With over 6,000 stores in the U.S. alone, Starbucks has taken the coffee industry by storm since its creation in 1971. Known for their gourmet coffee products and other sugary drinks and pastries, Starbucks also is a pioneer in the “secret menu” world.
With so many choices of drinks available to coffee lovers and haters alike, you would think that choosing a cup size would be the least stressful part of the entire Starbucks experience. That’s actually not the case.
A Starbucks drink can come in over five cup sizes depending on whether the drink is hot, iced, or part of their secret menu. All this confusion over size may make you want to learn to brew your own espresso, but let’s get more into how you can better navigate Starbucks’ extensive menu and cup sizes.
What Are the Starbucks Cup Sizes?
Some people may not know what we are ordering when we say we want a “Trenta iced pumpkin spice latte.” So, what do these Italian Starbucks terms mean?
Starbucks offers drinks from as small as 8 ounces, all the way to gigantic 31 fluid ounce drinks, so you should have at least a vague idea of what you just got yourself into. Here’s a breakdown of the Starbucks cup sizes and their names.
Demi (3 Fl oz.)
The Demi is the smallest cup size available at Starbucks and is used exclusively for espresso shots. While 3 ounces may seem miniscule, it is actually large enough to hold up to a triple shot of espresso.
Short (8 fl oz.)
Asides from the Demi, the Short is the smallest of the Starbucks cup sizes and most menu boards don’t even list it- but it is available on their secret menu. The Short cup was one of the first sizes available, fitting with Visionaire Howard Shultz’s Italian inspiration. But now the larger drink sizes are more popular.
Interestingly, this size of coffee is now most commonly seen outside of the U.S. All of the hot coffee drinks are available at this cup size. However, if you are ordering a Cortado coffee this is the only size it comes in. The short cup is the perfect way to get your Starbucks fix at an affordable price.
Tall (12 fl oz.)
A Starbucks “Tall” drink is synonymous with what most people would call a small drink. The Tall was another of the original Starbucks cup sizes.
All the hot and cold drinks on the Starbucks menu are available at this size. And incidentally, this is the smallest size available for iced drinks.
If you ask for a small, you’ll get a tall. The Tall cup size is a good way to sample the world of Starbucks, but if you’re looking to feel satisfied by your coffee, a Grande drink may be a better fit.
Grande (16 fl oz.)
While Grande might mean large in Italian, at Starbucks it is their medium size. A Grande is about two cups of coffee. It’s plenty to keep your eyes open in long meetings or to give you a little extra push in the morning.
Once again, all the drinks on the Starbucks menu are available at this cup size. However, this area is where the menu begins to get a little strange.
A Grande is the largest size you can order a nitro cold brew drink in. The drink will lose some of its trademark aesthetics if you pour it into a cup that is too big. Although this seems to be a petty reason not to sell a specific drink, nitro cold brews are pretty high in caffeine and may not be the best to drink in large quantities anyway.
Venti Hot (20 fl oz.)
Starbucks’ hot Venti is almost two and a half cups of coffee. It is the largest size of hot drink they offer, since it is the largest insulated cup available.
This size of the venti cup is quite large and can keep you going for the entire day if you are just having one of those days.
Venti Cold (24 fl oz.)
The cold Venti is about three cups of coffee and is the large cup size for cold drinks. This drink is the largest size you can order a Frappuccino in.
Although you won’t order a larger Frappuccino size, you can order larger sizes in other cold drinks like the refreshers or Teavana products. This size and up are ideal for sharing with those around you.
Trenta (31 fl oz.)
Finally, the Starbucks Trenta size is the absolute largest drink you can order at a Starbucks (if they offer it). Trenta sizes are usually available in U.S. stores but can be hard to find outside of the U.S.
This size is also part of the secret menu, so don’t panic if you don’t see it on the menu board. Ask your local Starbucks if they carry this size. The Trenta size is only available for a limited range of cold drinks including Cold Brew, Iced Coffee, Starbucks Refreshers and the Teavana range.
Why Does Starbucks Have Their Unique Cup Sizing System?
Chances are, when you first started ordering at Starbucks, you were probably wondering, “why are these sizes in Italian and not English?” The answer can be boiled down to one person: Howard Shultz.
After a trip to Italy in 1983, Shultz became infatuated with the idea of a cup of coffee being more than just a cup of coffee. In Italy, coffee was an experience. Shultz was looking to imitate that experience when he bought Starbucks as a small San Francisco company in 1987.
At first, he had Short, Tall, and Grande on the menu to emulate the Italian feel he was looking for, but over time this changed to Tall, Grande, and Venti being the trademark sizes Starbuck customers order today.
The Short and the Trenta became secret sizes for those looking beyond the average Starbucks cup sizes for their drinks.
Commonly Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the peculiarities of the Starbucks sizing system.
How many Espresso shots are in each Starbucks cup size?
Why are cold and hot venti drinks different sizes?
The cold Venti is four ounces larger to accommodate for the addition of ice in the drink. This way, you are guaranteed 20 ounces of pure Starbucks drink instead of receiving less drink in the iced edition.
Is there any way to get around the “No Trenta Frappuccino Policy?”
It is possible to order two Grande frappuccinos and ask the barista to put them in one Trenta cup if you like that much caffeine.
What is the largest cup size in Starbucks?
The short answer is that the Trenta is the largest cup size offered at Starbucks. At 31 fl oz it is humongous! However not all of their drinks are available at this size.
The long answer is that is depends what drink you are ordering.
Is water free at Starbucks, or do you pay for the cup?
You can get free water with ice in Grande size at any Starbucks. It is implied that the cup would be free too. However, some Starbucks may charge a small fee if you order water and nothing else.
Starbucks has captured the hearts of trendy teen girls and tired businessmen alike with their innovative flavors and classic twists on coffee. We hope this article has given you more confidence in ordering hot drinks at Starbucks. While the Italian names may seem complicated, it really is pretty straightforward.