« Previous | Main | Next »

October 10, 2004


In reference to today's column, in which Mister Language Person discusses the alarming trend of stupid names for coffee sizes, many people have emailed to inform me that Seattle's Best Coffee is owned by Starbucks. To those people, I gratefully respond: OK, but the coffee-size names are still stupid. Thank you.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I can't believe it....my Thanksgiving weekend is now complete. Who needs a turkey dinner with all the fixings?

I'm first..Woohoo...

Numero Uno
Not Second

La La La La La

oh right..stay on the topic.

Names for coffee sizes...they are stupid.

That is all.


Please do not boom La La La in my eyes in a honky tonk fashion.

Sorry qetzal. I was so busy rejoicing in my firstness I forgot it is kinda early in the morning.

Apology accepted, Your Firstness. Congratulations, and long may you reign.

All hail Zoodle the Gracious!


Only the truly addicted put up with that nonsense.

Unfortunately, Starbucks is more addictive than heroin....

I just found a scorpion in my Grande-Supremo-Light-Decaf-One Up One Down-Equilateral-Side Out-Over Easy-Mocha Latte.

For a real thrill in the sky, try Jamaca Blue Mountain coffee!!! NO PROBLEM, MON!

This is why you should drink tea.

It has more caffiene anyway. It's win-win.

Just do what I do at Starbucks. Just call 'em small, medium, and large, no matter what stupid names THEY give them. If you want a small latte, walk up to counter and tell them you want a small one.

Of course, invariably, the person behind the counter will say something like, "Do you want a Tall, then?"

Answer, "No, I want it in one of those SMALL little cups like this one here."'

"OK, then you want a tall."

"If that's a Tall, then I'm Kareem Abdul-Jabbar."

Dave, without sucking up in any way, let me say that your columns are always good but occasionally you -- to use a sports metaphor you as a manly man will surely appreciate -- really hit the old horsehide out of the park. So to speak.

Anyway, today was one of those days. Please accept my congratulations, felicitations, and many laughs. I hate those stupid Starbucks names.

Oh, and how did you know a Starbucks was opening in my basement? Uncanny.

Zoodle: Thanksgiving? Isn't that November 25?

Oh right, Canada, got it. (shakes head in wonder)

I think this trend began over twenty years ago in a theater I worked in that sold only "medium," "large" and "extra large" sodas. If someone asked for a small, they would be told that the smallest size was medium, thus showing a profound lack of understanding of the definition of the word "medium.".

When I was doing time in restaurant work, I'd retaliate against management's rules that we call drinks 'medium' and 'large' by asking customers if they wanted 'tiny' or 'huge'. Until I got caught by management...


Yeah, so? The Grande-Supremo-Light-Decaf-One Up One Down-Equilateral-Side Out-Over Easy-Mocha Latte is supposed to have a scorpion in it.

If you wanted it without the scorpion, you should have ordered the Suprissimo-Pale-Decaf-Double-Dutch-Humungous-Monkey-Cheeto-Java Latte. With a twist.

Waxwing you rebel!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dave! For years now, I have refused to utter those stupid names for cup sizes at Starbucks, and finally I have been vindicated (by a presidential candidate, no less). I have even gone so far as to order a "super dooper el-largo" Irish Cream latte, just to antagonize the clerks; who, of course, probably hate those stupid names as much as I do.


I thought the Starbucks ads at the end of the column were particularly ironic. How does he do it?

As someone who now lives in Seattle and greatly resents the fact that I can not fall down in this city without hitting a Starbucks,let me say, thank you Dave from the bottom of my Grande-tripple-nonfat-no whip-decaf heart. And, may I suggest going to Tullys next time.

bbescuela — the trend continues with a current fast-food franchise (whose name I won't mention, but the initials are "Burger King"), probably due to an over-paid, imagination-challenged Marketing Department.

pretend to be a non-english speaking person. tall is small? what? then give them some foreign sounding jibberish.
we're a little deprived here in albany... only 1 starbucks downtown, and another uptown... so, i can avoid em!!

"If you wanted it without the scorpion, you should have ordered the Suprissimo-Pale-Decaf-Double-Dutch-Humungous-Monkey-Cheeto-Java Latte. With a twist."

Well...don't I just feel like a mondo-grando-superduper-gifuckin'gantic moron.

I am _so_ glad we don't have that nonsense here! We had a couple of Starbucks branches but they didn't do very well and closed, and all the local coffee chains use normal words. :)

I agree, resteraunts giving weird names to sizes is annoying. It reminds me of when resteraunts give normal foods, like a hamburger, some weird name, and then people ask for it.

It's like those stupid "Chicken Selects" commercials where some obnoxious jerk who has an unhealthy infatuation with "Chicken Selects" keeps telling people to stay away from their "Chicken Selects" even though nobody is technically in the room with them.

Bangi - it has a snake in it.

ah, normal words and falling down...

In Canada, it's a challenge to get out of the visual range of a Tim Hortons. I was once sentenced to work there, for commiting the crime of having finihsed uni and being unable to find employment of any kind. The student loan people (I wish I was kidding) threatened to put me in jail if I didn't start payments, job or no. I'm surprised more people don't opt for prostitution.

Anyway, they call the coffee the reasonable names of small, medium, large, and extra large. The problem is the customers, who refuse to use sizes, because they think you can read their minds. They just say double-double and you better have over the right cup size on instinct, or they will throw the coffee, which is the temp of the surface of the sun, on you (again I wish I were kidding). To make matters more fun, although the customers are all serious addicts, many acutally hate the taste of coffee, but refuse to admit it. So, you are to magically know that when they say double-double, they don't MEAN double-double, they mean 6x6, but they won't SAY that, because they are in denial. So you, a fool, hands over a double-double, and then must duck flaming coffee, be told they want a REAL double-double, and commit this exercise a few times before you hand them a medium 12x12 and they take a sip and tell you nastily now THAT'S a double-double!

Just a small sample of the fun that can be had for min wage. I didn't even mention the management! I was there 3 months; I had nightmares for years.

Screw coffee, I'm surprised Tim's isn't famous for murders and suicides....

I became totally convinced that wage is all backwards,
that the people with the hardest jobs, who DESERVE the most pay, truly are those who are paid the least (and treated the worst).

ps. I don't care who or what you are or how sucky your life is, you throw coffee on a server to make your petty self feel better, you should automatically get sentenced to death by boiling.

Here's a simple solution. Make your own coffee at home and put it in whatever damn cup you want. The money you save will definetly increase your disposable beer funds.

Here's a simple solution. Make your own coffee at home and put it in whatever damn cup you want. The money you save will definetly increase your disposable beer funds.

There is another fast food chain (I won't use their name, but their (not they're) initials are KFC) that start their sizes with medium. And (I presume you don't get this in USA) if you can, you should go to Gloria Jean's. Best coffee ever from a coffee chain and they have English names for their cup sizes. If you had GJ's.. Starbucks would go out of business in short order.. or it should

Sorry. I didn't mean to post it twice, but my hands are shaking from all the damn coffee I drank today

did you know starbucks has little dictiionaries to hand out just so you can attempt to learn their little morse code that always changes anyway while you're fumbling through the thousands of pages?

well yes, now you do.

I went to the county fair a few weeks ago. The parking spaces there were designated:
1. Good
2. Better
3. Best.

This roughly translated into:
1. This is a parking space? Looks like a dirt mound to me. And where the heck is the fair?
2. Drive around forever in a single file line until you find something open.
3. Get a good space that's close to the fair, but a real b*tch to get out of once the fair closes.

Coffee is a vile liquid not suitable for human consumption. Pass the hot chocolate with whipped cream!

Let me see if I've got this straight: Zoodle was first? I'll take my answer off-line.

A cup of coffee used to be a dignified and honorable thing....but it has been corrupted by silly frou-frou names. I spit on your pompous, faux-chic coffee chains!

Juan Valdez

Tom's link.

Juan Valdez is opening his first coffee place in New York.

Dunkin Donuts has ONLY small, medium and large sizes, despite the fact that 99% of their employees in my area (Boston) are mysteriously from Brazil. However, if you order a "large regular" what you get is a large cup with coffee, cream, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. I was behind some poor tourist who attempted to order a "regular" coffee, which he apparently meant to be a "medium" size, black coffee. There was quite a lot of amusing back-and-forth on that one.

*snorts coffee out her nose from watching Tom's link." (illwillpress)

I just had to go into work for an hour.. and on the way home, I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt (I swear I am not making this up) that said "I'd like a nice cup of shut the f*#& up". How often have you wnated to say that in Starbucks?

If you don't like the size, stay out of the Starbucks.

I'll take an extra tall grande bourbon rocks, please, hold the rocks.

Guin: in NY "regular" is also coffee with milk & sugar and yes, it's amusing sometimes to see out of towners who don't expect that to be the case.

Thanks Brad, I needed that.

Kat: EVERY time.

Brad, while Lima is singing the Nat'l Anthem, we males are watching o'er some ramparts, if you know what I mean.

Seems to me that if you're going to complain about how stupid people are that go to Starbucks (or Seattle's Best, which is apparently better than Starbucks, since it is best, except that Starbucks bought it, so now Starbucks IS Seattle's Best, or the other way around) to call small "tall," then you should also talk about how stupid the same people are to pay over $2 for the coffee--just because they call it Ethiopia Yergacheffe (a name I'm not making up)--whether they call it small or "tall."

It would just be so much easier to have these places set up an IV drip so you can get the caffiene directly into your blood stream, thus eliminating the need for any foolishly named size cup and the ridiculous question, "You want whipped cream on that?" But I will stab to death the first person in front of me to ask for the double-shot-mocha-choca-blast extra extra decaf with soy milk and sprinkles with an extra large needle.

That is, I will if I've had my coffee first.

Just do what I do - don't drink coffee. You don't have to worry about it, then.

On top of that, the only Starbuck's we have in our litttle high-tech, low-cost-of-living town of 40,000 (or so) is in a Safeway store. Not much for a cafe.

I have been wanting to open my own cyber-cafe in this town for a while. Only, I won't be selling coffee, so I guess I don't have to worry about falling into the "stupid-coffee-size-name" trap. I'll just call my lovely beverage sizes regular names.

Sorry, no chocolades for Jessica R. Coffee does it for me.
I agree that people should stop making up stupid names for things though.

"Why is it that on this blog, we have to call boobies ramparts?? Although, I have to say, Lima-time's wife has some seriously venti ramparts!"
- Brad

That's not very flattery when you consider that venti refers to "20".

The next time I go to Starbucks I'm going to order a Tall Viente Grande Supremo, just to see the reaction I get. Hey, it sounds like it should be a menu item all by itself.

The thing is that Starbucks coffee isn't even all that good. Maybe an improvement on regular American coffee, which often tastes like sock-water, but definitely not worth the money.

Does anyone else find it funny that Penny is telling us what is not worth the money?

Here in Japan, Tulley's Coffee Shop calls their biggest size an Enorme. In keeping with Dave's advice I refuse to say that and now just point at the cup display for my daily coffee.

Since they insist on using Italian names, I always say "Uno espresso doppio, per piacere".

Well at least I always think about saying that . . .

I expect more thorough research from my Pulitzer winners.

Hey it just occured to me that in my high school biology book that the part of a snake where the poop comes out was called the "vent". So from now on when I go to Starbucks and they ask me what size coffee I want I'll say "just give me a snake's backside."

"Excuse me sir?"

"His ass."

And so forth. This will be fun.

I also think that we ought to agree to adopt a Clouseau-type accent whenever we order a coffee.

um- I have been using that accent already

so glad I don't drink coffee

Just so you know... I thin "venti" is Italian for "twenty" - the size of the cup... Drinking two in quick succession is NOT a good idea!

Mark, with strained bladder...

This is me calling Papa Johns to order a pizza.

I'd like a small pizza.
We don't have small, we have medium and large.
Medium is your small?
No, That's our medium.
Then, what's do you have that is smaller than that?
Then how can that be your medium?
I don't know, I just work here and I'm told that our small pizza is our medium pizza.
OK, I'll take that and a small coke
We only have medium and large.

Since Starbuck's owns Seattle's Best, doesn't that make them, at best, Seattle's Second Best Coffee?

Somehow the SBC people don't find that funny. I do, though, and that's what matters.

Go to Tully's in Seattle, or Batdorf and Bronson if you're in Olympia. Better coffee, less pretension.

Seattle's Best is better than Starbuck's simply because of the Javanilla Shake. End. It is orgasm in milkshake form, however, you can order it in size choices of medium or large.

Which is okay for orgasmic milkshakes, in my opinion.

But there aren't any Starbucks OR Seattle's Best in this damnably small town my college is in.

Starbuck's Owns Seattle's Best. Sad...

* to the tune of Rawhide *

Brewin’, brewin’, brewin’
Keep that coffee brewin’
My job I can’t be doin’ ... asleep!
My brain is slowly wakin’
Alertness I am fakin’
Waitin’, just waitin’ for caffeine!

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em on,
Move 'em on, head 'em up, caffeine! *whip crack!*
Make it strong, pour it on,
Leave it black, I’ll be back
Get a cup, drink it up, caffeine!
Drink it up, caffeine!!
(brewin’, brewin’, brewin’)

Thank yew. Thankyew ver' much

MOTW, Didn't they throw beer bottles at Jake and Elwood in that country-western bar to the tune of that song?

Yes, but true professionals that they were, the Blues Brothers and Band finished the song.

* takes another bow, while ducking backstage thanks to Guin*

"Coffee regular" doesn't mean coffee with milk and sugar other places in the U.S.? Really? I thought that was universal. I guess I might have found that out when visiting another part of the country if I wasn't in the habit of ordering "milk, 12 sugars".

rahnia: but you neglected to mention that The Orgasmic Milkshakes wbagnfarb (or would have in the 60s).
And a Javanilla Shake sounds good to me.

MOTW: Bravo! (holds up lighter)

MKJ - I always order "Una tazza di caffè semplice, nessuna panna, nessuno zucchero, nessuni trucchi elaborati"

I vote for sizes: artery clogger, heart arrythmia caffeine, and your favorite extra 20 lbs .
Sorry, cant help it, I'm a nurse.

Dave, With respect to your most recent column "A Tall Order, Grammatically" let me plead on behalf of us lemmings who follow inddiscriminately down the road of stupid marketing presentations. I have on occassion attempted to bypass the store's naming. In one particular instance I was in the mood for a rather large cup of coffee and seeing the three sizes offered, tall, grande and venti, I requested the medium since the 'large' or venti was way beyond my capacity. The clerk returned a very direct and patronizing response informing me that they do not have a medium size. and with respect to the Miami Herald's position that I need to register in their database in order to read or respond . . . I respectfully decline.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About The Miami Herald | Advertise