they are trying to sound italian.
the founders modeled their coffee philosophy after an inspired italian journey. (and later, arguing over the philosophy's specifics, "a great cup for all," or "every cup perfect," split into starbucks and peet's, respectively)
- short (8 oz) is actually a real size, smaller than tall, that's not listed on the menu, but that you can order.
- tall (12 oz) is therefore taller than short.
- grande (16 oz) is supposed to sound italian, and by italian standards, is huge (or grand). italians would probably never drink anything bigger than a short, and the tall size would be pushing it for them.
- venti (20 oz) is also supposed to sound italian, and is italian for "twenty", which is how many ounces a venti has.
(iced venti cups are 24 ounces, for the ice. venti is the only trademarked size name, so it's the only name you won't see other shops legally using. look for the tm next time you're in the store. it's there!)
- a "super venti" (? oz) was test-marketed in texas, but didn't pan out in the rest of the country.
former starbucks supervisor/coffee trainer/barista (6 years) and interested shareholder