Does Starbucks use proper coffee terminology?

Starbucks and coffee terminology leads many to wonder if Starbucks uses proper coffee terminology or if they have simply created their own coffee lingo to go with their massively popular coffee chain. The answer lies somewhere in between the two. A closer look at Starbucks lingo and the lingo of the coffee world will reveal the differences between the two worlds of coffee terminology.


Classic: Plain black coffee that is freshly brewed and less than one hour old. Unless specified otherwise it is served black. In other coffee shops this would simply be a regular, black coffee.

Misto:  This is Starbucks lingo for Café au Lait, drink made of half coffee, half steamed milk and a little bit of foam. It can be altered to include nonfat milk or decaffeinated coffee if desired.

Iced Cappuccino: Iced cappuccinos do not truly exist in Starbucks because they are made without foam. This drink is really an iced latte.

Caramel Macchiato: This famous Starbucks drink is really just another name for a vanilla latte with few extra touches. It contains less vanilla, more foam and caramel syrup that needs to be stirred well before drinking.

COD: This means collect on delivery to most people but to a Starbucks customer or employee it means coffee of the day and is simply the flavor of the day.


Starbucks sizes can be very confusing to the new customer. What sounds like a large is really a small and it just gets more confusing. The sizes are as follows:

Short: At Starbucks a short is the smallest size available but not what is served if a small is asked for when ordering. Short drinks are only available in hot drinks and are 8 oz. in size. In order for a customer to get an 8 oz. drink it must be asked for by name.

Tall: New customers might think that a tall drink is a large drink. However, in Starbucks a tall drink is really a small drink on the menu which is 12 oz.

Grande: While this might sound like a large drink it is really the medium drink on Starbucks menu and is 16 oz.

Venti: A venti drink in Starbucks lingo is either a 20 oz. hot drink or a 24 oz. cold drink. Venti in Italian means twenty which is why Starbucks chose it for this size. It is the largest size on the Starbucks menu.

In the end, Starbucks doesn’t butcher coffee terminology; they simply have created a few exceptions of their own to make their business unique and interesting. There is simply nothing like ordering a skinny, Venti Caramel Macchiato with a double shot.

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