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September 3rd, 2008 Anna Dukehart | News Stories
 

The Coffee Files

That daily cup of joe is burning a hole in your gut. What about your wallet?

     
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It’s no secret that “cheater pints”—those tall glasses of beer that are supposed to contain 16 ounces of alcohol but really have only 14—have been disgracing local watering holes for years (see “Caveat Drinkor,” WW, June 18, 2008).

But that made us think: Are Portlanders being cheated by their baristas—as well as their bartenders? In Wisconsin, reporters with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently discovered not all “16 ounce” cups of coffee are created equal.

To find out if that was true here, WW decided to perform an undercover test last week of 12 coffeehouses in Portland. At each of the locations, we purchased 16-ounce cups of coffee and declined “room” for cream. Once outside, we secretly measured how much liquid the cups contained to see if the cafe’s 16-ounce cups actually contained 16 ounces of liquid.

The results were surprising, but for a good reason.

Why? Two out of three of the 16-ounce cups of coffee we purchased were not filled to the top. Only three coffee joints gave us completely full 16-ounce cups of coffee—Boyd’s Coffee in the Pearl, Starbucks on Northeast Broadway and Common Grounds in Southeast. At Albina Press we were allowed to pour our own.

But all of the stores were using 16-ounce cups, as advertised, the java joints that did short us did so only by the tiniest margins. If we lost money, it was only a couple of pennies.

Here are the results:


True Brew

3370 SE Milwaukie Ave.

Ordered Guatemalan Organic Coffee @ $1.75 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Tiny’s

1412 SE 12th Ave.

Ordered Stumptown Coffee @ $1.85 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Common Grounds

4321 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Ordered Cafe Umbria coffee @ $1.70 for 16 oz.

Received 16 oz.

Starbucks

1441 NE Broadway

Ordered Pike Place Blend @ $1.75 for 16 oz.

Received 16 oz.

Peet’s

1510 NE Broadway

Ordered Gaia Organic @ $1.80 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Albina Press

4637 N Albina Ave.

Ordered Stumptown Panama Carmen Estate @ $2.25 for 16 oz.

Self-serve: We poured 16.5 oz.

Bikini Coffee Co.

520 SW 5th Ave.

Ordered house blend @ $1.60 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Portland Coffee House

603 SW Broadway

Ordered Panache Brand @ $1.60 for 16 oz.

Received 15.66 oz.

Nordstrom Espresso Bar

701 SW Broadway

Ordered Riva Coffee @ $1.60 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Armory Cafe

128 NW 11th Ave.

Ordered Nossa Familia Coffee @ $2.25 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Sweet Masterpiece

922 NW Davis St.

Ordered Bad Beard Blend @ $2 for 16 oz.

Received 15.75 oz.

Boyd’s Coffee

404 NW 11th Ave.

Ordered Boyd’s Coffee @ $1.60 for 16 oz.

Received 16 oz.

 
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