If you frequent your local Starbucks regularly, you’ve probably got the menu memorized and a go-to coffee order that couldn’t be easier to place. But if Starbucks isn’t somewhere you typically wander into – maybe you’re more of a Coffee Bean or Peet’s person, or you simply make your own coffee at home – ordering can be a bit overwhelming.
There a plethora of menu options and equally as many customizations to explore, from milk alternatives and cold foam to flavored syrups and sauces, and there’s even a secret menu to try to keep track of. But on top of all that, the sizes themselves can be downright confusing.
There’s no such thing as a “small”, “medium”, or “large” at Starbucks. And if you’re not used to ordering coffee there, words like “tall”, “grande”, and “venti” may seem a little foreign (and rightly so, because they actually are…but more on that later).
So what exactly are all the cup size options at Starbucks? And more importantly, what do they all mean and how do you order them? There are more sizes available than the menu might let on, and certain cups can only be ordered for certain drinks. Even if you’re a Starbucks regular, some of this may come as new information. Let’s clear up any sizing confusion so next time you stroll into a Starbucks you can order like a pro.
The six sizes of Starbucks
You may notice that most Starbucks menus offer four cup sizes as the main options when you place an order. But there are actually six official sizes that your drink can come in: demi, short, tall, grande, venti, and trenta. Here’s how much coffee each size holds and how it’s typically ordered at Starbucks.
At just 3 ounces, demi (also called a quad, likely because it can hold four .75-ounce espresso shots) is the smallest size cup at Starbucks – but you won’t necessarily see it on the menu and only certain drinks will come in this size. This is typically what’s handed to you if you order a single or double espresso, or an espresso drink with a small amount of milk (like a cortado or an espresso macchiato). And if you happen to order some cream on the side of your coffee or ask for extra milk, it’ll most likely be served in a demi cup.
The short cup holds 8 ounces, which doesn’t seem that small – but it’s smaller than Starbucks’ standard small size of 12 ounces. The short size cup has come and gone at Starbucks, and it can only be ordered for hot drinks, but it’s a great option if you prefer a smaller drink with less calories or less caffeine. Espresso drinks ordered in a short size will come with one shot of espresso. And if you ask for something in a kids size, that’ll come in the short cup.
This is where things start to get a little confusing. The tall size cup is essentially equivalent to a Starbucks size “small”. Aside from espresso drinks that come in a demi, you can order pretty much any Starbucks drink (hot or cold) in a size tall, which will get you 12 ounces. Most tall espresso drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos, come with one shot of espresso.
At 16 ounces, think of the grande as the “medium” size at Starbucks. Originally, a grande was the largest size at Starbucks (until the next two came along). Today a grande cup of coffee is one of the most popular sizes ordered, and it’s what the default size is when you order Starbucks online or on the mobile app, whether it’s hot or cold. Most espresso drinks will come with two shots of espresso in a size grande.
Venti: 20oz + 24oz
The venti is one of the largest cup sizes at Starbucks (which conveniently still fits into most car cup holders). It wasn’t introduced to the menu until the early ‘90s, but has since become a popular size to order. This one’s a bit different for a couple of reasons. First, the hot and cold cups are actually different sizes: hot drinks come in a 20 ounce cup, while cold drinks come in a 24 ounce cup to account for the ice. And the espresso ratios are different, too. Like the grande, hot venti espresso-based orders will come with two shots of espresso as the standard. Meanwhile, a cold venti order will come with three espresso shots.
At a whopping 31 ounces, the trenta size can only be ordered for certain iced drinks like iced coffee, cold brew, iced tea, and Refreshers. It’s caused some controversy due to its “supersize” quality and a somewhat concerning fact that many have brought to light: it holds more capacity than most human stomachs.
Here’s a cheat sheet to break it all down.
|Cup Size||Capacity||Hot or Cold||Standard Shots for Espresso Drinks|
|Demi||3 oz||Hot||1 or 2 (espresso only)|
|Tall||12 oz||Hot + Cold||1|
|Grande||16 oz||Hot + Cold||2|
Why are Starbucks cup sizes named the way they are?
Try to order a “small” or “medium” coffee at Starbucks and you might get looked at funny…you have to be in the know on this seemingly secret language of sizing to order correctly.
But sizes named “grande”, “venti”, and “trenta” seem foreign because they are: Starbucks cup sizes originate from the company’s Italian-inspired roots. The coffee shop was initially named Il Giornale (Italian for “newspaper”), with a vision from its founder Howard Schultz to model the chain after the coffee bar experiences he had in Italy.
Schultz wanted to give the sizes distinct names, so Il Giornale originally had a three-tier sizing system: short was small, tall was medium, and grande was large (as a nod to the Italian word grande, which means “big” or “large”). When the chain was renamed Starbucks in 1987, its original sizes remained. A few years later, venti – which is Italian for “twenty” – was added to the lineup. Then demi, which derives from the French word “demitasse” (aka small, fine cups typically used to serve espresso), and finally trenta, which is Italian for “thirty”.
Although there are currently four main cup sizes listed on the Starbucks menu online, the coffee chain technically offers six different sizes: demi, short, tall, grande, venti, and trenta.
The trenta cup size was introduced to the Starbucks menu back in 2012, which holds 31 ounces and is Starbucks largest size. Today, a trenta can only be ordered for specific iced drinks, such as iced coffee, iced tea, and Starbucks Refreshers.
It’s a demi, which is just 3 ounces, and used for espresso shot orders. It comes in at less than 1/10 the size of the 31-ounce trenta cups!
A tall at Starbucks was originally equivalent to a size medium, but when the venti size was introduced, the short (originally a Starbucks small) was briefly removed from the menu, making tall effectively a small. The short size has since returned to the menu, but the tall has remained as the standard small size for Starbucks orders.
A demi cup, sometimes referred to as a quad, is the smallest cup available at Starbucks. It holds 3 ounces, and is typically meant to hold a shot or two of espresso since espresso shots are about a little under one ounce each in volume.