Size does matter!

My favorite drink at Starbucks is Tazo Chai Latte (No Water, No Foam, Extra Hot). Most of the time I use the terms small, medium and large to suggest the cup size in which I would like to ingest my Tazo Chai Latte.

The Starbucks’ naming convention for small, medium and large sizes, as we all know, is: Tall, Grande and Venti. This, I utterly dislike. Why can’t they just call it the normal way? What’s the rationale behind inventing a new measurement system? (Apart from being different.)

Dave Barry, who writes a periodic (Ask Mister Language Person) in The Miami Herald, expresses his disagreement quite humorously here:

Unfortunately, we consumers, like moron sheep, started actually USING these names. Why? If Starbucks decided to call its toilets ”AquaSwooshies,” would we go along with THAT? Yes! Baaa!

Recently, at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Death March, Mister Language Person noticed that a Starbuck’s competitor, Seattle’s Best Coffee (which also uses ”Tall” for small and ”Grande” for medium) is calling its large cup size — get ready — ”Grande Supremo.” Yes. And as Mister Language Person watched in horror, many customers — seemingly intelligent, briefcase-toting adults — actually used this term, as in, ”I’ll take a Grande Supremo.”

Listen, people: You should never, ever have to utter the words ”Grande Supremo” unless you are addressing a tribal warlord who is holding you captive and threatening to burn you at the stake. JUST SAY YOU WANT A LARGE COFFEE, PEOPLE. Because if we let the coffee people get away with this, they’re not going to stop, and some day, just to get a lousy cup of coffee, you’ll hear yourself saying, ”I’ll have a Mega Grandissimaximo Giganto de Humongo-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong decaf.”


By the way, talking about cup sizes at Starbucks, only recently I discovered that Starbucks also have Short size cups (smaller than the Tall size). They don’t advertise Short size on their price boards, which has prices for Tall, Grande and Venti size cups only. Below is the liquid content of each size:

Short = 8 ounces

Tall = 12 ounces

Grande = 16 ounces =1 pint

Venti = 20 ounces

Considering this, the Grande makes some sense as it corresponds to 1 pint. And Venti actually means twenty in Italian, so there’s some sanity in calling it a Venti. But what’s the logic behind Tall? It is named “Tall” because it’s taller than the smallest size? If so, I find the logic quite absurd, and non-intuitive when there are two other sizes available that are taller than Tall itself.

I am going to stick with the Small, Medium and Large. Let Starbucks call them whatever they want.


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