Late RIP: Stella Liebeck, the McDonald's "Coffee Lady"

I don’t have a link, but I read recently that she died last August at the age of 92. Her infamous coffee spill occurred 12 years earlier.

And I meant to post this in MPSIMS, but who cares. . . .

Agreed Earl. I’d add in a few things I hope she died of, but this isn’t the PIT.

The woman got third degree burns for christs sake. There was no earthly reason to serve coffee at the temperature it was being served at (190 degrees!)

I don’t know if we really want to get too deep into this since it’s over and done with, but I’ll throw this out for your perusal:



I’ve heard it cited anywhere from 170 to 190.

IS 190 unusually hot? What’s the usual serving temperature of coffee? Maybe some people make it different, but mine is always scalding when you first pour it. What’s the usual termperature - 150? 130? 180?

For the people who only heard the “Woman got a kabillion dollars because she spilled her own coffee on herself” part of this:

I wonder just how many other folk got much less serious burns and never claimed, I reckon plenty of us have had mouth scorching from those fruit pie things that seem to be made of molten fruit flavoured tar, and it takes so long to cool down enough to eat.

You know, my grandfather was burned by some hot coffee. He was in a rest home and had wheeled himself over to get a cup of coffee. The pot closest to him was empty so he reached to get the next one further over. It was not a good idea, he managed to spill it on his legs and sustained some pretty nasty burns.

Most healthy young people would not have been burned anywhere near as severely as my grandfather. He was ninety four and had fragile skin. That turned what should have been a burn requiring a little burn ointment into a trip to the hospital and a bit of surgery. He didn’t sue either. He knew good and well coffee was blasted hot and had brought it down on his own fool self, instead of waiting for an attendant.

The McDonald’s lady was eighty, and while her skin probably wasn’t as delicate as my grandfather’s at 94, I know from what my 64 yr old mother goes through, 80 has still got to damage easily. I wonder if that was considered during the trial?

I don’t think McDonald’s did anything wrong. People can be complete idiots, a momentary lapse in judgement, or simply have a no-fault accident and get hurt from just about anything (think about it-- that little girl died playing Chubby Bunny. Killed by a marshmallow!).

That McDonald’s served that much coffee and had so few resultant injuries, says to me they were just going about normal business practices. You can be doing something exactly the way you should and somebody’s still going to get hurt. The coffee lady was taking a risk. She knew that coffee was hot. She knew it was a risk to open the cup while it was between her legs. If it’d been up to me, based on what I know of the incident, I’d not have awarded her a dime.

But I am sad to hear she’s died. If she actually has.

Moving thread from IMHO to MPSIMS.

I read some years ago about a couple of scientists who developed the ultimate coffee machine, they spent something like $100K designing it, and one of the things that they said was that if you can smell the coffee as it sat in the pot, then it was too hot because that meant that the elements of coffee which give it it’s flavor were evaporating away. McDonald’s always had a reputation for hot coffee before the woman got burned, and I can remember my parents bitching about how hot the stuff was, when we stopped there for breakfast while travelling.

As a coffee addict, I have to say that I don’t like blistering hot coffee, I prefer mine at a much cooler temp, where I can pour it into my cup and drink it immediately. The stuff that’s at near boiling when it comes out of the pot always tastes like crap when it cools down to a tolerable temp.

Come on. I can smell coffee before you’ve even started brewing it. You can smell an open bag of ground coffee from across a room.

Yes, and if you leave that bag open for too long, it’ll ruin the coffee. They vacuum pack coffee to keep air out of it so it’ll last longer on the shelf.

There seems to be a perfect temperature to drink coffee, and finding it every once in a while is like finding a $20 bill in your coat pocket. It’s hot, just a teeny bit too hot to drink, enough to toast your throat and mouth when you gulp it down, but not burn.

Every once in a while my coffee is that perfect temperature, and I gulp it down like it’s going out of style.

This woman had the courage to take a stand against a HUGE corporation and beat them down.

A little old lady.

That took balls.

She is a quiet hero, IMHO.