Everything You Need to Know About Starbucks Coffee Sizes

Everything You Need to Know About Starbucks Coffee Sizes

Starbucks has been around for fifty years, but customers are still likely to be confused when they look at the menu. One clear reason is that Starbucks doesn’t offer the standard “small, medium, large” sizes for drinks. Instead, their sizes have names that come from more than one tongue. There are a lot of different taste combinations, drink terms, and measurements for hot and cold drinks, which can make things very confusing.

Before you order at Starbucks, if you’ve ever been in line thinking, “What’s the closest size to a medium?” This breakdown will help you get the most out of your next order.

What’s in a Name?

Even though it was started in 1971, Starbucks went through a lot of changes after Howard Schultz, a New Yorker who found “love at first sip,” joined the company and went to Italy in 1983. He got ideas for his new American coffee shop from how much he admired the baristas and the language of coffee in Milan. Soon, words like “macchiato,” “latte,” and “grande” were added to the menu, and our beloved green skirts became the standard outfit for all Starbucks baristas.

Understanding Capacity and Caffeine

What determines how many shots of espresso are in a Starbucks coffee drink? The main ones are whether the drink is hot or cold and whether milk is added or not. While this guide should help, there are a few times when the rules below don’t apply.

One type of espresso shot used to make Flat White drinks is called a ristretto, which means “short shot.” The same amount of ground coffee is used, but half as much water is used to remove a finer grind. This makes a very concentrated espresso. Flat Whites will always have an extra shot than regular lattes because they have more space because they have less liquid.

The popular Frappuccino is another drink that doesn’t follow these rules: no matter what size you order, it only has one shot of espresso.

Starbucks Sizes


One and only thing that comes in this cute 3-ounce cup is an espresso shot, either a single or a double, which are one or two ounces. The word “demi” comes from the French word “demitasse,” which means “half-cup.” The tiny cup that the word refers to can hold about half of a regular coffee or tea cup. The word was used in Italy as early as 1906, though.


Though it may come as a surprise, the “Short” cup at Starbucks is the smallest of the three sizes. The Short is only for hot drinks, like regular made coffee. It’s only 8 ounces, so it doesn’t quite fit into the small, medium, or large categories. This cup size of espresso drinks only has one shot of espresso, whether they are made with milk (like a latte or cappuccino) or water (like an Americano).


At 12 ounces, a “Tall” drink is the second smallest but most like a normal “small.” That’s the Tall cup size for all of Starbucks’ drinks, hot or cold. The amount of espresso in each changes, though. One espresso shot is in a milky drink, two shots are in an Americano or a shaken espresso of this size.


Grande in Italian means “large,” but at 16 ounces, Starbucks’ “grande” cup is about the same size as a medium-sized coffee. This size can be used to order both hot and cold drinks. A Grande Starbucks drink will have two shots of espresso, but an Americano or shaken espresso will have an extra shot, making the total number of shots three. What a boost!

The Venti

At Starbucks, a “Venti” size is 20 ounces for hot drinks and 24 ounces for cold drinks. This is where we get off track a bit more. (“Venti” in Italian means “20”). In “standard” sizes, the Venti is the same as a big. Venti cups can be a bit of a pain to use because they are so tall. Getting a Venti makes you look like you’re taking your coffee seriously, like it’s going to be one of those days and you want to be ready.

A Venti will have two shots of espresso, which is the same amount as a Grande. Most of the time, milk and syrup just take up the extra room. How about that Americano? With four shots of espresso, it packs a powerful punch.

Also, keep in mind that any cold Venti drink comes in a vessel that can hold four extra ounces, which means that these drinks have one more shot of espresso than their warm versions. For milky drinks, this means three shots of espresso, and for shaken espresso, it means an extra shot.

The Trenta

The “Trenta” is the biggest Starbucks size. This cup is almost too big to be acceptable. It holds 31 ounces of liquid and can only be used for cold drinks. And for good reason—can you picture a hot drink still being warm by the time you finish a Trenta? In 2011, it was said that 31 ounces, which means “30” in English, is bigger than most people’s bellies. This size caused a lot of controversy. If you choose a Trenta-size coffee, may the odds always be on your side.


What do the sizes of Starbucks coffee mean?

The menu board only shows four sizes today: short (8 ounces), tall (12 ounces), large (16 ounces), and venti (20 ounces for hot drinks and 24 ounces for cold drinks). For espresso, you can also get a demi (3 ounces), but now it’s called a quad.

What is the logic behind Starbucks sizes?

Schultz based the layout of his first store, Il Giornale, on Italian customs and offered three sizes: short, tall, and grande. The smallest size in this system was eight ounces, and the sizes went up from there. That’s why the “tall” size is now the normal small.

What is the size system for Starbucks?

Their drinks come in three main sizes: Tall (12 oz), Grande (16 oz), and Venti (20 oz). In general, how much does each Starbucks drink size cost? The price of each Starbucks drink size can change based on the drink itself.


To sum up, knowing about Starbucks coffee cups gives you a lot of options for making your order unique. If you know the different sizes, you can make your drink fit your mood and tastes, whether you like a tall coffee or a Trenta with its big, generous amounts. When you go to Starbucks next, you can be sure that you will choose the right size to make your coffee experience better.

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