Starbucks Cup Sizes and Terminology Explained

Do you get a bit confused by Starbucks cup sizes when you’re ordering a drink from them? You’re not the only one. Paul Rudd’s character had a similar problem in one of film’s most famous coffee scenes.

The cup sizes at Starbucks are inspired by Italy, so they are different than what you might find at another neighborhood coffee shop. But it is simple once you get the basics down. We’re here to help with that.

What are the cup sizes at Starbucks?

The cup sizes at Starbucks were inspired by the founder’s trip to Italy in the early 1980s, when former Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz visited Italian coffee bars and fell head over heels in love with Italian coffee culture. This compelled him to try to replicate the experience back in the U.S.—including the distinctive names for the beverages that pay homage to Italian heritage.

Here is a breakdown of the cup sizes that customers find at Starbucks:

Graphic showing a measuring cylinder with pointers indicating how high each Starbucks drink size would go
© Bean Poet

What is a sample cup? (3 fl. oz.)

You won’t find the 3-ounce sample cup widely, as it is used for tastings and samples, not customer orders. This wee size also does not come with a lid.

What is a Short? (8 fl. oz.)

Short Starbucks cup on a wooden plank surface
Starbucks Short cup.

Many believe that the Starbucks short, containing eight ounces, is the perfect size for a cappuccino. The short-sized Starbucks drink is not on the menu at many locations but is still available to customers upon request.

What is a Tall? (12 fl. oz.)

Tall Starbucks cup next to a Macbook computer
Starbucks Tall cup.

When it comes to the Starbucks menu, the Tall is the smallest coffee size you will find. The Tall contains 12 ounces of your favorite beverage, iced or hot. Tall espresso beverages such as lattes and macchiatos, have one shot of espresso, but you can request more if you wish.

What is a Grande? (16 fl. oz.)

Hand holding up a Grande Starbucks cup with water and a bridge in the background
Starbucks Grande cup.

A Starbucks’ Grande is 16 ounces of your favorite hot or iced beverage. When ordering espresso drinks, you will get a double shot of espresso in a Grande.

What is a Venti?

Hand places a Venti Starbucks cup next to a computer
Starbucks Venti cup (hot).

The Starbucks’ Venti is a bit different than other sizes, in that it varies depending on whether you order hot or cold beverages. Hot drinks contain 20 ounces, while a cold drink is 24 ounces. If you are ordering a hot espresso drink, like a latte, the Venti contains two shots of espresso unless you request more. The iced Venti, however, contains an extra shot of espresso to make it three.

Hot (20 fl. oz.)

A hot Venti beverage contains 20 ounces of your favorite beverage.

Cold (24 fl. oz.)

A cold Venti beverage at Starbucks contains 24 ounces.

Why is a cold Venti bigger than a hot Venti?

A cold Venti is four ounces larger than a hot Venti to allow room for the ice. If you order your iced Venti beverage without ice at Starbucks, you may get a bit more beverage but it will not be icy cold.

What is a Trenta? (31 fl. oz.)

The Trenta is the largest of all sizes offered at Starbucks, containing 31 ounces and is only available for specific iced beverages. You can order cold brew, iced coffee, Refreshers, brewed iced tea and lemonade in Trenta, but not Frappuccinos, iced espresso drinks, or Starbucks nitro cold brew. Some of the iced espresso drinks not offered in this size include lattes, mochas, macchiatos, shaken espressos, flat whites and Americanos.

Newspaper graphic showing Starbucks cup sizes compared to an average human stomach
This graphic from Canada’s National Post newspaper went viral in 2011 when Starbucks introduced its new “Trenta” size.

How many shots of espresso in each size?

So, what about ordering an espresso? Espresso shots have their own set of sizes and distinctive names, too. When you order espresso shots at Starbucks, here is what you get:

  • Solo equates to .75 ounces of espresso.
  • A doppio is 1.5 ounces of espresso.
  • Triple is around 2.25 ounces of espresso.
  • Quad is three ounces of espresso.

How many pumps of syrup in each size?

Who doesn’t want a pump or two of their favorite sweet syrup? But how many pumps do you get? Here is the breakdown of how many pumps of syrup you can expect in your Starbucks beverage:

  • Short drinks get two pumps of syrup, unless requested otherwise.
  • Tall drinks get three pumps of syrup.
  • A Grande size beverage gets four pumps.
  • A hot Venti beverage gets five pumps; cold Venti beverages get six.
  • The Trenta gets a whopping seven pumps of syrup.

As with anything, there are a couple of exceptions to this syrup-pump rule.

Exceptions

The exceptions to these syrup guidelines include the iced shaken espresso drinks, which get the same number of pumps but the Starbucks brown sugar syrup pumps are actually half-pumps, making this a less-sweet option for consumers.

Another exception to the pump rule is the very popular Caramel Macchiato. The hot and cold variations of this beverage receive one less pump than other similar-sized offerings. It does, however, have a drizzle of caramel sauce on top of the drink.

What to order when what you really want is a…

Small

  • At eight ounces, a Short is a full cup, and is comparable to a small cup of coffee in other venues.

Medium

  • If you want a medium-sized coffee drink, try a Tall, which is 12 ounces.

Large

  • Coffee-lovers looking for a large cup may be satisfied with Starbucks’ Grande: a full 16 ounces of goodness.

Not enough coffee for you? Go with an extra-large, or at Starbucks, a Venti, which contains 20 ounces of your favorite hot beverage or 24 ounces when you order it iced.

Whatever you order, bring your own tumbler and save 10 cents off your beverage. Don’t have a travel cup or tumbler? Buy a cost-efficient one at your local Starbucks for merely $1. This investment pays for itself after only 10 visits. 

Now that you know the cup sizes and other tidbits about Starbucks, go enjoy your favorite beverage. Or try one of our recommended Starbucks coffee drinks that have contributed to the popularity and culture of this company. The choice is yours!

Sidewalk tables and chairs outside a Caffe Nero espresso bar in London
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