Going Short at Starbucks: Worth It?

By Joann Hong on 17 June 2007 16 comments
Photo: sbcab

News about the "secret" Starbucks short cup is now over a year old, but people still don't believe me when I tell them about this little treasure.

For those who may not have heard yet, the 12 oz. tall cup at Starbucks isn't actually their smallest size. Starbucks has an unadvertised 8 oz. cup, otherwise known as the short, which supposedly works better with certain drinks. Baristas say they've known about it forever, but it really wasn't after this Slate piece that forums abounded with chatter on this subject.

People say different things about why Starbucks doesn't advertise this smaller size. Some Starbucks workers on this forum say it's because America is now XL, and the short cup was squeezed out of the menu for the more popular, bigger venti cup. Starbucks says it's because they just don't have room on their menu.

The short cup doesn't cost remarkably less than the tall (about thirty cents less), but there are different reasons why this smaller size may work for you.

If you're anything like me you like to stick to the simple stuff that gets the trick done. A tall cup of straight coffee from Starbucks is much too strong for me and gives me the shakes. If you're sensitive to caffeine the short cup can give you the boost you need without making you feel cracked out. Also with portions so big nowadays it just feels good to finish something for once. Why pay for something you're going to end up wasting half of anyway?

And if you think this size may not be potent enough, think again. According to the Energy Fiend website the short cup of plain coffee packs in more caffeine than all those horrible tasting energy drinks! Want proof? Click here . It takes way more cans of Monster energy drink than Starbucks short cups to kill you from caffeine overdose.

But the best bit of advice can be learned from the Olsen twins. Did you ever notice how they are always carrying around the hugest cups from Starbucks? Lesson to be learned: too much caffeine isn't good for you! Short jokes aside, trust me, sometimes less can be a lot more.

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16 discussions

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Guest's picture

Although as a Seattle resident I've known about "short" for years, I've been at plenty of Starbucks where the barista claims not to have any 8 oz cups.

Guest's picture

Hm, that barista is lying!! ;-) I was skeptical at first but even over here in London I have no problem finding them. But I have to say that it makes me go to Starbucks a lot more since I find their coffee way too strong. I feel really happy when i have my small cup.

Guest's picture

Well, if they tell you that, you can say "Oh, that's fine, give me my 'short' amount of coffee in a 'tall' cup, I don't mind" and then smile really sweetly and innocently. And if they say no, ask to see the manager.

Guest's picture

i'm going to ask for a short the next time i go into a starbucks... kinda thinking they are going to tell me they have no such thing or they are out of cups... we shall see

Guest's picture

I always order the short cups. I just can't stand too much coffee in the morning, but I love the taste.

Guest's picture

I agree that their coffee is really, really potent. I had gotten into the habit of ordering half regular, half decaf, which always took longer to make. Thanks for this great tip! Who knew?

Guest's picture

I don't understand how or why it would take longer to pour considering that it comes out of a 1 gallon urn. There is no "making" involved in pouring a half-caf`.

Guest's picture

In Europe, if you ask for a coffee you get an expresso in a cup with about the size of a shot glass. Maybe smaller.

And if done right, like in Portugal, that little cup can have the same ammount of caffeine as a regular glass of the stuff. :)

Guest's picture

Thought you'd want to know that this post is popping up as new every hour or two on bloglines.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Thanks Zoom.  I will keep track of this post with my reader and see if I get the same thing.

Guest's picture

Starbucks is for people with too much money.

Guest's picture

As a Starbucks barista i shall now tell you the real secret as to why we at Starbucks do not let the world know about the "secret" short cup... It is a complete waste of money. yes it's nice and stronger but its like 15p less than the tall, and for 15p more I'd rather have a longer lasting coffee.

I myself am a big fan of the lil short cup, but i get it free! I'd never waste my money on it!
oh and we make no secret that the short exists we constantly recomend it to people, infact, it's a popular size. Venti isn't so popular in the U.K.

Guest's picture

...oh and we would never say no to a customer! thats just rude!
Starbucks may be a big dirty money grabbing corporation but employees are decent people! Infact we go out of our way for our customers

Guest's picture

It's definitely not a secret! I work at starbucks and people order tham all the time and wee use them for kids drinks like hot chocolate...

Guest's picture


Guest's picture

I went to the Starbucks at the Radison Hotel in Winnipeg this morning and ordered a short dark. They charged me the same as a Tall Bold. Why?