The Quick Guide To The 4 Starbucks To-Go Cup Sizes: Perfect Sips for Every Preference

Last updated on January 15th, 2024 at 06:30 pm

Do you understand the Starbucks to-go cup sizes?

Whenever I chat with my friends and family about coffee, Starbucks to-go cup sizes [1] comes up quite often. A few times people told me that Starbucks to-go cup sizes were very confusing and asked me to write an article about it.  In order to clarify this minor but interesting detail of Starbucks to-go cup sizes, in this article, I will explain the various Starbucks to-go cup sizes, including the recently introduced “Short” size.

Starbucks, the most popular coffee chain in the world, continues to captivate coffee enthusiasts with its exquisite brews and convenient to-go options. To cater to diverse tastes and consumption needs, Starbucks offers four unique Starbucks to-go cup sizes for its coffee.

4 Starbucks to-go cup sizes:

They are Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti[2]. The “Short” and “Tall” are very easy to understand for most English speakers, but “Grande” and “Venti” are not well understood even by native English speakers.

StarbucksShopSign - Copy
An Interior Lighted Starbucks Shop Sign Mounted On the Wooden Slate Wall

Starbucks to-go cup sizes can be loosely equated to the concept of small, medium, and large. However, it’s important to note that Starbucks uses its unique size names: Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti. While the Starbucks to-go cup sizes may have different specific capacities compared to traditional small, medium, and large sizes at other coffee establishments, the relative ordering of sizes is generally consistent.

To provide a rough comparison:

The Short size at Starbucks is similar to a small size.

The Tall size is equivalent to a medium or regular size.

The Grande size can be considered as a large size.

The Venti size, particularly the iced variant, is larger than a traditional large size, offering an even more substantial serving.

It’s worth mentioning that the exact fluid ounces or milliliters may differ between Starbucks to-go cups and other coffee chains, and the specific capacity of the sizes can vary based on the type of beverage (hot or iced). Nevertheless, the general idea is that Starbucks to-go cup sizes offers a range that cater to different preferences and levels of consumption, aligning with the concept of small, medium, and large sizes commonly found in the coffee industry.

On a wooden oval coffee top sits two Starbucks to-go cups for hot coffee. The one slightly in the front of the picture is a short size, the one next to it, slightly in the back is a tall size. These are two of the Starbucks to-go cup sizes for its hot coffee.
A Short and Tall Starbucks To-Go Coffee Cups

Full Explanation for the 4 Starbucks To-Go Cup Sizes:

1. Short: 8 fl oz (237 ml), A Compact Delight

The “Short” is the newest addition to Starbucks’ to-go cup size. Holding 8 fluid ounces (237 milliliters) of liquid, the Short size provides a compact option for those seeking a smaller serving. This size is perfect for individuals who desire a quick pick-me-up or prefer a more concentrated and intense coffee experience, such as one or two shots of espresso.

2. Tall: 12 fl oz (355 ml), Classic and Versatile

Moving up the size chart, the familiar “Tall” cup holds 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters) of coffee. “Tall” size is a versatile option, ideal for those who prefer a moderate serving that strikes a balance between richness and quantity. It remains a popular choice for many regular Starbucks customers, providing a satisfying coffee experience in a manageable cup size.

3. Grande: 16 fl oz (473 ml), A Generous Brew

For those seeking a more substantial serving, Starbucks offers the “Grande” size, holding 16 fluid ounces (473 milliliters) of coffee. The Grande strikes the perfect balance between flavor and quantity, providing a generous Starbucks to-go cup size favored by those seeking a satisfying and robust coffee experience. Since some Starbucks drinks are packed with high amounts of energy in terms of calories, a cup of Grande can be had as a meal, particularly a quick meal on the go. 

Two Starbucks To-Go Cups on a wooden park bench. Both cups show there is iced coffee in them through the cups semi transparent plastic. The tall one in the foreground is a "grande" size, the one next to it but in the background is a "tall" size. These are the 2 Starbucks To-Go cup sizes.
A Grande and A Tall Starbucks To-Go Coffee Cups For Iced Coffee
4. Venti: 20 fl oz (591 ml), Amplify the Indulgence

The “Venti” size offers coffee enthusiasts an even larger option. Starbucks to-go cup sizes provides two variations of the Venti size: one for hot beverages, holding 20 fluid ounces (591 milliliters), and another for iced drinks, holding 24 fluid ounces (710 milliliters). With its larger capacity, the Venti size is perfect for those who crave a more pronounced and indulgent coffee experience, ensuring you can savor every sip or share with your loved one. Nevertheless, this size is quite big for me, I would consider it an explicit indulgence!

So, where do “Grande” and “Venti” come from?

Grande is Italian for “large.” Venti means “twenty,”[3] and Trenta, which Starbucks does not carry anymore, means “thirty” (30 fl oz!) Somehow grande conjures associations with the English grand. Interestingly, just as a personal note, every time when I think of “Trenta”, the thought of its mere size would terrorize me, it is just way too big for this Starbucks to-go cup size.

The legend says, which I could not verify whether is true or not:

“The reason behind Starbucks’ to-go cup sizes has everything to do with the brand’s Italy-inspired origins. Howard Schultz, the Starbucks founder, took a trip to Italy in 1983 and was inspired to make his American chain more like the coffee bars he visited there. 

In 1986, Schultz was working on a coffee chain called Il Giornale, which means “the newspaper” in Italian. Il Giornale sparked the sizing names short, tall, and grande. The three initial Il Giornale locations were renamed Starbucks in 1987, and their unique Starbucks to-go cup sizes stuck.”[4]

Customization and Sustainability At Starbucks

Alongside the 4 Starbucks to-go cup sizes, Starbucks also offers customization options to tailor your coffee just the way you like it. You can personalize your drink by adding extra espresso shots, flavored syrups, or choosing from an array of milk alternatives. This customization allows you to craft a coffee that suits your taste preferences and ensures a unique and enjoyable experience.

Moreover, Starbucks is committed to sustainability. They encourage customers to bring their own reusable cups[5], reducing waste and environmental impact. When using their to-go cups, Starbucks utilizes materials and designs that prioritize recyclability and minimize ecological harm.

In Summary

Starbucks continues to excel in delivering a remarkable coffee experience, and its range of Starbucks to-go cup sizes ensures there’s a perfect option for every coffee lover. Starbucks caters to diverse preferences and consumption needs. Whether you desire a compact delight or an amplified indulgence, Starbucks to-go cup sizes offer the ideal vessel to enjoy their premium brews on the move. So, the next time you visit Starbucks, select the Starbuck to-go cup size that aligns with your preferences and relish the exquisite flavors that await within. 

Here are two small tips for ordering “grande’ or “venti”:

Make sure every time when you say “grande”, you must twist your tongue a little bit to emphasize the “R” accent, to make the pronunciation as much close as its original Italian way of saying it and . Here is a YouTube video teaching the pronunciation for “Venti” [6], probably the best way to learn how to pronounce it properly.

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