Starbucks Explains Disappearance Of Tall From Drive-Thru Menus

You might remember last week when a reader wrote in to point out that Tall coffees were no longer being listed on the drive-thru menu at her local Starbucks. Well, some actual journalist in Seattle got someone at Starbucks to explain the vanishing act, which is apparently now happening nationwide.

The Starbucks rep says that the new Tall-less drive-thru menus, which only list Grande and Venti sizes, are just a response to customer demand:

We’d heard from customers that our drive thru menus were cluttered and made it difficult to order. So we redesigned them focusing on making ordering easier by reducing the number of items and adding more product shots. Overall, we reduced the number of items on the menu by about two-thirds – typically going from 75 to 25 items. The items featured are our most popular items, including our most popular sizes – grande and venti. Ordering options are not limited to what’s on the menu, and just as with the short size, drive thru customers may order any item or size of beverage we offer in the store.

The comments on our original story seemed pretty evenly divided between “You can still order a tall so it’s no big deal” and “There is plenty of space for Talls on the menu so this is obviously an attempt to upsell the larger sizes.” So this time we’re asking for more concrete feedback from you in the form of a poll:

Starbucks takes “tall” off drive-through menus, just like “short” disappeared from in-store menus [Seattle Times]

Why Does My Starbucks No Longer Advertise ‘Tall’ Coffees?


Edit Your Comment

  1. sufreak says:

    If you’re new to starbucks, then you won’t really care. This is just whiny people. Go get a real hobby or solve a real issue

    • Conformist138 says:

      Good one, “IF”. There are plenty of us that rarely, if ever, go to Starbucks. “Everyone knows this, so you’re just petty if you don’t” is a sort of tough argument.

      However, I have no room since for me it would be “I like the old menus better at this place I never go to.”

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

  3. Brunette Bookworm says:

    Personally, I find the fact that Starbucks doesn’t have all their items listed on the drive-thru menu annoying. I don’t go there often enough to remember what their entire menu is.

    • jag164 says:

      Hmm… maybe you should park your car and go inside until your familiar with the menu. Too much effort?

      • Michaela says:

        My local Starbucks has only 10 parking spots for the non-handicapped, so parking could be an issue…

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        Thanks for the snarky comment. Yes, that’s what I do but if I’m traveling and want a coffee and maybe a snack sometimes I use the drive-thru. You know, for the convienence it was installed for.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      If you don’t go there often enough to remember what they have, then a) you’re probably going to order one of the more popular items anyway, and b) you’re not really their target market. 90%+ of their sales are to people who go there often enough to not even need the menu.

    • syzygy says:

      It’s not like they’re keeping you from using the full menu. Drive-thru is for convenience, and as such, is not (and I would posit, should not be) always subject to the same service requirements as the dining area. If you want the full menu, the full Starbucks Experience (yay), go inside.

      I voted “sell more of the larger sizes”, because most people will just order those, rather than *gasp* exit their vehicles and *double gasp* walk into the shop. Or perhaps they’ll just ask; that might actually work, too.

    • Scuba Steve says:

      Most people who use the starbucks drive through are already late to their 11 o clock hair appointment and all those choices are just so darn confusing and they already know what they want and wish people would just hurry up and hold on I have to take this call and oh yeah can we hurry up!

      Sorry about that, Starbucks really just wants to sell more Ventis and Grandes.

      Thankfully I will never go to starbucks. Its not a good deal, its not a good experience, and its not worth my time.

    • Scuba Steve says:

      Most people who use the starbucks drive through are already late to their 11 o clock hair appointment and all those choices are just so darn confusing and they already know what they want and wish people would just hurry up and hold on I have to take this call and oh yeah can we hurry up!

      Sorry about that, Starbucks really just wants to sell more Ventis and Grandes.

      Thankfully I will never go to starbucks. Its not a good deal, its not a good experience, and its not worth my time.

  4. smo0 says:

    I’ll have to vouche for the clutter. Since Starbux has introduced more “food” and breakfast items, the menu has been increasing. It does clean up the clutter. Sure they may be a money making tactic but as a daily starbux drinker – WE ORDER THE SAME SIZE EVERY TIME. There is no upsell.

    • nbs2 says:

      In other words, everybody can be right – the goal was to reduce clutter and smalls are their lowest seller, meaning they can make things look better and get most people to buy at least a medium. At least, that’s how I see it.

  5. BStu78 says:

    I think that’s a reasonable explanation. I’ve been in a position to be designing complicated order forms and its not easy. Usually your only option to improve clarity is to reduce the options. Given that here the options are reduced only in display but are still available to purchase, I’d give Starbucks the leeway to design their materials in a way they feel will be most useful. And I do think these menus are attractive and easy to visually navigate. I’m sure they expect people who want Talls will likely ask for clarification and expect that the time spent answering those questions will be offset by speedier ordering by most customers. That’s a bummer if you aren’t most customers, but businesses can’t always market to the lowest common denominator.

  6. Bativac says:

    I have never used a Starbucks drive thru and probably never will, so I will preface my comment by stating that I do not care what Starbucks does. However, this looks to me like a blatant attempt to sell larger sizes by making it appear that small drinks are no longer available.

    (Also I want to make an obligatory comment about how four bucks for a latte sure is expensive.)

  7. Tim says:

    Maybe if they could put a big note saying “Tall sizes also available,” or something along those lines.

  8. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Am I the only person who can never see an actual poll on the posts?
    I’m guessing it has something with our mandatory IE that we have to use here at work

  9. Tim says:

    Also, though I can see where they’re coming from with the clutter, why cut tall? Why not venti?

    Oh, right, because they make more money when people order larger sizes, and they’re counting on people not knowing that there’s a smaller sizer or two.

    • erciesielski says:

      Or maybe they’re telling the truth and it’s just because they dell fewer talls than ventis. No conspiracy here.

  10. knoxblox says:

    When a marketer says they’re working in your best interest, they’re lying. When they say they’re not lying, they have their fingers crossed behind their back.

    • vastrightwing says:

      It’s not about the money = it’s the money
      Unlimited = very limited
      Everything on sale = limited sale
      We take it seriously = we don’t take it seriously
      The customer is first = the customer is last
      We stand behind our quality = once you buy it, you’re on your own
      Free = not really free, you must pay us a lot of money first, then we consider it free.
      Warranty = No warranty: we’ll find a way to justify denying your claim

      • knoxblox says:

        Lovingly hand-crafted = Begrudgingly by severely underpaid Chinese or Guatemalan hands
        We’ll replace it free = With the same equally crappy item
        It will change your life = Especially if you have to spend years in court
        Service after the sale = We’ll help you to the car

  11. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Well, I think I’ve been to Starbucks 3 times ever.
    So if I were going through this drive-thru, I would assume whatever is on the menu is what I can order.
    Why not put up a little side sign or a some text that says, “other sizes available – just ask” ?

  12. winnabago says:

    I never seem to have enough time to look at the menu at a drive through before they start asking what I want (or suggesting what I should get). I’m sure some marketing folks have noticed that the less time you have to review your options, the more you spend. Lately I’ve always asked for a few seconds to read over what I need to and it seems to help.

  13. Arcaeris says:

    I buy the explanation. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that no one orders Tall size, so they took it off the menu. I go to Starbucks all the time with my girlfriend and I very rarely see another person besides me or her order a Tall. I’ve never seen a Short ordered.

    Fat-ass or not fat-ass, 90% of orders I see are Venti.

    • lacklustermusings says:

      I agree. I never see anyone ordering a tall size either. Also, I only order a tall when I am getting black coffee, otherwise I get grande or venti.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      I always order Short now that I know about it. I found out about it about 2 years ago. It really is the perfect size for me, and I actually ordered one yesterday.

  14. outlulz says:

    I don’t understand. Why is it wrong to assume that if an item disappears from the menu then it is no longer offered by the restaurant?

  15. ShruggingGalt says:

    Poll is wrong.

    Where is the : “They had to make room for the nutritional info in accordance with the healthcare law”

  16. Hakib says:

    This is ridiculous. Anyone who believes that Grande and Venti are the most popular sizes is retarded, this is a blatant attempt at consumer obfuscation, and Starbucks should be called out for their lie.

    • ludwigk says:

      Another way to sell more Venti’s is to introduce a “Megaventi” that is even larger.

      Wendy’s keeps the triple burger on the menu despite the fact that they sell an incredibly low number of them. The reason is that it promotes sales of the double. When they dropped the triple burger, double sales plummeted as people instead ordered more singles.

      I would be curious to know what effect removing the bottom end has, as to whether it spurs more grande, or venti sales, or whether it just wastes time while people ask what happened to the “tall”.

  17. crb042 says:

    maybe if they didn’t have 5 different prices for 5 different flavors of what’s essentially the same drink… They need to better categorize things. McD’s doesn’t list Sprite and Coke with individual prices.

  18. WHC999 says:

    Next time I go through the drive through I’ll order the 3 piece chicken dinner…it’s not on the menu…but I’m sure they have it….right?

  19. elangomatt says:

    I for one believe that they are trying to clean up the menu board. I wish other drive throughs would do the same too. I remember McDonald’s used to have a way of displaying only the breakfast menu and then they would do something to change it to their normal lunch/dinner menu. Now, they have everything on the menu board that they ever serve and you can barely even read half of the menu now since they have the text size so small now.,

  20. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Cindy Lou Who: Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why?
    Narrator: But do you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick, that he thought up a lie and he thought it up quick.
    Grinch: Why my sweet little tot…
    Narrator: The fake Santie Claus lied…
    Grinch: …there’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side. So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear. I’ll fix it up there, then I’ll bring it back here.

  21. human_shield says:

    They need to get rid of the Venti. The Venti is a pointless drink because it has the same amount of coffee as a grande. You’re paying a lot more for 4 oz extra milk.

    Related, I went to Starbucks and noticed the menu is streamlined and simplified. Instead of a full menu list, it’s just a few giant photos of several beverages with a couple size options. Are they intentionally trying to reduce options in the drivethru?

    My local pizza hut has also been affected by this menu trend. Instead of a full menu it just has photos with MEDIUM LARGE EXTRA LARGE in ginormous letters, next to a sign that says NEW LOWER PRICES in even bigger letters even though the prices didn’t change :-/

    My theory is they are doing this to speed up the drivethru by limiting selection, prevent people from studying the menu.

    • mrphy42 says:

      That actually depends on what you are ordering. Cappuccino, latte, whatever… those determine the milk to coffee ratio, and has nothing to do with the size of the cup.

    • lacklustermusings says:

      I am pretty sure that a venti latte has more espresso than a grande latte.

      • lacklustermusings says:

        For iced drinks anyway..

        • JasonR says:

          For iced drinks – correct.

          All lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos have:
          1 shot of espresso in a tall
          2 shots in a grande and *hot* venti
          3 shots in an iced venti

          That’s why I order a triple grande caramel macchiato so I get three shots in a 20 Oz hot drink.

  22. dwb says:

    When they say they cut their menu by two-thirds, does that mean they cut the drive-thru menu by 2/3 of the entire menu, or is it there are 2/3 fewer items on the drive-thru menu than there used to be? I’m all for simplification, but they are making it sound like they had to make drastic cuts (and sacrifices) when that may not be the case.
    They don’t hire dummies to make decisions like this, so my bet is they are simply placing the highest profit items on the drive-thru where people are under pressure to order quickly. The “listening to our customers” thing is such a piece of BS. If they listened to their customers that much they wouldn’t be charging so much (#1 complaint: it’s too expensive). I think they should have gone with the “need space for the required nutritional info” that someone suggested. That almost sounds like it’s for our benefit.

  23. smashedpotats says:

    The Tall is too short to fit in the front cup holders on my car. It is a pain, because I always forget :]

  24. widigital says:

    It seems to me that they still should be obligated to show the price of the talls…just sayin’

  25. sumocat says:

    If you need a menu, I don’t want to be behind you at any drive-thru.

  26. sopmodm14 says:

    c’mon, its a great way to market the other sizes, but i think customers get more with them anyway…a cup of 1/2 ice w/ coffee, is still proportional anyway you cup it

    and if mc’d’s and other fast food joints can squeeze their whole menu onto the board, surely starbucks can

  27. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    Damn I was really hoping the answer was “We surveyed 300 people and asked them to come up with a worst way to describe the size of a small coffee and 290 answered Tall, 9 answered large and the other one just wrote “pickles” “.

  28. SaltWater says:


  29. fairbakl says:

    I’ve seen this inside two Starbucks in the Boston area. Grande is now the smallest size, then Venti, then a larger size (I don’t recall the name). Feels like a major upsell.

  30. Big Mama Pain says:

    Dunkin Donuts, I miss you : (

  31. physics2010 says:

    Just to be nit picky, the menu should not consist of their most popular items, the menu should consist of the most popular items ordered via the drive thru. It may be the exact same list, though I’d expect some things are more commonly ordered by the pedestrian traffic who intend to lesisurely loiter.

  32. malibumaniac says:

    It’s not just that their menu favors large sizes, it is also their pricing. An iced venti (24oz) chai latte is $3.95 here in the bay area. Grande is $3.50 (16oz)… Tall probably something like $3.25(12oz). Automatically, you’re gonna think: “Venti is twice as much as tall and around a 1/3 more than grande, but only marginally more expensive… I’ll get the venti!”

  33. ckspores says:

    I’m sure this is just my local Starbucks but the drive thru line is the slowest moving thing I have ever seen.

    I am in favor of anything that gets the people in front of me moving in the morning instead of sitting in front of the speaker going “ummmmm, so maybe I’ll…uummmm” yada yada because they have a gazillion choices. So, if less choices makes them spend more money but also forces them to make a decision I’m all for it.

    I’m a big fan of having some idea of what you want if you plan to use the drive thru. Otherwise, go inside where you can park yourself in front of the menu and take 3 hours to order your perfect beverage. To me, drive thru says “speed” and streamlining the menu and removing items is a positive.

  34. yzerman says:

    How about calling them small, medium and large already..

  35. samonela says:

    “So we redesigned them focusing on making ordering easier by reducing the number of items and adding more product shots”

    Adding more product shots!? What is there to show besides a cup with steam rising out of it??

  36. Ustonz2000 says:

    Meh. I refuse to use their terms. When I do go (not often), I only use the terms small, medium and large. They seem to be able to handle it. Never used one of their drive-throughs.

  37. george69 says:

    never been in one, if i ever do, I refuse to order in BS terms they made up.

  38. Mercurio says:

    The problem with still being able to order a “tall” is that I have never ordered one before. I walk in, ask for a small coffee, and smile. To their credit, the half dozen times that I have been in a Starbucks, the staff has been able to figure out what a small coffee is.

  39. DanKelley98 says:

    Isn’t coffee their primary business? I’ve given up burnt coffee in exchange for a local coffee house….Starbucks is so f*ckin’ overrated by people without a f*ckin’ clue.

  40. Sardis says:

    Who still drinks Starbucks?

  41. tooluser says:

    In their favor: white space is important to graphic design, and having fewer items on the menu will get most people through faster (while also increasing drive-thru sales).

    But of course it’s mostly to sell more of the larger size drinks. The profit margin on a larger drink is larger than for the small drink, because most of the cost is NOT in the drink itself. Almost all of the additional cost to the consumer is profit for the store. But still, the customer gets proportionately more drink for their money — the large drink really is a better deal for the consumer.

    Capitalism at its best — everybody wins.

  42. JadePharaoh says:

    BS. If that picture of the sign is any indication, it would not cause any “clutter” by adding the price of a Tall.

  43. jiubreyn says:

    I went to Starbucks the other day and noticed their menu had changed as well. It DOES look less cluttered, but confused me at first. Fortunately, I always order the same thing: Venti Caramel Mocha. Mmmmm….

  44. Stuph says:

    Putting their whole menu on a drive-through sign is impossible. Also, does anyone actually order a “tall” anything? I never have, and I can’t recall ever seeing anyone else do it either..

  45. Alessar says:

    D) all of the above

  46. Wei says:

    The poll should have been “what size do you usually buy”

  47. pot_roast says:

    Doesn’t affect me. I avoid drive-thru windows like the plague. I’ve had way too many drive-thru orders messed up to even bother.

  48. agold says:

    Your poll forgot TRENTAS


  49. dush says:

    Tall has the least letters so it takes up the least space. Logically they should eliminate grande since that would take up the most room.

  50. joako says:

    Local McDonadls have removed 6pcs chicken nuggets from the menu. The that has the call center in another state taking orders now won’t take orders for 6pcs either.