Going short at Starbucks (it can be a GOOD thing)

Did you ever wonder why the smallest size advertised at Starbucks is a “Tall?” So did I, but I never wondered enough to ask. I sort of assumed that once there had been smaller sizes, but they had become extinct as America became more gluttonous.

I was right. I think. Because it turns out Starbucks also serves a “Short.” Really. It’s 8 ounces, as opposed to the 12 oz. tall. I’ve taken to ordering them lately, if I’m picking up a coffee in the afternoon. It’s a great way to go when you need something, but it’s just a bit late for that much caffeine.

They’re really not a part of the Starbucks routine. In fact, they don’t have sleeves for them. Instead, you get a double cup when you order one.

You have to know to ask for it.

So there’s another reason I order them, aside from being “sensible.” They make me feel cool, like one of the Starbucks cognoscenti.

As you know, I love Starbucks (a fact I appear to have at least alluded to here 54 times). It’s not just the coffee, which is the best. It’s the smell. It’s the music. It’s the sound of beans being freshly ground. It’s the fact that the women there are more beautiful than anywhere else. OK, maybe that’s the caffeine talking. But then, maybe there’s something about Starbucks that attracts beauty. If I could get a grant, I’d do a study.

So it’s just extra great to casually order something (“a Short Pike”) that none of the unwashed around me — not even the beautiful unwashed women — know about. It adds something to the already pleasant experience of being there. I walk out with a swagger, my confidence in my own hipness fully reinforced.

Can  you believe Starbucks doesn’t advertise on this blog? Maybe it’s because I have no clue whom to approach with my pitch. I’m not even getting anything for product placement. Aside from the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing good in this world…

18 thoughts on “Going short at Starbucks (it can be a GOOD thing)

  1. Steven Davis

    I don’t drink coffee and I’d rather smell stale vomit than the smell of coffee so I’ve never stepped foot in a Starbucks. But it is interesting to hear coffee drinkers talk about coffee like drug addicts do about crack or heroin. Then on top of it act like it’s normal to pay $7.00 several times a day for it.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Try turning the cup to present the logo for maximum product placement value…

    But then it would simply remind me of how barren the new logo looks…

  3. Brad

    Steven, you always express yourself in such an appealing way. You should know that I go once or twice a week, and a tall costs $1.60. Or $1.65, or something in that range. A short is less. I’m not sure of the exact prices, because I always use my famous Sex Pistols-style (that’s what one barista noted in admiring it recently) London gift card.

    Mark, as you know, I felt that way about the new logo, but it’s grown on me. I still wonder why they felt compelled to make an official change, though. They could have kept the old one as the official, formal version (which it sort of is, since it’s still on signage), and used stylized versions, such as the new one, in other contexts.

    Maude, here’s the thing about noncorporate, Mom and Pop coffee shops: They pride themselves on serving you in real cups. Nice idea, but the coffee gets cold, really fast.

  4. Brad

    Another thing: Starbucks isn’t McDonald’s. It produces an excellent product, not some lowest-common-denominator junk.

    And wherever you go IN THE WORLD, you can walk in and get that same excellence.

    To paraphrase what Frances said about bread and jam in one of my favorite children’s books, when I get Starbucks coffee, I always know what I am getting, and I am always pleased.

    To put it on a grander scale, being a Starbucks adherent is like being Catholic. Go into a church anywhere in the world, and it’s the same Mass.

  5. bud

    I haven’t had a Starbucks since my daughter started working at the Rocky Roast. Not sure there’s a big difference in the coffee but their Italian ice cream is to die for.

  6. Brad

    MY daughter — my youngest — works at Starbucks. (We live our dreams through our children, you know.)

    Not here in town; in another city. But she has, in the past, worked at the one on Gervais, and the one in Five Points. And in California. And in Pennsylvania.

    Actually, she is how I learned about the “short” coffee.

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    McDOnald’s coffee is very good–not Starbucks–but many coffee fiends prefer its less burned taste (I like Starbucks, and better than Drip, too).

    If you really want some coffee flavor with less caffeine, espresso has much less caffeine than brewed, and considerably more flavor. The darker the roast, the less caffeine.

  8. Steven Davis

    “Steven, you always express yourself in such an appealing way. You should know that I go once or twice a week,”

    As much as you write about your glorious trips to Starbucks, let’s just say it seems like it’s much more often.

    Who’da thunk that coffee would get cold faster in ceramic cups than it would in a paper cup. Maybe I need to invent a ceramic cup warmer so it’d be like the plates at any Mexican restaurant. “careful, hot cup”.

  9. Jesse S.

    Can’t say I’ve ever been to a mom and pop who exclusively did the “your cup” thing.

    Dunno, I started out with mom and pop’s and Starbucks so often feels like I’m standing in line at a pharmacy. Universal consistency may be cool and all, but the personality, local color and even small talk with the barista just isn’t the same.

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    Also, ceramic cups are usually cold when you put the drink in them, unless you pre-warm them with hot water, so they draw the heat out quicker!

  11. Phillip

    Bud, I went into Rocky Roast for first time the other day and got a really good latte. I’m just worried about the size of that place and the rent they must be paying, not sure how they are going to last. I hope they do last, and Drip also. Since in Starbucks’ initial growth explosion in the 90’s they made conscious decisions to locate as close to other independent coffee shops as possible (with the intention of driving them out of business), I think it’s kind of a neat twist that Drip and Rocky Roast both opened “in Starbucks’ face” so to speak.

  12. Herb Brasher

    Thanks for the tip! Good to know.

    But how do you know that every Starbucks all over the world is the same? How much research have you done on that? Sorry, just asking.

    I always get a little annoyed when people say that every snowflake is unique, no two alike. How do they know, unless they’ve looked at all of them?

  13. bud

    Phillip, I worry about the viability of Rocky Roast very much. But I’ll do my part at least. My daughter indicates they do a pretty good business in the early am and during the evenings, especially ball game weekends. The middle of the day, not so much. Starbucks ALWAYS seem busy.

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    Wow–I didn’t even know they were there. I will check them out!

    @ Herb–It turns out the science behind “every fingerprint is unique” is not very good. The snowflake thing is more of a mathematical calculation based on fractals, I’m told.


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