Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Size DOES Matter

When it comes to sizes of things, this country was practically founded on the premise of small, medium, and large.

We have small (Rhode Island), medium (Michigan) and large (Texas) states. We have small (villages), medium (towns), and large (cities) municipalities. We have small (ponds), medium (rivers/lakes), and large (oceans) bodies of water. We even have small (jockeys), medium (baseball players), and large (sumo wrestlers) human beings.

That perfectly efficient way of designating sizes bleeds into our clothes and our foodstuffs.

You just can't beat small, medium, and large. They're about as American as it gets.

So who do those coffee people think they are?

I'm cranky with the coffee folks, and not just because they charge $4.79 for a cup of fancy-shmancy joe.

The coffee people, with the delicious exception of Caribou Coffee, insist on ramming very un-American like sizes down our throats---literally.

Tall, grande, and venti is the coffee shop's small, medium, and large.

WHY??

In every other joint in this country---from the greasy spoon diner to the five-star restaurant---the beverages are sold using the tried and true S, M, L system.

Some places eschew medium, or small. That's fine. Having two sizes instead of three is OK by me.

But this tall, grande, and venti stuff is for the birds.

And worse, the word they use for small sounds like it would be the large version---"tall."

When I hear tall, I don't think small. Call me crazy!

Yet tall is small in the world of overpriced coffee.

Maybe that's how they do it in the tony coffee shops in Europe; I don't know. But this is America and we speak small, medium, and large---in just about everything.

Starbucks is a place I won't patronize, and it's not just because of the size name issue.

When this lousy economy began affecting the coffee houses, Starbucks had a golden opportunity to seize the moment and do a couple of things.

For example, they could have temporarily reduced prices or began offering real specials. It would have been a marketer's dream: make your competition look bad by boldly announcing price breaks until the economy gets back on its feet.

What's the markup on a cup of brew, anyway?


Oh, shut up and get over yourselves!


Yet Starbucks didn't do that, of course. Instead, they closed locations and laid off a gazillion workers.

Bastards.

Heaven forbid they knock 75 cents off the price of a "tall" drink.

I mentioned Caribou Coffee, and they won me over a couple months ago. We stopped at their Royal Oak location after a day in downtown Detroit. It was chilly and rainy and a perfect day for a hot beverage.

I tensed as soon as I walked in, because I can never get those damn coffee sizes right and I was sure Caribou used that oddball system of sizing.

Yet there those three magical words were on the menu hanging behind the workers: small, medium, and large.

Caribou Coffee is my new most favorite coffee joint.

I'd have given them the shirt off my back if it wasn't so cold.

I wear size extra venti, by the way.

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