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BellaOnline's Coffee Editor

Can You Speak Starbucks?

One of my daughters is a newbie to the coffee world and just enjoys an occasional cup. Her first foray into Starbucks gave her the impression that she had entered the hallowed halls of some mysterious secret society. She was on line busy studying the menu, a daunting task in and of itself when she heard the woman in front of her ask for a venti with double shots and a few other things. She promptly stepped off the line looking in her purse as though she had forgotten something and left the store.

I really laughed at her story but the truth is even I would have to ask questions about a few things on the menu and in New York, the city that never sleeps from drinking all that coffee I presume, you don't really want to mess up the flow of a line with too many questions. The people behind you will roll their eyes and groan at best. We really don’t want to talk about the worst so we will leave it at that.

Starbucks may not be a secret society, but it would certainly make it easier to order if there were an official glossary of sorts. Evidently, there is not (trust me, I’ve asked) so if you really want a great experience in Starbucks, you should do a little homework beforehand. Visiting Starbucks’ website would be a good idea to at least see what the product offerings are but you won't find all of your questions answered there.

Here are a few tips to get you started.


The person who makes your drink. These employees are extremely knowledgeable and have had the finest coffee education that Starbucks can give. So go ahead and ask questions. Just don’t hold up the line.

Cup size:

Somehow, people are reinventing the names for small, medium and large. Someone must have said that people are easily fooled when you call a small ‘tall’, a medium ‘grande’ and a large ‘Venti’ (Italian for 20 as in 20 ounces—even this gets confusing because sometimes it can be 24 ounces). And do you know they actually have a small, known as short but it is not on the menu? Hmm… maybe Starbucks really is a secret society.


Non-fat milk and sugar free syrup


One shot is one ounce of espresso. You can add shots to your coffee to make it stronger.


Basically an espresso with steamed milk, one of my favorites. It’s smooth and milky with no bite--great for iced coffee.

I have to say though, that the Starbucks website beverage lineup is great as far as getting an idea of what you might want to order and getting nutrition information while playing with the size and extras you might want.

Then you will be able to step into Starbucks with confidence and order like a pro. Good luck with that.

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