Rant and Rave

Car Talk Call to Action:
Help Us Overthrow the Tall/Short Mafia
at Starbucks Coffee

by Tom Magliozzi


Our New Year's Resolution this year involves Starbucks Coffee.

Now as good as their coffee is, they have unnecessarily complicated my life and probably everyone else's life, too. I'm not even going to deal with the fact that they make you choose between a million different kinds of coffee, like decaf, macchiato, americano, skinny, ice, mocha, latte, schmatte, and all that stuff. We'll deal with that problem another time.

Today, I want to deal with their ridiculous size-related nomenclature. And I want to tell you what WE can do to wipe it off the face of the earth. Keep reading, because this "resolution" includes an exciting call to action that we can ALL participate in.

Remember the old days, when you asked for a cup of coffee and someone would say, "Large or small?" Well, apparently, "large" and "small," weren't good enough for Starbucks. Noooooo. So they come out with "short" and "tall." That's pretentious, but it's not the end of the world. If it had stopped there, I wouldn't be asking the entire Car Talk Nation to rise up and join me in my Coffee Action today.

So what went wrong? Well, suddenly, "tall" becomes "medium." So if you ask for a "tall," you get a "medium." Well, I didn't want a "medium." I wanted TALL! Tall is what!? BIG! TALL! Right??

It turns out they've introduced a new size...above "tall." "Grande!" So now "grande" is large, "tall" is medium, and "short" is small. You following me?

Then they add a whole 'nother group of drinks, for which there is an even LARGER size than "grande." Now, in some drink categories, you can get a "vente!" That's apparently Italian for "humongous." And to make matters worse, you can't get a "short" in that category, so "tall" becomes "small!" I went in and asked for a "tall," and I got the smallest thing on the menu! And I'm sick of it!!! Sick I say!

So for the last three months, every time I go into one of their stores, I end up having a fight with the poor guy with the nose-ring behind the counter. I say "I want a small iced cappuccino." and they guy says, "You mean tall?" "NO, I DON'T MEAN TALL! I said small and I mean small!" and I duke it out with the guy while ten people behind me are yelling and screaming to have me physically ejected from the store. Then I have to go down the street to Dunkin Donuts--where they still understand the words "large" and "small."

So here's my resolution, and I hope everyone reading this today will join me in this worthwhile project. I'm going to walk into Starbucks from now on and I'm going to refuse to play their game. I'm going to refuse to use their obtuse nomenclature.

From now on, I'm going to walk up to the counter and say, "Gimme two bucks worth," and when they say, "Do you want tall, grande, short, vente..." I'm gonna say, "you figure it out." Here's my two bucks, give me as much coffee as that'll buy. And if they have to fill the thing up three quarters of the way, or give me a cup and a half, that's their problem.

So next time you walk into a Starbucks... just walk up to the counter and say "give me a buck fifty's worth of decaf," and see what they do. It's kind of like Alice's Restaurant. If we can get the whole country doing this, I think we may get them to stop this ridiculousness.

So whadda ya say? Are you with me on this? Good. Now let's go get some coffee!

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