Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh Starbucks...

Today is free pastry day at Starbucks.

I've been doing track workouts with a group on Tuesday mornings to improve my speed for my newly-found love of running. Last week we had our second, one-mile time trial. Because I improved since the last one, my training paces have quickened, making my workouts feel a lot tougher than they did a couple of weeks ago. That being said, I opted to treat myself to a post-run trip to Starbucks for "free pastry day" after a new running acquaintance named Christine (sp?) kindly shared an extra coupon with me.

Truth be told, I'm not really a Starbucks fan. I'd rather spend three hours in Wal-Mart any day over ten minutes in Starbucks.

Why don't I like Starbucks? (forgive me, some of these answers are singularly cliche).
  • I hate having to feel cool or successful just to buy a dang cup of coffee. Now that I'm not in the music business anymore, I feel like an outsider if for some reason I go to Starbucks.
  • The hype is ridiculous. Good coffee and coffee drinks are an art, not a science or chemical equation.
  • Now, I'm no connoisseur...I'm just a handyman, but their coffee just doesn't taste very good...isn't it kind of bitter?
My main reason, however can be summed up in three words:

Tall, Grande & Venti. (of course, you knew I couldn't just LEAVE it at three words)

Let's ponder this for a moment. I'm going to look at it from a perspective of a person like myself and others who aren't particularly "Coffee Shop Savvy," as it were. I'll come back around with the original intent of the Starbucks sizing structure.
  • Tall: This is not really a size adjective. It's more of an appearance description, but for benefit-of-the-doubt's sake, let's treat it as a size adjective. Generally speaking, is a tall person not usually considered bigger than a short person? So, it may be safe to assume that "Tall" would be the Large, but in Starbucks vernacular, it actually means Small. If I order something Tall, I sort of expect to be drinking out of a test tube or chemical vial.
  • Grande: "Grande" is Italian for Large. Plain and simple but for the fact that this is actually the Medium size at Starbucks.
  • Venti: This is the most creative one of all. "Venti" is Italian for...dun dun dun...Twenty. Why? Because because it comes in a 20 oz. cup. It's actually 20.5 according to the bottom of the cup, but perhaps "Venti E Mezzo" was less catchy. I guess, however, seeing as Italy uses the metric system, perhaps it should be "Seicento E Sei" (Six Hundred and Six Milliliters).
These sizes aren't even all in the same language. So, for the sake of juxtaposition, let's put them all in English and get this straight (I'm leaving out the "short" size because you have to specifically ask for it to get it):
  • "Tall" = small
  • "Large" = medium
  • "Twenty" = Large
A height description meaning the opposite of it's definition, an actual size description meaning something other than its definition, and a number. So, not only do these all mean either the same thing or nothing at all, but they're relatively irrelevant to each other.

They could have gone with: Short, Medium and Tall, or Short, Tall and Shaquille O'neal (NBA Sponsorship, yes?)
The could have gone with: Small, Medium and Large
The could have gone with: Otto (8) Dodici (12), Sedici (16) and Venti (20)

My understanding is that Starbucks originally had two sizes that were "Short" and "Tall." Because we Americans like such mass quantities (I'm a huge fan of Sonic's Route 44 drinks), they had to adapt. I know I appreciate the adaptation, but could you guys not have made it a bit more user-friendly to first-timers, or at least more cohesive by using one type of measuring system?

I'm sorry Starbucks...I'm being kind of hard on you. Surely, I'll be buying your coffee again, but I'll do as I always do: Order a "Big Ol' Coffee" with the fullest southern drawl that I'm capable of, and wait to be corrected by some annoyed hipster behind the counter when he/she rolls his/her eyes and says, "Oh, you mean a 'Venti,'" like I was speaking some language other than English.

In the meantime, if I can help it, I'll spend my coffee budget at Créma, where Rachel, Lacey, Libby, Logan and Mark let me order a "Large Coffee," without batting an eye.

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