May 11, 2010

So how is tall small again?

I haven't seen Role Models, the movie from which this clip is taken, but I feel pretty confident in saying that I've just posted the 
best part. Comedy works best when it's relatable. Thus that scene works because Paul Rudd (KU grad, by the way) is 
expressing a frustration held by many.

And for what it's worth, he just so happens to be right. Tall means, well, it's English; I think you can figure that one out. 
Grande is spanish for large, or big, or something like that. And venti is just the Italian word for 20.

Great. But why? Because Starbucks is modeled after Howard Shultz's vision of a European coffee house, thus he sought 
to invoke the sorts of names one might find there. Which wouldn't be quite so complicated, if American's didn't like their 
food and beverages so large. In europe, one might order a coffee or cappuccino in a 6-8 oz serving. That would be the 
norm, in fact. Starbucks does have an 8 oz cup, which they call a short. You have to ask, but I recommend
doing so, if you value flavor over quantity.

Thus if there's a short, albeit hidden, the next step up is a tall. Again, in Europe, a 12 oz beverage would be fairly
substantial. And a grande, which is 16 oz, would be pretty huge. No one would ever dream of ordering a 20 oz coffee, so 
there was no appropriate European name to borrow for the venti.

Now that all kind of makes sense, until you glance over at the iced drinks. Starbucks' largest iced cup size is 24 oz, yet 
is still called a venti. Thus in Starbucks land, are we to assume that venti just means large, and not 20?

Frankly, I don't know. And I don't care either. I'e never actually met a barista who insists that you order a drink 
with the shop's exact lingo. But if you want to blend in, just read the menu board. My personal preference, and what
I think is easiest, is just to order drinks using numbers instead of names. Small can be confused, whereas 8 oz is 8 oz is 8 oz.

1 comment:

  1. A thousand apologies to those of you who managed to wade through that formatting nightmare. I've fought it this way and that, and can't manage anything better.