This class action brings suit against a number of coffee companies and the large retailers that sell their products. The complaint alleges that these companies offer coffee varieties that are labeled as Kona coffee, when the contents do not contain genuine Kona coffee.
The class for this action is all consumers who, during the applicable statute of limitations period, bought coffee falsely labeled as Kona coffee which was made or sold by any of the defendants named in this action.
The coffee companies or brands include Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee, Boyer’s Coffee Company, Magnum Exotics, Mulvadi Corporation, Copper Moon Coffee, Hawaiian Gold, Cameron’s Coffee and Distribution Company, Maui Coffee Company, World Market’s private brand, and Kroger’s Kivu brand. Some of these companies market coffee under different brand names, such as
The complaint also names as defendants the retailers Costco, Cost Plus/World Market, Kroger, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Albertsons, Safeway, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Sprouts Farmers Market.
Real Kona coffee is special and rare. It is grown on the Big Island of Hawaii, which has only 3,800 acres of land dedicated to coffee production. The yearly supply of Kona coffee is only 0.01% of the world’s coffee production.
The distinct flavor of this coffee come from the area’s elevation, rainfall, nearness to the Pacific Ocean, moderate temperatures, sunshine, and volcanic soil.
The complaint alleges that the coffees that the defendants make and sell are not genuine Kona coffees. It claims that some of the coffees have small amount of genuine Kona in them and others have none.
How can this be tested? Genuine Kona coffee contains high concentrations of certain elements and low concentrations of others. Scientists look at the ratio of concentration of pairs of these elements—barium to nickel, strontium to zinc, cobalt to zinc, and manganese to nickel.
The long complaint shows scatter plot charts for these ratios for each of the coffee companies named as defendants. The scatter plots show a concentration of blue dots for samples of genuine Kona coffee, and then red diamonds for the products in question that are well outside of the Kona concentration area.
For example, the complaint looks at Maui Coffee Co.’s two Kona varieties, Kona and Kona Macadamia Nut. The bags are labeled “100% Kona Coffee” and “100% Kona Macadamia Nut.” All of the Maui samples are outside of the main concentrated area of Kona samples, and only one is anywhere near them. This suggests that the products contain little or no real Kona coffee.
Similar results are displayed for the other named coffee companies.
The complaint alleges breaches of warranties, fraud, and intentional misrepresentation, among other things.