“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).
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!”
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.