Starbucks’ coffee sizes can be confusing. Are cold Starbucks drinks bigger than hot drinks? Is a tall really the smallest size you can get? And does ordering a larger size mean getting more caffeine? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Starbucks Coffee Sizes Aren’t Small, Medium and Large
Like most of us, you’ve probably wondered why Starbucks doesn’t use regular sizes like every other store. The story starts in 1983, when Howard Schultz, who founded the brand that eventually became Starbucks, visited Italy. He modeled his new American coffee shop on Italian coffee bars, using terms such as macchiato, latte and grande. When the Starbucks franchise expanded in the ’90s, the coffee sizes were short, tall and grande.
Starbucks Coffee Sizes at a Glance
- Demi (3 ounces)
- Short (8 ounces)
- Tall (12 ounces)
- Grande (16 ounces)
- Venti (20 ounces for hot drinks, 24 ounces for cold drinks)
- Trenta (31 ounces)
What Each Starbucks Coffee Size Really Means
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This tiny cup holds only 3 ounces and is made solely for espresso shots. Demi comes from the French word “demitasse,” which means half-cup in French. The history of the little cup goes all the way back to Italy in 1906!
The smallest Starbucks drink around, a short contains 8 ounces. This li’l cup is available for hot drinks only, including brewed coffee and espresso drinks.
Confusingly, the second smallest size at Starbucks is called “tall.” It clocks in at 12 ounces, or 50% larger than the short. You can order both hot and cold drinks in a tall cup.
In Spanish, “grande” means large, but since more’s better when it comes to coffee, it’s actually a medium option at Starbucks. Grande coffees hold 16 ounces, both for cold and hot beverages.
The venti option is tricky, since it’s actually two different sizes. A hot venti beverage contains 20 ounces of coffee—in fact, the word venti means 20 in Italian. The cold venti is slightly larger, at 24 ounces. Both cups are noticeably tall and a bit more ungainly to carry around, something to bear in mind if you’re on the go.
The newest Starbucks size caused a stir when it came out in 2011. As Eater reported, the 31-ounce Trenta is actually larger than most human stomachs. You can only order cold drinks in this gargantuan size.
Psst: Here’s what to order from the Starbucks secret menu.
The Shots of Espresso in Each Size
Here’s another layer of complexity. The number of espresso shots used in each size varies. Both hot and cold drinks contain different quantities of espresso, as do drinks with milk versus without. Here’s a quick explainer:
The demi, as we said, is only used for espresso shots, each of which come in at about an ounce. This size is perfect for a single or even a double shot of espresso (commonly known as a doppio), which is 2 ounces.
Short drinks made with milk, like lattes and cappuccinos, contain one shot of espresso. A short Americano, made with water, also has a single shot.
Tall drinks made with milk also have one shot of espresso. The tall Americano and shaken espresso contain two shots.
Grande espresso drinks have two shots. As usual, the Americano and shaken espresso have an extra shot, giving you a nice boost with three shots of espresso.
Surprisingly, a venti hot drink has the same amount of espresso as a grande: two shots. The extra volume is mostly milk and syrup. However, a venti Americano has a whopping four shots of espresso.
The slightly larger capacity of the venti cold drink includes an extra shot: three shots for milky drinks, and an extra shot for a shaken espresso. Find more secrets from Starbucks employees.
Of course, there are always a couple of exceptions: flat white lattes, made with a special ristretto shot, always include one more shot than traditional lattes. And blended drinks, like Frappuccinos, contain a single shot, regardless of size.
Confused? Don’t worry too much. If you’re unclear about sizing options or need to watch your caffeine intake, chat with your barista about the Starbucks menu; they’ll know the details!