The Logical Philosopher

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to get 12 oz of free Starbucks

“May I have a cup of coffee?”

“Certainly!” the barista said with her espresso induced smile. “What size would you like?” She was perky. Too perky. I suspected it was because working at Starbucks and mainlining espresso had made her a morning person, and afternoon person and an evening person - all in the same day.

“Just a cup, I am baking and need a cup for a recipe.”

“Oh, so is that Tall, Grande or Venti? ”

“Which one is a cup? ”

“They all are, which size do you need? ”

“I need a cup, you know like a measurement of a cup” I patiently explained. I was making chocolate chip espresso ice-cream, and was in need of a measured cup of coffee to mix in with the milk.

“Oh, I’m not sure we have that size, just let me check. ” she said, as she leaned around the corner and called out to her co-worker. “Hey Page, this customer needs a cup of coffee for a recipe, which size is that? ”

Her co-worker came out of the back and, after looking thoughtful, turned and asked me “What size of cup did the recipe call for? A Tall, Grande or Venti? ”

What size of cup? I thought, there is only 1 size of cup, and it is a cup! That’s like asking me what weight of one pound did I want the bulk food in.

“Err, excuse me? ” I said, shaking my head. “Ahh, a cup is a cup. You know, a measurement of a cup. ”

Sensing the need for solidarity the first barista chimed in. “Yeah, you can’t just ask for a cup without knowing the size! ”

Now to be fair, I wasn’t sure the size of a cup, in ounces, it was either 8 or 12, I just couldn’t recall at that exact moment. However, I did know enough to realize that things in this world are actually measured in imperial and metric, and not as what the Starbucks branding manual says they are. For all that they knew, I could have been asking for 3840 minims of coffee. That would have really thrown them. The probably would have started to make 3840 cups (the Grande kind).

I stood there, looking at them with a blank expression, wondering how the future of our society was going to start to measure things in relation to brands. I could just envision filling up my car 20 years from now. Excuse me, can you put 5 Big-Gulps of gas in my car for me?

Finally, one barista broke the silence. “How about we just give you a Venti for the price of a Tall. That way if you have too much it won’t matter!”
Arriving home I proceeded to mix up my batch of ice-cream. With copious amounts of coffee left over I looked up the size of my volumes. For the record a Venti = 20 ounces, and 1 cup = 8 ounces. That means in Starbucks terms, a cup of coffee is a Short cup of coffee, and I got a free 12 ounces!

From this experience I think I discovered
the secret Starbucks Training Motto:
If you don't know what the customer wants, throw the offer of free coffee at them.

Mental note: next time I make chocolate chip espresso ice-cream, don’t snack on chocolate covered coffee beans, then have a bowl of the ice-cream at 10 o’clock at night. I was up until 3am with my body shaking from the caffeine intake. At least it gave me time to write this post...