How Starbucks Changed the Coffee Industry by Turning ‘Small’ Into ‘Tall’

Can you recall the first time you ever glanced at a Starbucks menu? Immediately, you probably wished you learned Italian in high school. After all, what exactly is a venti or a grande?

Even after years of drinking their delicious coffee, it can still be confusing to figure out what order those unique sizes come in. Wouldn’t small, medium, or large suffice?

So what’s the secret behind Starbucks’ unique cup-size names?

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To better understand the origin of the company’s coffee offerings, you have to dial the clock back to 1986. That year, Howard Schultz opened Il Giornale. Of course, he would later launch Starbucks.

However, Il Giornale offered just three sizes: short, tall, and grande.

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Shultz took a trip to Italy three years prior, which provided the inspiration for the distinctive names for each cup size.

He used cups in a variety of sizes and even carried over the Italian inspiration to other items on his menu, including doppiomacchiato, and misto.

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Of course, the biggest impact on the coffee game came with replacing “small” with “tall.”

According to Starbucks blogger Melody Overton, the secret is actually stunningly simple. It all came down to space on the menu board. And everything changed once venti came into play.

Overton says.

“When venti was added, short dropped off the menu boards.

Starbucks decided that there wasn’t room for four sizes.

So short got the boot and tall became the new short, or small.”

Years later, “short” has made a reappearance…sort of. You can order hot drinks in the eight-ounce size.

In addition, Starbucks offers a fifth size for cold drinks. The “trenta” checks in at 31 ounces and will surely leave you satisfied.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

What’s your favorite Starbucks drink? Do you have a go-to size? How much is too much coffee?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!