What to Know About Starbucks Cup Sizes in 2022

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Have you ever wondered why you have to order a tall, grande, or venti latte at Starbucks, instead of the standard small, medium, and large? The sizes actually have a history behind them.

When it comes to Starbucks cup sizes, you may be getting more than you bargained for when you order. With sizes like tall, grande, and venti, it can be hard to tell what size you’re ordering and how much you’re actually getting. Sometimes Starbucks drink sizes seem like a company secret, right up there with the signature Starbucks logo.

And there might be even more Starbucks sizes than you thought. According to the Starbucks website, order sizes can range from “short” to “trenta cold.” While you’re brushing up on your coffee facts over a cup of Joe, make sure you read up on some of these other food facts.

What’s the biggest cup size at Starbucks?

The largest cup size at Starbucks is a 31-ounce trenta, which is only available for iced coffee or tea drinks. Trenta means 30 in Italian. Fun fact: A trenta cold brew has 360 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of five shots of espresso.

Starbucks cup sizes graphicRD.com

What are the sizes of Starbucks cups?

  • Demi (3 oz.)
  • Short (8 oz.)
  • Tall (12 oz.)
  • Grande (16 oz.)
  • Venti (20 oz. for hot drinks, 24 oz. for cold drinks)
  • Trenta (31 oz.)

Starbucks size: demi

Demi is the baby three-ounce cup used for espresso shots. While three ounces seems tiny, a standard shot of espresso is only one ounce, so it’s the perfect size for a single or a double shot, which is still just two ounces.  Demi is short for “demitasse,” meaning “half-cup” in French.

Starbucks size: short 

This secret menu eight-ounce cup used to be on the regular menu, but as Starbucks sizes grew, its popularity diminished until it was taken off. That being said, most Starbucks do stock this size for hot drinks if you’re looking for a smaller amount of your daily coffee. According to EnjoyJava, six ounces is the standard amount of liquid in one cup of coffee, so a short holds slightly more than that.

Starbucks size: tall

Tall is the smallest Starbucks coffee size on the regular menu, at 12 fluid ounces. Tall espresso beverages like lattes, mochas, or macchiatos come with a single shot of espresso unless you specify that you’d like another—so they’re the same amount of caffeine as the short, but with more milk or other non-caffeinated drink. A tall is equivalent to two cups of a standard six-ounce coffee.

Starbucks size: grande

If you order a grande, you’ll get 16 fluid ounces of any hot or cold beverage. Grande espresso drinks at Starbucks come with two shots of espresso, and it’s equivalent to two and a half (six-ounce) cups of coffee. Or if you’re not really a coffee person, you may want to try a chai tea.

Starbucks size: venti

Starbucks venti comes in two variations: a venti hot is 20 ounces, equal to a little more than three (six-ounce) cups of coffee; and venti cold, which is 24 ounces. The reason venti cold is larger than venti hot is that cold drinks include ice (unless you specify otherwise), so you get the same amount of beverage plus room for ice, rather than paying for less beverage plus ice. A cold venti espresso drink comes with three shots of espresso, but a hot one only has two unless you ask for a third.

Starbucks size: trenta cold

The largest Starbucks coffee size, a trenta cold contains 31 fluid ounces and is only available in specific iced beverages like iced coffee and cold brew. This can be the equivalent of three or four cups of coffee, depending on the amount of ice.

Where do Starbucks cup sizes come from?

So why do we order a tall, grande, or venti coffee instead of the typical small, medium, or large? This common coffee conundrum falls among the many “unexplained Starbucks quirks.” Seriously, what’s the deal with these unusual Starbucks cup sizes?

Legend has it that former Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz took a trip to Italy in 1983, where he was “captivated by the romance of the Italian coffee bar,” according to the Daily Mail. So much so, in fact, that he decided to emulate it in the United States with his own coffee shop, which he called Il Giornale.

With his shop, Schultz “wanted to convey a different image, something far more exotic than a simple cup of joe,” author Karen Blumenthal wrote in her book Grande Expectations. And “since the stores were designed around the concept of Italian coffee bars, [Schultz] wanted distinctive names” for the beverages to honor that heritage, hence the unconventional Italian terms like macchiato, latte, and grande.

Il Giornale eventually expanded into the Starbucks franchise as we know it today. But the story doesn’t end there. In the ‘90s, Starbucks’ menu had only three drink sizes: short, tall, and grande. Short essentially correlated with small, tall was medium, and grande was large. The introduction of the venti size demoted the tall—making it the new short—and removed the short altogether. However, you can still order a “short” at most Starbucks locations today. Surprised? Don’t miss 13 more secrets your barista won’t tell you.

Now that we’ve solved the mystery behind Starbucks’ cup sizes, here’s another one: Why can’t the baristas spell anyone’s name right? Our guess: You might be guilty of committing one of their biggest pet peeves.

Next, read up on how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.

Additional reporting by Emma Taubenfeld and Isabel Roy.

Sources:

  • EnjoyJava: “How Many Ounces in a Cup of Coffee?”
  • Daily Mail: “When small became tall: How Starbucks drink sizes got their names”

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.