. We're going to do what we do every time we get someone who’s in pain or hurt. We're going to give them our love,'" Freeman told KPTV.

Freeman and Dunn gave the woman a free drink, and then they started to pray with her. 

"Basically, I just said, like, you know, I really want her to have peace over the situation … help the mourning of her and her family," Dunn said. 

That's when Danner took the picture. It has been shared on Facebook more than 100,000 times. 

Coffee stand owner Jessica Chudek said that when she heard about the story, she was filled with emotion, but she didn't know the incident occurred at the location she owned.

"I thought, 'That's great our company does that and we can show love out the window that way.' I started studying it a little more and I said, 'Wait, that's Evan and Pierce! That's my stand, those are my kids!' So it just brought me to tears right then," she said. 

"When I saw the picture, I (was) like, 'This is a normal day at work. We're doing what we do every day,'" said Freeman, who said he never thought the moment would gain viral attention.

"If every single person did an act of kindness or just had a smile on their face, the world would be a completely different place," said Dunn, who hopes to have inspired others. 

Snapped this picture while waiting in line at the Dutch Bros on 138th Avenue today. Turns out the young lady in line...Posted by Barbara Danner on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Starbucks accused of underfilling lattes in class-action lawsuit

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A class-action lawsuit filed March 16 by two Californians claims that Starbucks "knowingly and systematically" serves customers drinks that are falsely advertised as being larger than they are.

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"Starbucks lattes are approximately 25 percent underfilled," the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs, Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles, filed suit on behalf of purchasers of Starbucks lattes everywhere. Strumlauf and Robles allege that Starbucks doesn't use enough liquid in its standard latte recipe and that its cups aren't big enough to contain the amount of beverage stated on the company's size menu. They claim that by doing so, Starbucks violates consumer laws and is guilty of “negligent misrepresentation and fraud.”

"The serving cup used for grande beverages holds exactly 16 fluid ounces, when completely full," court documents read. "However, Starbucks’ standardized recipe for its grande latte calls to fill the serving cup up to 'one-quarter inch below cup rim.' Thus, when used in conjunction with its standardized recipes, Starbucks’ serving cups do not permit 12-ounce, 16-ounce, and 20-ounce lattes."

In short, the lawsuit claims that a tall latte doesn't come out to 12 fluid ounces, a grande doesn't equal 16 fluid ounces and a venti is less than the 20 fluid ounces that the company claims.

"By underfilling its lattes, thereby shortchanging its customers, Starbucks has saved countless millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold and was unjustly enriched by taking payment for more product than it delivers,” the complaint says.

"We are aware of the plaintiffs' claims, which we fully believe to be without merit," a Starbucks company spokesperson told Eater. "We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customized beverages, and we inform customers of the likelihood of variations."

The lawsuit includes Starbucks caffè lattes, flavored lattes, pumpkin spice lattes, egg nog lattes, skinny lattes, skinny flavored lattes, vanilla lattes and skinny vanilla lattes. If the suit is approved, it will be open to all U.S. class members who have purchased a Starbucks latte, according to Top Class Actions.

Read the lawsuit documents here.

A photo posted by Starbucks Coffee (@starbucks) on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:11am PST

Starbucks celebrates spring with limited-time cherry blossom frappuccino

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To celebrate spring, Starbucks is offering a new blended beverage Wednesday through Sunday. 

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Starbucks describes the Cherry Blossom frappuccino as "a blend of sweet strawberries and cream with white chocolate sauce and matcha drizzle, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of matcha." Matcha is a powdered form of green tea. 

The drink, inspired by the Japanese sakura tradition, has been offered in Japan since 2010. It will be available in the U.S. until Sunday, the official first day of spring. 

Starbucks' press release explains the drink's connection to Japanese culture:

"In Japan, cherry blossoms are the national flower and a symbol of renewal and simplicity. Families, friends and colleagues gather under sakura trees and enjoy picnics and parties under the delicate pink blooms, a tradition that dates back at least a thousand years. It is also time for new beginnings, marking both the coming of spring and the start of a new school year. Sakura festivals around the world honor the return of the cherry blossoms and celebrate Japanese culture."

Themed frappuccinos have become more common at Starbucks within the last year. The company offered a vampire-inspired frappuccino for Halloweeen last October and a birthday cake-themed frappuccino to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular drink. 

Starbucks customers are not happy about the company's new rewards program

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A big change to Starbucks' popular rewards program is upsetting many loyal customers. 

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Starting in April, customers will earn customers reward points based on the amount of money they spend at the company, the coffee chain announced Monday.

The current rewards system awards customers a fixed amount of points per transaction, regardless of how much money a person spends. 

The new program grant customers two points -- or stars as the company refers to them -- per dollar spent. Members will earn a reward after accumulating 125 stars.

The current program is said to be much simpler. Customers earn 12 stars -- the equivalent of 12 visits -- to get a drink or another treat for free.

The changes to the program mean customers will have to spend $62.50 before they can redeem a free item.

According to Starbucks, the change is a response to customer feedback.

But for customers who spend $4 per transaction, that means they'll have to visit a Starbucks store more than 15 times to reap the benefits of the new rewards program. Anyone who regularly gets just a $2 cup of coffee every morning before work will have to do so for a full month -- 32 trips -- before getting something for free.

Starbucks has responded to unhappy customers by asserting that there are other ways to earn stars, including purchasing Starbucks products in grocery stores and making in-store purchases on monthly "Double-Star Days." The company is also encouraging customers to explore the menu beyond drink choices. 

"If you occasionally buy a food item -- like breakfast, lunch or a pastry -- with your usual beverage, you'll likely earn free rewards just as fast or faster than you do today," Starbucks said.

Starbucks' rewards program, which began in 2009, has had a tremendous impact on the chain's mobile sales, which now account for about 6 million orders a month, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

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