Why Kroger Just Settled A Huge Coffee Lawsuit

Many coffee drinkers are particular about the brew in their mug. Beyond the simple difference between a cappuccino, espresso, or latte, the actual type of coffee beans matter to some people. From the region to the roasting, every bean is different. When a bag touts a particular label, consumers have an expectation of the product inside.

In 2019, a group of Hawaiian coffee farmers filed suit against various companies, including Kroger, for selling alleged counterfeit Kona coffee, per Legal Reader. Specifically, the trademark legal claim asserted that use of the term "Kona" on a label, when that particular coffee type was not in the bag, was a misrepresentation, damaged the Hawaiian farmer's potential earnings, and tarnished the label of Kona as a specialty coffee.

Specific terms have particular meanings. A generic cola is not the same as a Coca-Cola. That signature beverage has a special flavor which is unique to its brand. When a product lacks the ingredient on the label, it can be inferior or otherwise sub-par. Basically, this lawsuit sought to stop some companies from using the Kona label on coffee that does not contain the particular Hawaiian product. After recent developments, coffee connoisseurs will not have to settle for an ordinary brew.

Kroger coffee set to change its coffee labels

After being sued by some Hawaiian coffee farmers for misrepresentation, Kroger is set to make some changes to its coffee offerings. According to TopClassActions.com, Kroger settled the pending trademark claim against its alleged Kona coffee by agreeing to pay $13.5 million but the company does not admit any wrongdoing. In addition to the monetary payment, Kroger must "modify the labels of coffee products to correctly indicate their origin." These changes look to rectify concerns over "commodity coffee" being sold under the Kona designation.

When a bean has the Kona label, it denotes that the harvest is from a particular region and a specific percentage of that coffee must be in the blend. According to Coffee Affection, that designation can come with a higher price tag. Some people are willing to pay more for the particular flavor and aroma. After this settlement, Kona coffee fans should be confident that the next brew is full of that quintessential flavor.