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STARBUCKS: "A Vente?" "Yo, just gimmee a big cuppa Jo!!"

Aug 30, 2004 (Updated Oct 5, 2004)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The coffee is terrific!!

Cons:I still need "How to order properly" lessons.

The Bottom Line: Starbucks has great coffee. That's why I go there.

I have a Love/Hate relationship with this place. The coffee is great but I dislike having to walk in with a multi-language dictionary and a world map. I just can't keep all the information in my head.

This place seems to work with its own language and, though I have been going to these places for years now, I still don't think I understand the sizes I'm ordering. What happened to small, medium and large?


So I go in and ask for a large coffee. The pleasant young woman behind the counter tells me, "We don't have large, we have Tall, Grande, and Vente." Mmm, I think to myself, "What's a Vente?" I never heard the word before. My next thought is, "OK, Grande must be pretty big, but then they also mentioned a Tall. I suppose a Tall might be bigger than a Grande, but maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps a Grande is bigger than a Tall". I just don't know. In any case I want the largest coffee I can get my hands on so I take a chance and order a Tall. Then I look at the cup they start to place my order in. It's small! I quickly stop them, "NO!! I want the largest size, give me the Grande". She answers saying, "No, if it's the largest size you want then you may want a Vente". "Huh", I think. Then I ask, "A Vente is larger than a Grande?" "Yes, of course" she answers. I then reply, "Then why is a medium called a Grande?" "Because that's what it is", I hear from behind the counter. I then ask, "If a small is not tall, then why do you call it a Tall at all"? She answers with a confused look on her face, "The Tall, IS small!" I then ask if there is anything smaller than a Tall, she says, "Not at all".

It smells great in this place and I still want my cup-a-coffee. I say, "OK, I want the largest coffee you have and if I understand this correctly, a Grande, even though it is called a Grande, that I picture as big, is not as large as Vente, correct?" She answers, "Correct". I continue, "So if I want the largest coffee you sell all I have to do is say 'Vente'. Is that correct?" She answers, "Yes, That's correct". I then ask, "Well, why couldn't you just give me a Vente when I first asked for a large coffee?" "Because", she tells me as a matter of fact and in stern fashion, "We don't sell large coffee, we serve Tall, Grande and Vente."


I've been to many Starbucks in the Long island and NYC area. Most are brightly lighted with a front counter with a glassed-in showcase displaying biscotti, cookies and other extras to purchase with your coffee selection. The chocolate dipped biscotti is well worth trying. I have found the counter people to be generally very pleasant and helpful. When customers are around, they get right to work. The process of making some of their products does seem labor intensive and though there are just one or two people in front of you, you may still have to wait a while for service. I do like the fact that you can watch the counter person make your order.

Most Starbucks in the city have counter space with stools and perhaps a few very small tables and some chairs. On Long Island where the stores are usually larger, you may find a comfortable area set up like a living room with indirect lighting and soft easy chairs and couches. Some have table games and most have magazines to thumb through. They are comfortable and the fact is, if someone is in those seats when you arrive, you can pretty much forget about getting into them. It seems to me that most people who get them stay a while.

I have found the stores to be very clean and restrooms to be clean and well stocked.


Now here's something else that happened when they were making my first very first cup of coffee. I was still thinking about the sizes when I hear the gal say, "room?" I look around not sure what she meant. Then I thought maybe it's how she asks if it is a take out or if I'm going to have it in their comfortable living room type atmosphere. Not really sure, I answered a questioning, "room?". She then gave a strange look and says firmly, "need room?" Now I'm a pretty big guy but there doesn't seem to be any problem about space in this place. I look at her in a perplexed manor. She then asks, "Do you 'need room' for milk or cream?". Now I finally understand! I say, "No, please put the milk right in my coffee." She then says, "We don't do that". Now I have a "What the H...", in my head and I'm wondering where this is going to go now. I then get a gentle tap on my shoulder, from a customer standing behind me, and I am pointed to the self service bar that has the cream and sugar. Thankfully I didn't have to start further dialog with the counter person. The bar has milk, cream, and low fat milk along with soy products and sugar, sugar substitutes and a host of other add-ins.

Once I understood the gal about "room", I answered, "Yes, room". When I received my coffee there wasn't any room in the top of the cup to even pour in a thimble full of dairy product anyway. This happens every time whether I say "room" or not.


Starbucks is known for its international Coffees that come from three general regions of the world. The African Arabia area get coffee from countries like Yemen, Kenya and Etheopia. Mmm, I never thought about it before, but I wonder if it's the coffee that helps those long distance runners from some of those countries to be so competitive?

Another region is the Pacific where most of the coffee comes from Indonesia. Closer to home are out Latin American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and of course Columbia.

It's not just where the coffee comes from but the process of roasting that helps make Starbucks coffee so rich tasting. I don't know much about it but they claim that is the secret to excellent coffee.

One thing I do like is that Starbucks highlights a "Coffee of the Day" I like trying different coffees. One problem I have found is that when walking into an unfamiliar Starbucks, I sometimes have to look around a while or ask what the coffee of the day is. Unfortunately it is not always prominently displayed. Now this is sometimes a problem because I can be a little hard of hearing and if I have to ask again as to the blend of coffee and then start up with the sizes again, we have definitely gotten off to a bad start.

I happen to like their Sumatra, French Roast and Christmas Blend. These are considered their Bold coffee blends. They have many others too.

A mild coffee that is often the special is the House Blend that is touted to be their best selling coffee. They have this in a decaf too. As with their bold and mild coffee they also have a list of smooth and flavourful coffee that also comes as a decaf.


Each Starbucks has a bit of retail space put aside selling many different blends of coffee. Starbucks brand Logos can be found on a selection of porcelain and insulated coffee cups. If you look around you will probably find a display of Coffee Makers like espresso machines, grinders, and Drip Coffee Blenders. There is also a promise of bringing the tastes and smell of the Starbucks Store right into your own home. Someday I'll break down and get an espresso machine.


In the summer months I'll break down and treat myself to a Iced Caffe Latte, Espresso and milk poured over ice.
The espresso is good this way. I have had just double shots of it hot and I find it full of rich flavour but chalky to the tongue.

The real treat is a Caramel Frappuccino, Coffee and creamy caramel blended with ice, topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce. This is sinful with the caramel dripping over the whipped cream!

The menu also includes teas both hot and cold. Another great summer drink is the Caramel Apple Cider,
Hot apple cider with creamy caramel, cinnamon and whipped cream.


Most of these whipped cream type deals run about $4-$5 depending on where the franchise is. A cup of coffee usually starts at $1.75 and can go as high as $3 and change for a ....a....was that a Tall, Grande, or a Vente?

More chain eateries by popsrocks

Applebee's / Romano's MACARONI GRILL / KFC / OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE / Wendy's / OUTBACK Restaurant / Cozymel's / Cheesecake Factory / McDonald's / Taco Bell / Checkers Burgers / Red Lobster / The White Castle / TGI Friday's / Charlie Browns / Burger King / Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips / Dunkin' Donuts / Starbucks / Ralph's Famous Ices / Cold Stone Creamery / CARVEL Ice Cream / Boulder Creek Steakhouse / Waffle House / Krispy Kreme / Friendly's / Nathan's / Jillian's / Blimpies / Quizno's / jumba juice

Recommend this product? Yes

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