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From the outside, Starbucks appears to be a realm of Grande Cappuccinos, Venti Lattes, and Tall Americanos. A bustling cafe chain with baristas masterfully crafting complex beverages and calling out sizes that sound foreign yet intriguing to the uninitiated. But hidden amidst these commonly known sizes, there’s a less-recognized, yet equally noteworthy option: the ‘short cup’. The short cup at Starbucks has always been somewhat of an enigma, an unsung hero that gracefully hides in plain sight. It’s time we shine a spotlight on this modest size.

In our quest to explore coffee culture, we often overlook the simplicity and elegance of smaller servings. Starbucks’ short cup is the embodiment of this understated elegance, offering just the right amount of your favorite beverage. The short cup may not be the star of the menu board, nor the most Instagrammable option, but it carries a rich history, an undeniable charm, and an invitation to savor coffee without overindulgence.

So, why don’t we hear more about the short cup at Starbucks? Why is it not a part of the flashy size lineup displayed at each store? In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mystery that surrounds the Starbucks short cup, venturing into its origin, comparing it with other Starbucks sizes, investigating which drinks you can order in this size, and much more. This is your one-stop guide to mastering the art of the Starbucks short cup, and by the end of it, you might just find your new go-to order!

Starbucks Short Cup: Key Takeaway

  • Origin and Evolution: The Starbucks short, an 8-ounce size option, is often overlooked by customers. Despite its quiet presence, it holds an intriguing history, from its initial conception to its gradual phasing out from the standard menu.
  • Comparative Analysis: The short cup can offer a stronger, more espresso-focused drink compared to its larger counterparts (Tall, Grande, Venti), due to a higher coffee-to-milk ratio.
  • Drink Availability: Most Starbucks drinks can be served in a short cup. The size is ideal for espresso-based beverages and often gives a richer flavor to Starbucks’ signature drinks. It also frequently hosts limited-edition offerings.
  • Cultural Impact: The short cup has quietly made a cultural impact, appearing in pop culture, becoming a coveted item for collectors, and presenting an environmentally friendly option due to its smaller size.
  • Ordering a Short Cup: Despite not being listed on the standard menu, customers can order any Starbucks drink in a short cup. It is generally cheaper than larger sizes, and the size is perfect for trying new drinks or for a quick coffee break.

The Origin of the Starbucks Short Cup

Our journey begins in the early years of Starbucks, back when the iconic mermaid logo was first making its mark in the world of coffee lovers. Let’s dive into the conception of the short size at Starbucks and trace its intriguing journey.

The Initial Concept: How Did the Short Cup Come to Be?

The story of the short size at Starbucks harks back to 1971 when the company was still a fledgling coffee shop in Seattle. (1)  At this time, Starbucks offered its beverages in three sizes: short, tall, and grande. As a matter of fact, the short Starbucks cup was not an afterthought but one of the original sizes!

a starbucks short cup

The short cup was designed to hold espresso-based drinks, focusing on delivering a concentrated, flavorful cup of coffee. It was perfect for those who wanted to savor the richness of Starbucks coffee without committing to a larger size.

As Starbucks expanded and the coffee culture evolved, the company renamed the larger sizes to stimulate customer attention. The 16-ounce Grande (Italian for ‘large’) and the 20-ounce Venti (Italian for ‘twenty’) came into play, nudging the short cup to the side.

a couple holding starbucks in berlin

The transition was also influenced by the popular ‘bigger is better’ consumer mindset. Over time, the Starbucks short size was phased off the menu boards to make room for the larger, more popular sizes. However, despite its absence from the official menu, the short cup continues to exist, silently serving those who prefer a smaller, more concentrated dose of their favorite Starbucks brew.

In the next sections, we will explore how the short cup compares to its larger counterparts, uncovering its unique attributes and potential advantages. Stay tuned as we continue our journey into the fascinating world of Starbucks’ unsung hero – the short cup.

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Understanding Starbucks Cup Sizes: Short Versus the Rest

Understanding the cup sizes at Starbucks can feel a bit like learning a new language, especially with terms like Tall, Grande, and Venti thrown into the mix. But don’t worry, we’re here to translate and compare these sizes with the underappreciated short cup. So let’s embark on this journey of demystifying the Starbucks short size.

Short Cup Vs. Tall: A Comparative Analysis

As discussed earlier, the short size cup at Starbucks holds 8 ounces of beverage. On the other hand, a Tall cup at Starbucks, which is the smallest size advertised on their menu, holds 12 ounces. This four-ounce difference can significantly impact the intensity of your drink.

a Starbucks short and medium next to a croissant

For example, let’s consider an espresso-based drink like a latte. In a short cup, the ratio of espresso to milk is higher, leading to a stronger coffee flavor. Conversely, in a Tall cup, there is more milk, which might lead to a more diluted taste. So if you’re looking for a stronger, more robust flavor, the short Starbucks cup may be your ideal choice.

Short Cup Vs. Grande: The Perfect Size for Your Coffee?

Next up is the Grande, a 16-ounce serving that seems to be the favorite of many Starbucks customers. Comparing this with the 8-ounce Starbucks short cup, you might notice that the beverage in a Grande cup is twice the volume of the short.

two people holding their starbucks during fall season

Again, the larger the cup size, the more milk, and water it contains, which might potentially dilute the coffee flavor. The short size can be seen as more coffee-focused, emphasizing the essence of the espresso, whereas the Grande offers a more balanced blend of coffee and milk.

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Short Cup Vs. Venti: Does Size Always Matter?

Finally, we have the Venti, the 20-ounce giant of the Starbucks world. If you need a caffeine fix or want a leisurely sip over a long conversation, a Venti might be your go-to. But does a larger size always mean better?

a venti starbucks on a desk

A Venti contains over twice the volume of a short Starbucks cup. This means that the beverage in a Venti cup might be less intense in flavor due to the higher milk-to-espresso ratio. If you’re a fan of stronger, richer coffee, the short cup might just be the hidden gem you’ve been seeking.

As you can see, the short cup holds its own against the larger sizes. Its unique qualities make it worth considering, especially if you’re a lover of intense, espresso-forward beverages. Keep reading as we delve deeper into the world of the Starbucks short cup!

What Drinks are Available in the Starbucks Short Cup?

So now that we’ve discussed the origins and the comparative advantages of the short cup, you might be wondering: what drinks can I actually order in a short Starbucks cup? Read on to discover the broad range of beverages that you can enjoy in this modest yet versatile size.

The Perfect Espresso: Is Short the New Standard?

Traditionally, espressos have been served in smaller quantities due to their concentrated nature and intense flavor. This makes the short size at Starbucks an ideal choice for espresso-based beverages.

You can order a solo or doppio espresso to savor the rich, robust coffee flavor. Even for espresso-based drinks like Cappuccinos the short cup ensures a perfect balance of espresso and other ingredients, creating a punchy, flavor-packed beverage that true coffee aficionados will appreciate.

The Short Cup and Starbucks’ Signature Drinks

Can you enjoy your favorite Starbucks signature drink in a short cup? Absolutely! From the classic Caramel Macchiato to the indulgent White Chocolate Mocha, you can order most Starbucks drinks in a short size.

Starbucks signature drinks

In fact, some may argue that these drinks taste even better in a short cup due to the higher coffee-to-milk ratio. The next time you’re at Starbucks, why not give your favorite beverage a try in a short cup? You might be pleasantly surprised!

The Rise of the ‘Short’ Specialty: Limited Edition Offerings

Occasionally, Starbucks releases limited-edition beverages that are designed to be enjoyed in a short cup. These drinks are typically rich, indulgent, and strongly coffee-focused, making the short Starbucks cup their perfect companion.

couple with starbucks short cups at a carnival

From unique espresso creations to seasonal specials, these offerings give customers the chance to experience something new while appreciating the distinct advantages of the short cup. Keep an eye out for these exclusive treats on your next Starbucks visit!

In our next section, we will delve into the cultural impact of the short cup and explore how it has found its unique place in popular culture. Let’s continue our journey into the captivating world of the Starbucks short cup!


The Cultural Impact of Starbucks’ Short Cup

When you think of Starbucks’ influence on culture, the first things that come to mind might be their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, their Green Mermaid logo, or perhaps their unique lingo for sizes. However, the short cup at Starbucks has also quietly made its own cultural imprint, despite its modest size. Let’s uncover how this unsung hero has permeated pop culture, captivated collectors, and even contributed to environmental conservation.

The Short Cup in Pop Culture: Cameos and References

Despite its under-the-radar status, the short Starbucks cup has made its fair share of appearances in popular culture. This lesser-known size has been spotted in the hands of celebrities, featured in movies and TV shows.

fashionable people with starbucks
Source: Getty Images

Often, it is used as a subtle nod to true coffee enthusiasts who prefer a more concentrated, flavorful brew. In this way, the short cup serves as a symbol of coffee connoisseurship, representing a commitment to quality over quantity, which resonates deeply with true java junkies.

The Short Cup as a Collector’s Item: A Coveted Treasure

Did you know that Starbucks short cups are a popular collector’s item? Starbucks regularly releases limited-edition short cups featuring unique designs, seasonal themes, or collaborations with artists. These cups quickly become coveted treasures for collectors, adding a layer of exclusivity to the short size at Starbucks.

starbucks collector cups

What makes these collectible short cups so desirable is their rarity and the unique artistry they often exhibit. They represent a piece of Starbucks’ history and culture that fans around the world love to cherish.

The Short Cup: An Environmentally Friendly Choice?

In an age where sustainability is becoming increasingly important, the Starbucks short may also present an environmentally friendly option. By choosing a smaller size, consumers can reduce waste from excess coffee and packaging.

starbucks short

While this may seem like a small step, imagine the impact if a significant number of the billions of Starbucks customers around the world made the switch to a short cup. Every little bit counts when it comes to conserving our planet’s resources!

Stay tuned as we continue to explore the fascinating world of the Starbucks short cup. Up next, we’ll be addressing some of your most burning questions about this intriguing size option.

Beyond the Counter: How to Order a Short Size at Starbucks

At this point, you might be wondering how you can get your hands on a short Starbucks drink. After all, it’s not listed on the standard menu board. But don’t worry, ordering a short cup is not as mysterious as it might seem. Here, we’ll walk you through the process, discuss pricing, and share some tips to ensure you get the most out of your short Starbucks experience.

The “Secret Menu”: How to Ask for a Short Cup?

First things first, despite its absence from the official menu, you can still order a short cup at any Starbucks store. It’s part of what many refer to as the “Starbucks Secret Menu.”

So, how exactly do you order it? It’s quite simple. All you need to do is ask. When placing your order, simply specify that you’d like your drink in a short cup. However, you should note that not every drink can be served in this cup size. The baristas will know what you’re talking about. They are trained to make drinks in all sizes, including the short.

Price Comparison: How Much Does a Short Cup Cost?

One of the perks of opting for a short Starbucks drink is the price. Given its smaller size, the short cup is usually cheaper than its taller counterparts. This could be a great advantage if you’re on a budget but still crave the Starbucks experience.

couple holding their starbucks cups

However, it’s important to note that prices can vary depending on the specific beverage and the location of the store. But in general, you can expect to save a bit when you go for the short cup.

Pro Tips: Making the Most of Your Short Cup Order

Finally, here are a few pro tips to enhance your short Starbucks experience:

  1. Ask for customizations: Even with a short cup, you can still customize your drink to your liking. Want an extra shot of espresso or a dash of your favorite syrup? Go for it!
  2. Enjoy it in-store: The short cup is perfect for a quick, sit-down coffee break. Take a moment to savor your beverage in the store for the full Starbucks experience.

So there you have it! Now you’re ready to confidently order a short Starbucks drink like a pro. Up next, we’ll tackle some common questions about the short cup, so stick around!


The Starbucks Short Cup: it’s compact, unassuming, and often overlooked, but this humble size option has more to offer than meets the eye. From its origins in the early days of Starbucks to its impact on popular culture, to its role as a collector’s item and symbol of environmental mindfulness, the short cup at Starbucks carries a fascinating history and unique appeal.

Despite being overshadowed by its larger counterparts, the short cup shines in its ability to deliver robust, espresso-forward flavors. It might just be the unsung hero of the Starbucks menu. Whether you’re a fan of strong coffee, a collector of limited-edition cups, or simply a conscious consumer aiming to reduce waste, the short cup is a choice worth considering.

The next time you find yourself in a Starbucks line, we encourage you to try ordering your favorite beverage in a short cup. Explore the flavors, enjoy the savings, and experience the charm of this less-known yet impressive option. You never know, the Starbucks short cup might just become your new favorite coffee companion!

And with that, we conclude our deep dive into the world of the Starbucks short cup. We hope this article has been enlightening and encourages you to explore and appreciate the small but mighty short cup on your next Starbucks visit.


Yes, the short cup is generally a more cost-effective choice. It is cheaper than its larger counterparts, making it a budget-friendly option for Starbucks customers.

The price for a short cup at Starbucks can vary depending on the specific beverage and the location of the store. However, it's generally cheaper than the larger sizes, making it a more budget-friendly option. For the exact price, it's best to check at your local Starbucks store.

Drinks served in a short cup tend to have a stronger, more espresso-forward flavor due to the higher coffee-to-milk ratio, delivering a richer taste profile.

Choosing a short cup can be more environmentally friendly as it reduces waste from both excess coffee and packaging. It's a small step towards more sustainable coffee consumption.

Taste can be subjective, but many coffee enthusiasts prefer the taste of espresso-based beverages in a short cup due to the higher coffee-to-milk ratio, which results in a more intense, robust flavor.

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