Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A lot of people don't know that...

... that when you go into a Starbucks and order a "venti", you're not asking for something that's extra large. You're asking for a 20 [ounce container of steamed milk] which is (to a pedant) as amusing as asking for a "latte" [milk] when you wanted coffee with steamed milk. And the kind of person who points this out is the kind of person with no life who'd chortle to himself about how clever he was as he gives you 20 ounces of steamed milk rather than the coffee you both knew you wanted. And clearly he can't have been that clever, because how many Italians use Imperial measurements? And come to think of it, wouldn't an American ounce probably be a bit smaller than an English ounce, and since we were the ones with the Empire first, thankyouverymuch surely you've got Colonial measurements and not Imperial?

But enough of this smug pedantry. It's not good for the onlooker or the involved. It's of use to understand the etymology of "venti" means they're supplying you with a 20-ounce container (or 24-ounce for cold drinks, apparently), because then you don't just stand there saying "oh, cor blimey, how pretentious of them to make up the names of the cups with no relation to reality." Yes, it is pretentious for an American company to name cup sizes after Italian numbers (and inconsistent because they don't do it for any of the rest), but that still means it bears more relation to reality than you gave it credit for.

And while we're at it, shouldn't you be drinking a short cup anyway, not a tall? Tall is not a small cup of coffee unless you're some sort of fat beast.

At least, I've gleaned this rage through paying attention while reading books on Starbucks (the tall/short/small/slightly larger sleight-of-hand is a wonder of modern revenue management) but I've also been looking on My Starbucks Idea, which collects all the idiocy anyone could ever bear to read about Starbucks, and people who really really want to pay to wear a shirt to advertise Starbucks to other people, and an awful lot of people who can't spell venti correctly. Oh, and Bruce, who if he'd read what I've just been through, maybe wouldn't be moaning quite so plaintively. What is "normal" anyway?

I'll stop now before I get angry.


Post a Comment