Starbucks rolls out the “Trenta”
So Starbucks, where I hold a well-used and registered card, is rolling out the new 31-oz. Trenta. It’s exclusively served as an iced beverage and that’s a good thing because it means I’ll be able to avoid it completely. I’ve learned my lesson on these things and I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, why does Starbucks shun such simple terms as small-medium-large-jumbo in favor of essentially meaningless names for their sizes. Really, a “tall” is one of the shortest drinks they serve. Then we have “grande” and “Venti” and now, “Trenta.” (Just in case you’re curious, our crack research team informs us that Trenta is a comune in the province of Cosenza, Italy. They’ve probably never thought much about 31-oz. iced drinks from Starbucks there, but it doesn’t really matter. I mean, General Tso’s chicken is served on all the Chinese buffets in these parts and it’s essentially unheard of in China. It’s believed to have been invented in New York City in the 1970s.)
Seriously, I don’t pretend to tell people who have moved as much coffee as Starbucks — and at the princely sums that they do — how to pursue their business. I love the place and we even made a pilgrimage to the original Starbucks in Seattle just to say we did it.
Besides, there is a lot to naming things. If you want to get $4-plus for a cup of coffee from people, you have to convince them that it’s something different than the swill they can drink on a complimentary basis in various daily settings or for very cheap at home. Think about this: if Frank Zamboni’s name had been Bob Smith, do you think his company would have owned the term for the machine that resurfaces the hockey rink between periods? Absolutely not. It would be an ice resurfacer or something equally boring and generic. John Deere, International Harvester, Ford, Arctic Cat and everyone else would have entered the market. But it’s a ZAMBONI! Everything else is just an imitation. Zamboni!
Anyway, a number of years back when Mike Kasper had Something’s Brewing in the location now occupied by Allister Deacon’s in downtown Wausau, Mike was telling me about a coffee drink that he called a “buzzer.” You could get it with four or six shots of espresso. Like everything else Mike told me, I listened carefully while trying not to act too interested. So the next day, I went back to the coffee shop when Mike wasn’t there and confidently told the tall, trim, blonde barista that I wanted a six-shot buzzer (half-wondering if it was something Mike thought up himself, but wasn’t really something that the rest of the staff would even recognize.)
The impressive barista sized me up for a second or two and then responded. “You can’t have one. I’ll give you a 4-shot and that’s it.” Since she was obviously in control and taller than me anyway, I consented and left with the best she had to offer me, although I found the whole exchange a little strange, in an interesting sort of way. A few days later I came back and there was a different barista. I gave it another shot and in minutes, I was leaving with my six-shot buzzer. It was nice dealing with someone who had no moral qualms about such things.
Well, about 45 minutes later, I was three-quarters of the way through my drink and my fingers began to shake. I could feel my heart racing. Beads of cold sweat were spontaneously appearing on my forehead. This six-shot buzzer was becoming a problem and I dumped the rest of it out, retiring to my office to learn whether I could come down from this caffeine overload unaided or if I would need some kind of medical attention. Happily, I survived without blowing a gasket and I NEVER ordered anything with more than three shots after that. And as for the Trenta, they can call it anything they want. I’m not getting one anyway. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a buzzer.