Starbucks pours fewer drops of drip per cup

Bloomberg

A cup of Starbucks coffee in Japan just got smaller.

Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd., an affiliate of the world’s largest coffee shop operator, said it has reduced the amount of drip coffee it pours into each cup by 9 mm, reflecting customers’ requests to avoid spills and add room for milk.

The move risks angering consumers. A small cup of drip coffee costs ¥300, which works out to more than double the $1.70 paid after tax in Seattle, where Starbucks Corp. is based. Starbucks Japan has raised prices three times since 2006, bucking the deflation that has squeezed growth in the world’s third-largest economy.

“I like the taste of Starbucks, but it’s a bit expensive,” said Osamu Kawaguchi, 50, who runs an air conditioning company in Saitama Prefecture. “At that price I’d prefer more coffee,” he said after buying two cups of drip at an outlet in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Starbucks Japan, which increased prices for some smaller drinks in 2011 to reflect higher costs of ingredients, including coffee beans, posted a record profit of ¥3.2 billion for the six months that ended Sept. 30. It was operating 965 outlets around the country as of Sept. 30.

A short drip coffee purchased at a Starbucks store in Tokyo’s Marunouchi Building on Tuesday was filled to within 20 mm of the top, lower than the new guideline of 15 mm. Previously, the surface of the coffee was only 6 mm below the rim.

The move was not prompted by cost cutting, Tokyo-based spokesman Norio Adachi said by phone.

Adachi said Starbucks Japan will take feedback on the change into consideration and honor any requests to fill cups higher.