Between Starbucks using funny words for the sizing on their menu, the fact that they have secret menu sizes, and that the sizes are enormous it can be hard to know where to start.
What are the cup sizes are Starbucks?
Starbucks cup sizes in order from smallest to largest are Short (8 fl. oz.), Tall (12 fl. oz.), Grande (16 fl. oz. ), Venti Hot (20 fl. oz.). Venti Cold (24 fl. oz.), Trenta Cold (31 fl. oz.).
Now there’s still a lot to unpack there, why is the cold venti bigger than the hot venti and why can’t you get a hot Trenta coffee?
Luckily I’ve done a ton of research and found the answers to all of these questions so read on.
Starbucks Cup Sizes Explained
There are 6 Starbucks cup sizes to choose from generally, there are 4 sizes you can get with a hot drink and 4 sizes you can get with a cold drink.
But most drinks have a limited range of sizes, the Nitro cold brew for instance can only be a Tall or a Grande, while the Trenta Cold is only available for Teavana Shaken Iced Tea, Teavana®Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade, Iced Coffee, Cold Brew, and Starbucks Refreshers.
That aside I’m going to take you through what each size is.
What is a Short (8 fl. oz.)
The size of a Starbucks short is 8 fl oz (which is 227 ml or 1 cup) and it is only available for hot coffees. It is considered to be an extra small size.
What’s strange is that this is the standard size of coffee to the rest of the coffee-drinking world. It’s roughly how big a standard mug at home would be and when coffee connoisseurs talk about coffee they often talk about anywhere between 4-8 fl oz of coffee.
For reference, if you were to use a 1 person French Press you can normally comfortably fit 8 fl oz of coffee.
So it was a clever move on Starbucks part to get you to order a bigger drink and make it feel like this size is absolutely tiny. They even removed it from the menu for a long time when they introduced the Venti size as it didn’t fit anymore.
And in fact, a lot of places don’t list the Short on their menu so this is considered a size from the Starbucks Secret Menu.
What is a Tall (12 fl. oz.)
The size of a Starbucks Tall is 12 fl oz, which is 340 ml or 1.44 cups is generally the smallest size of cold drink you can order. It is considered to be a small size.
And as they say tall is the new small…
OK, no one but Starbucks employees says that when they started using this as their go-to smallest size. If you ask for a small this is probably what you’ll get.
It’s about as much as a regular can of soda and is usually my go-to size for any drink. Perfectly enough to leave you satisfied without feeling full or bloated.
But yes even I sometimes order myself a grande…
What is a Grande (16 fl. oz.)
A Starbucks Grande size is 16 fl oz which is 450 ml or 2 cups, it is the most common size and is considered to be a medium size.
You can get a Grande of everything that isn’t already in a bottle. It’s a medium size of drink and is pretty much the same across the board.
A nice big size and my go-to if I want a large coffee, twice as big as a short.
It also happens to be the biggest size you can order of Nitro cold brew coffee. Which I thought was strange so I looked into it and it’s nothing to do with how much caffeine but is because you lose the effect of the cascade of bubbles as the drink settles if you make it a venti.
So it’s purely for aesthetic reasons that you can’t order it as a venti.
What is a Venti Hot (20 fl. oz.)
A Hot Venti size is 20 fl oz, 568 ml, or 2.37 cups, it is the largest size of hot drink you are allowed to get and is considered a large.
The big guns, in the UK this much liquid is considered a pint, and in the USA it’s even bigger than a pint. Which when I think of drinking a pint of milk it seems like a lot. But drinking a pint of milk with espresso in it is absolutely fine… Strange…
Nonetheless, this is the largest size of hot coffee you can order and the biggest size of insulated cup they make.
What is a Venti Cold (24 fl. oz.)
A Starbucks Cold Venti is 24 fl oz, 709 ml, or 3 cups. It’s the largest size of Frappuccino you can order and is the biggest size for most cold drinks. It is considered a Large for Cold Drinks.
If you ordered any of the cold drinks as large this is the size you would get, and it is the largest size in most Starbucks cafe’s, some however have the fabled Trenta size which we’re going to talk about next.
After looking into how much sugar some of the Frappuccinos have I must say I’ve gone off ever ordering one as a Venti!
What is a Trenta Cold (31 fl. oz.)
A Starbucks Trenta is the absolute largest size they do, it is 31 fl oz, 916 ml, or just under 3 cups. It is not available everywhere but is very common in the USA.
Because the Trenta isn’t available everywhere it’s considered to be a size from the Secret menu, and it isn’t usually listed on the boards so you have to ask if it’s available.
It is obscenely huge and is only available for Teavana Shaken Iced Tea, Teavana®Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade, Iced Coffee, Cold Brew, and Starbucks Refreshers.
But because it’s comically big I actually recommend trying one just so you can bask in all its giant glory.
How Many Espressos Are In Each Size
This again varies by drink so this is the rough guide.
Short: In general the short size only ever has 1 espresso in it.
Tall: Tall sizes have 1 espresso in them and the tall Frappuccinos have 2 pumps of their Frap Roast which is 60mg of caffeine and less than a single espresso shot which has 75 mg of caffeine in it.
Grande: Grande sizes have 2 shots of espresso in them, this is the crossover point into the double shot. Grande Frappuccinos have 3 pumps of coffee which are 90mg of coffee equivalent to about an espresso and a half.
Venti: Hot venti drinks have 2 shots of espresso while cold Venti coffee drinks have 3 espressos because the size is bigger. And Venti Frappuccinos have 4 pumps of coffee which are 120mg and still not as much as 2 espresso.
Trenta: None of the Trenta drinks are espresso-based but the Trenta Cold Brew has 360 mg of caffeine which is almost as much as 5 espresso shots!
Why Are Starbucks Sizes, Tall Grande, and Venti?
It depends on what level of cynicism you want to have, some people think it’s just a way to be pretentious, others think it’s purely a marketing ploy so you don’t feel bad when you order a Venti as opposed to ordering a large.
But I don’t have that cynical view on things and I like to believe that as it says on their website, Howard Shulz former CEO traveled to Italy in the 80s and fell in love with the romanticism of the coffee culture there and wanted to emulate it in his own stores however he could.
He wanted to elevate coffee from a cup of mediocre black coffee to the range of milk-based espresso drinks that are commonplace now.
And as part of that, he took the Italian versions of the name with him, which I’m sure became a part of their branding but started as a hat tip to Italian coffee.
And initially the 3 sizes you could get were short, tall, and grande, with Grande being Italian for large and the largest size.
Then by popular demand, a bigger size was created, the Venti, which means 20 and the size is 20 oz, another nod to Italy while also surreptitiously making all the sizes bigger by removing Short from the board and putting it on their Secret Menu…
Secret Starbucks Menu Sizes
It depends what Starbucks you go to as to whether or not you see these sizes on the board, and it’s hit or miss whether or not you will even be served these because not all stores have all the cup sizes!
Generally, Short And Trenta are both considered to be part of the Secret Menu because they don’t always appear on Menu boards. But if you ask there’s a good chance you’ll be able to order one of them.
Can You Order A Trenta Fappuccino?
This is ultra secret ninja levels of Starbucks ordering… That I learned about from one woman reporting her success on Quora.
For all the variations you can have of a Starbucks, allegedly 170,000 combinations, they have some very strict rules for their staff. For instance that under no circumstance are they allowed to serve a Trenta Frappuccino, there isn’t a code for it on the till and they could very genuinely get in trouble for doing it.
If you feel like chanting your mitt, you can order 2 of the same flavor of Grande Frappuccino and once you’ve paid ask if they can just put it in a Trenta cup.
Silence will follow, as will the stares as the whole shop stops to look at you…
OK probably not that dramatic but it won’t just be a straight forward yes so you’ll have to muster up all the politeness you have to be terribly sorry and that you know that they aren’t normally able to do this but if they could it would be amazing, while you put 5 dollars in the tip jar.
And then MAYBE they’ll say yes and explain that they don’t have a dome lid but you will be absolutely fine with that and eternally thankful.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but therein is where greatness lies…
Why Is A Cold Venti Bigger Than a Hot Venti
It’s a surprisingly simple reason…
Cold ventis are made with ice and Starbucks wants you to get the same amount of liquid beverage instead of making you pay less and giving you less beverage.
Which does make a lot of sense actually, then you get the dome lid to allow space for cream and it’s actually a very well-thought-out system.
What is a Small at Starbucks
If you want to order a small at Starbucks, ask for a Tall size.
I still think that’s bigger than a regular small but according to their sizes, it’s the tall you want.
What is a Medium at Starbucks
If you want to order a medium you should ask for a Grande size.
What is a Large at Starbucks
If you want to order a large you should ask for a Venti size.
That was a lot more in-depth than I ever thought it would be! But I hope it helps and you can go into a Starbucks and order with confidence now.
I personally can’t believe I never thought that they dropped the short and added Venti because it’s what the people wanted not because it would make them more money, how cynical of me!
I’m still a great lover of the short size and think it’s the perfect size for a coffee, and if you haven’t tried one then definitely order yourself a Short Cappuccino, it’s delicious.