CBC News

Mega coffee, ASAP!

By Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca

In the new movie Role Models, the frustrated character Danny delivers a sharp rant against the rebranding of small, medium and large at Starbucks.

Danny – as portrayed by Paul Rudd – orders a large black coffee. When the server tells him a venti is large, he replies: "No venti is 20." He proceeds to bicker with the barista and his girlfriend, charging that only Fellini would order his coffee using Starbucks' terminology.

In an interview at the New Yorker festival last month, Rudd discussed his disdain for the trendy new monikers. Rudd explained that for him, the new cup sizes are on par with the phrases "been there done that," "ASAP" and "24-7."

"What is wrong with small, medium and large?" he asked. "Nothing. [The new labels] just make the world a worse place."

He also noted the demise of small, medium and large has not been limited to the U.S. One coffee shop in England uses Mega for its large designation, he said.

"There are such inconsistencies with language. I'll take a mega coffee?" he said.

What are your food packaging pet peeves?

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Those size monikers are annoying, for sure, also the prices for things at Starbuck's in sheer insanity. One cookie for $1.85? Granted,it's huge, but maybe make smaller cookies, since my kid is not going to finish that huge cookie anyway!

I also hate the overpackaging of foods, including the sort of crispy plastic boxes that pastries come in from the grocery store.

Posted November 12, 2008 10:38 AM


There has always been subterfuge in Starbucks' sizing. For a long, long time, the average customer didn't even know about the "short" size; you had to ask for it specifically. A great article in Slate a couple of years ago pointed out that for a latte, the short actually gave you the best bang for you buck: it had the best ratio of espresso to milk. The tall/grande/venti versions didn't give you more espresso; they just gave you more milk.

Posted November 12, 2008 12:05 PM

Johnny 16


1996 called: They wanted their complaint box back.

Posted November 14, 2008 01:30 PM



Have you ever seen those special biscuits and cookies from Japan? They're beautifully packaged but a ridiculous waste of material. Each cookie (and they're not that tasty) is wrapped individually in plastic, then placed individually in a bed of plastic grooves, then packed in a box that's wrapped with tissue paper, and wrapped again in thicker paper, then finally adorned with a bow.
You get maybe 12 cookies in all of that.

Posted November 14, 2008 04:31 PM



My biggest pet peeve is "chai tea". Chai means tea! Get it right.

Posted November 14, 2008 10:08 PM

Cheek Monk


Starbucks is over-rated. I don't buy their expensive coffee and ridiculas snacks. I recently got into baking. It's so easy and quick. Not to mention fresh. Also I know the kind of ingredient that goes into it. But when I do go to Starbucks (usually when no other choice is around) I would order small, medium, large. I don't care what the menu says. The cashier knows what I mean when I say medium. I am not learning their lingo.

Posted November 17, 2008 11:47 AM



I copmletely agree with Cheek Monk - baking things yourself is so much more rewarding.

Starbucks is totally overrated, and their regular cup 'o Joe isn't that delectable. I would rather brew at home.

Packaging pet peeves: plastic around and inside the box, and individually wrapped items within. If it is contained in so much plastic, it is clearly NOT fresh!

Posted November 18, 2008 01:58 AM


My pet peeve is watching folks spend good money on take out coffee when a pound of Folgers is $5 or $6 and a coffe pot costs $10.00 - make your own. I know people who never make coffee at home, always buy it. What a waste of money. The only time I buy coffee is when I am out or travelling.
Home baking is not that hard either and tastes better.

Posted November 21, 2008 05:29 PM


Starbucks isn't really more expensive for coffee than Timmies. Maybe 5 cents on the sizes. But the coffee at Starbucks is WAY better. The extra cost for coffee at Starbucks is all the extras people add on - that's how you get a five dollar coffee. And That is WAY overpriced.

Posted November 22, 2008 01:04 AM

Ian J


Starbucks is not alone in this - I went to Dairy Queen in the summer to get a whip-thing, I think they call it a Blizzard. I looked at the overhead menu and ordered a small. The cashier then charged me the medium price, so I balked. Turns out the overhead menu shows Medium Large and Extra Large with no distinction of size besides the price; and Small is over there on a very small sign nowhere near the overhead menu. The manager told me that was logical and sensible. I disagreed. I have also ridiculed Starbucks staff (on the one and last occasion I actually went there) when they insist on whatever size it is, also the bewildering array of different foreign names - may I just have a large coffee, please? I really don't care if it's Sulawesi catcrap, Ethiopian freeshare, Alberta crude or venti, grande or anything else, as long as it tastes like coffee.

Posted November 22, 2008 11:14 PM



All last year, I worked at a cafe on the Bow River in Calgary. Our sizes were Medium, Large and Extra Large, which even I, as an emloyee, hated. Regular customers knew that by ordering a large they really were getting a medium, but whenever I didn't recognize them I always worried that I wasn't giving them the size that they really wanted.
The sizes we sold were posted quite visibly though, as is usually the case, so I personally think that customers have no one to blame but themselves for size mix-ups.
One thing that threw me off a bit though, was when someone would come in ordering a "tall". In Starbucks-lingo, that's a small and I always assumed that that's what the customer wanted. On numerous occasions, however, I was wrong: they wanted a large.
Also...Starbucks has ruined the Macchiato. A real macchiato is espresso "marked" (that's the meaning of the name) with foamed milk. A few times, someone would order a macchiato and I would make them one. A real one. Problem: What they REALLY wanted was a vanilla latte with caramel sauce in a criss cross on top. Starbucks-style.

I have to say though, in the GRAND scheme of things, is it really that hard to read the board of coffee drinks when you walk into a cafe, figure out how their sizes work and then order whatever size it is that corresponds with your need for caffeine?

Posted November 26, 2008 11:53 AM

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