Boiling coffee lawsuits – Woman Sues McDonalds : Other Coffee Stories

Boiling Coffee Lawsuits, and other urban myths

It seems there’s an urban myth for just about any occasion nowadays. With the birth of the internet, and the inevitable flow of unwanted spam, virus warnings and Nigerian bank hoaxes, it stands to reason that the number of urban myths would also take a spike upwards. So, with a view to clarifying the coffee-related myths out there, let-s go through the stories and figure out if they’re true.


This regularly rolled-out story is often used by people complaining about frivolous lawsuits in America. It goes, a woman buys a coffee at McDonalds, the lid comes off, it spills all over her and she sues for $2.9m v and wins.

The facts: Actually, the story is kind of true. The woman did sue, but only after she first tried to settle for $10,000. She probably deserved that, since the burns from the coffee actually required skin grafts to correct, forcing her to spend weeks in hospital. With that in mind, a ten grand settlement doesn’t seem so frivolous at all, but McDonald’s refused her request and forced her to seek restitution in court. Once there, the judge awarded her damages of $2.9 million, which was later reduced upon appeal to $480,000. In the end, the woman received even less than that, accepting a settlement offered by the company as being a fair compromise. The warning found on coffee cups is McDonald’s way of avoiding a future screw-up of this nature.


You’ve heard this one, right? It started out as a story about chocolate milk having bovine blood mixed in, with the explanation that the milking process makes cows sometimes bleed, and that only chocolate milk would disguise the appearance. Then, over the years, the story changed so that now, some people believe that Nescafe Blend 43 has cow’s blood thrown in as a secret ingredient. Why anyone would do that is beyond me, but that doesn’t stop the story.

The facts: there’s no cow’s blood in coffee. You may find trace elements of it in milk (hey, you never know when a cow might chafe), but generally you’re talking about an amount so infinitesimal that you’d have to drink 25 gallons of the stuff in one sitting to even be concerned.

What you WILL find in many brands of milk in the US is bovine growth hormone, a product sold by Monsanto that expands the udder of the cow by about 5-10%, thus creating more milk for the dairy farmer. The problem is, this product is a cow steroid, and most countries have banned it because the steroid passes through into the milk, the expanded udders leave the cows in pain, and they tend to get infected, which sullies the milk. So, if you’re a big milk consumer and you’re wondering why your breasts have started to swell – switch to espresso! :)


If you’ve ever been in Canada, you’ve no doubt stopped by a Tim Hortons fast food restaurant and wondered about the massive queues for coffee. The urban myth has always been that the company puts either MSG or nicotine in their coffee, to get people addicted and force them to come back. Others have said they put “the most caffeine allowed by law” in their coffee.

The facts: None of the above is true. Here’s how Tim Hortons creates such buzz for their coffee it’s cheap, it’s everywhere, and it’s really very good coffee. In their own words, “We do extensive testing and cupping of our coffee to ensure the highest quality standards are met, and now our people can extend that quality right into the roasting process here in Rochester – We start with the best possible Arabica beans from various countries of the world to create our special blend, and can follow those beans right through the roasting and packaging processes.

Starbucks take note.


  1. My theory is simple, if you want money, get a job and work instead of trying to rip off companies that then have to raise the prices of their products to cover the legal expenses from having to deal with these idiots.

  2. I personally tend to believe that the possibility that McDonald’s “coffee” has either MSGs or nicotine is fairly good. It wouldn’t at all surprise me.

  3. i think it is really rediculus for people to do that… make up a law suit with things they know will be hot or cold

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