Does it sound like complete gibberish when someone is ordering a Starbucks drink? We get it. There are a ton of different words with rich histories that make up some traditional coffee orders. To make matters worse—Starbucks uses its own names for the sizing of each cup.
While it may be frustrating that they have skipped using names like small, medium, and large, there is actually some reasoning behind this decision.
By the end of this article, you’ll feel confident enough to order like a pro on your next Starbucks run. Let's get started.
Table of Contents
What Sizes Does Starbucks Carry?
First off, Starbucks carries six different sizes. These sizes are:
Demi is a 3-ounce cup used for samples, pup cups, and popular variations of espresso shots like Doppios, Espressos Con Panna, and Espresso Macchiatos. This cup is only available in a paper hot version.
Short cups are 8 ounces and are used primarily for drinks like kids' Hot Chocolates, Breve Lattes and occasionally for espresso drinks like Espresso Macchiatos. This cup size is not very commonly used and is only available in a paper hot cup.
Don’t let this name fool you—Tall is the smallest size in which most Starbucks drinks traditionally come. It is 12 ounces and is available in the paper hot cup and the plastic iced cup. This is the suggested size for drinks like the Australian-inspired Flat White.
Grande is the size that is considered “medium” at Starbucks. It is available both in hot and iced cups and is 16 ounces.
Venti is considered “large” at Starbucks, and this is another area in which cup sizes start to get confusing. The paper hot size is 20 ounces, and the plastic iced size is 24 ounces. The reason the Venti iced cup is larger than the hot cup is that there is so much ice present in a Venti iced drink. This means that you receive about 20 ounces of liquid in both sizes.
Trenta is the largest cup size available at Starbucks. It is 30 ounces and is only available in the plastic iced cup. Cold Brews, Iced Teas, and Iced Coffees are this size's most commonly ordered beverages.
How Many Pumps Of Syrup are In Each Size?
If you’re watching your sugar intake or calorie consumption, it can be very beneficial to know how many pumps of syrup are in your daily coffee. This is also important for drinks with two flavors combined, as sometimes this doubles the syrup and sauce pumps.
This is one of the most important things your baristas learn in the early days of their career at Starbucks. Once you learn the proper amount of syrup pumps, you can even make these drinks at home!
We’ll skip the demi and short sizes since there aren’t many standards in these cup sizes.
Let's dive in.
How Many Pumps in a Tall Starbucks Cup?
You’ll generally receive three pumps of syrup or sauce in a tall hot and iced drink. This includes lattes, both iced and hot, as well as frappuccinos. You’ll only get two pumps in a tall iced Caramel Macchiato.
How Many Pumps in a Grande Drink at Starbucks?
Grande Starbucks drinks generally receive four pumps of syrup each. This also includes lattes, frappuccinos, and shaken espressos. Iced Caramel Macchiatos always receive one less pump than usual, so a grande iced Caramel Macchiato only receives three pumps of syrup.
How Many Pumps Does a Venti Starbucks Drink Get?
Venti hot Starbucks drinks get five pumps of syrup per cup. However, since the Venti iced cups are 24 ounces instead of 20 ounces, they get six pumps of syrups. Again, iced Caramel Macchiattos get one less pump than usual, so they only receive five total pumps of syrup.
Where Did The Starbucks Cup Size Names Come From?
The Starbucks cup sizes were inspired by Italian coffee shops and the Italian language. Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, fell in love with Italian coffee shops and wanted to bring some of these century-long traditions into American coffee shops.
Before Starbucks, Howard Schultz even started a coffee shop named Il Giornale. This coffee shop turned into the Starbucks franchise we know and love today. However, the cup sizes remained inspired by Italian tradition.
One thing to note is that the only three sizes of cups available in the early days of both Il Giornale and Starbucks were short, tall, and grande. In this context, the names make much more sense for those of us who have spent our lives learning Latin-based language.
Short sounds like a small. Tall sounds larger than that, and grande translates to the word “big” in multiple Latin-based languages. When the venti-sized cup was finally introduced in the early 90s, it turned into the new large size, which made grande the new medium and tall the new small.
The word venti in Italian translates to the number twenty—which makes sense considering the hot cup size is twenty ounces.
It’s no wonder these Starbucks coffee sizes are difficult to understand for newbies to the coffee shop. The names of the cup sizes stopped making much sense linguistically after the venti size was introduced.
But what about the other less common sizes like demi, short, and trenta?
History of The Less Popular Starbucks Cup Sizes
The demi size is again inspired by the Italian language—which makes sense when you learn that Western coffee culture was dramatically inspired by Italian tradition. Demi stands for “demitasse,” which translates basically to “coffee cup for espresso shots.”
With the demi size being just 3 ounces and a standard espresso shot being 1 ounce, this means that a demi cup is ideal for Doppio Espressos—or double shots of espresso.
It is also an excellent size for an Espresso Con Panna, which is espresso with whipped cream on top, and for Espresso Macchiatos, which are just espresso shots with steamed milk on top. So truly, demi sizes are the perfect coffee cup for espresso shots—just like the Italian name suggests.
As for the short size, the exact reason Starbucks chose this name is uncertain. Our best guess is that the Italian word for small is “corto.” However, if you were to order your coffee “corto” in an Italian coffee shop—you’d actually be getting ristretto shots. Ristretto shots are espresso shots that take less time to brew and result in less overall liquid than regular or lungo (long) shots.
The history of the trenta cup is similar to the history of the venti cup. Trenta simply means “thirty” in Italian, but trenta cups are actually thirty-one ounces. This cup size is the newest of all the Starbucks cup sizes and didn’t make its debut in stores until 2010.
Is Starbucks Similar To an Authentic Italian Coffee Shop Experience?
While there are plenty of crossovers between the authentic Italian coffee shop verbiage and what you’d see at Starbucks—ordering a coffee at a cafe in Italy is a totally different experience than ordering at Starbucks.
One of the first things you’d notice is that you don’t generally get a choice in your cup size in Italy. Your barista will instead ask you if you’d like your drink al banco or al taviolo. This basically just means you can drink your coffee quickly at the bar (al banco) or sit down at a table and enjoy your coffee (al taviolo).
The ladder will cost you extra, though.
You don’t really get to choose the size of your coffee in Italy because the size of different orders is predetermined. A Cappuccino traditionally is just 5 to 6 ounces, a Doppio Espresso is 2 ounces, and a Latte is generally about 8 ounces.
Comparing coffee culture in Italy versus the US is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they’re both fruits, but they’re completely different. While you can debate whether the coffee culture in Italy or the States is better—they’re ultimately just different traditions that have been molded around the culture and preferences of their residents.
It is undeniable that traditional Italian practices have greatly influenced the coffee culture we see in the US. Even Starbucks began its journey to bring the authentic Italian experience to the US. However, after years of changes and modifications, Starbucks hardly resembles a traditional Italian coffee shop experience anymore.
Hopefully, you now feel confident enough to order your drinks at Starbucks. Keeping up with coffee culture can feel daunting and overwhelming because of the rich history behind different traditions. However, the rich history and centuries of traditions make coffee so great in the first place!