The Starbucks Cup Size Myth That's Been Totally Debunked

Starbucks cup
Starbucks cup - supaporn lomakool/Shutterstock

Starbucks continues to be the most popular and well-recognized coffee shop chain by a very large margin — in 2023, the retailer had 38,038 locations open around the world, per Statista. Even with such a large and dedicated fan base, Starbucks is not immune to customer critique. A few years back, Starbucks came under fire after videos emerged online allegedly proving that all the coffee shop's cup sizes hold the same amount of liquid.

Starbucks offers its handcrafted drinks in six sizes: Short (8 oz), Tall (12 oz), Grande (16 oz), Venti Hot (20 oz), Venti Cold (24 oz), and Trenta (30 oz). However, according to various TikTok users, most of these cup sizes hold the same amount of liquid. Many creators shared "findings" that proved that the Tall, Grande, and Venti cups all held roughly the same amount of liquid, and claimed that Starbucks was scamming customers out of their money by charging more for larger sizes.

However, the claims made in these videos have been debunked, and if you look really closely, you can see the camera tricks that made these pouring pranks seem real. One TikTok in particular went viral in 2022 after a creator showed that the Tall size held more liquid than the subsequently larger sizes. While the editing is cleverly done to make it appear as though the video was shot all in one take, a careful watch will show that more coffee was added off-camera each time a cup was turned around.

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Properly Conducted Experiments Prove That Starbucks Isn't Scamming Anyone With Its Cup Sizes

starbucks cup sizing display
starbucks cup sizing display - Rakha aim/Shutterstock

There are a few ways that creators have been able to manipulate perceptions in their pouring videos to make it seem like all Starbucks cups hold the same amount of liquid. Some TikTok videos intentionally did not show the bottom of each cup, where extra liquid was likely being stored. Another video on Facebook had claims in the comments that they were using fake Starbucks cups while pouring. Sneaky cuts in editing can also work serious movie magic and convince audiences that larger cups hold less drink than smaller ones. Fortunately for concerned customers who may have initially fallen for the prank, science saved the day. An experiment conducted on YouTube utilized clear Starbucks cups in full view, with no cuts in editing, to show how much liquid each Starbucks cup holds. Using proper measuring tools, the results concluded that each cup properly held the liquid advertised.

Starbucks is not the first beverage retailer to fall victim to this online prank. In 2020, a TikTok video with over 12.1 million views used the same pouring method to show that McDonald's was also allegedly manipulating its cup sizes. As popular as this video was, many people in the comments weren't falling for it. One user wrote, "That's what happens when you fill up each of the cups slightly and then pour more in." Clearly, you cannot trust everything you see on the internet.

Starbucks Cup Sizes Have Unique Names For A Reason

Starbucks cups
Starbucks cups - Rezawandi/Shutterstock

While the claims that Starbucks cups are all the same size have been properly debunked, that hasn't stopped critics from coming after the chain's cups. Whether it's the sizing, the naming conventions, or the designs printed on them for the holidays, Starbucks cups have been the center of controversy more than once. Each time Starbucks cups get even a small redesign, fans have something to say about it.

One of the most interesting critiques that customers continue to have about the Starbucks cups is the unconventional naming for each size. For those who do not frequent Starbucks or are new to the scene, it's not immediately clear that "Tall" means small and "Venti" means large. After all, ordering a Tall size drink and receiving a cup that holds no more than 12 ounces doesn't exactly make sense if you weren't expecting it. The decision to have these unique names was made by Starbucks' former director of retail operations and marketing, Howard Schultz. On a trip to Italy, he was inspired by the chic naming conventions for coffee and chose Italian-style names to stand out from other shops. Venti means "twenty" in Italian, referencing the amount of ounces that the hot Venti cup holds. While we admit there is a bit of a learning curve, with some practice, anyone can learn to speak Starbucks and order like a pro.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.