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Grande vs. Tall — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Urooj Arif — Updated on March 20, 2024
In the context of coffee shop beverage sizes, "grande" refers to a medium size, typically around 16 ounces, while "tall" is considered a small size, usually about 12 ounces, showcasing the coffee industry's unique sizing terminology.
Grande vs. Tall — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Grande and Tall

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Key Differences

The terminology for coffee sizes can be somewhat counterintuitive, especially for those not familiar with it. "Grande," which might logically seem to imply a larger size due to its meaning in Italian and Spanish as "large," is actually the medium option in many coffee shops. On the other hand, "tall" suggests height and might be perceived as implying a larger size, but it is in fact the name for the smaller size option, typically just above the smallest size available, which is often labeled as "short."
The naming convention, where "tall" is smaller than "grande," originates from the desire to create a unique and memorable customer experience, distinguishing these coffee sizes from the standard small, medium, and large nomenclature. This system allows for a broader range of sizes and gives the coffee shop a more distinctive, branded approach to serving sizes.
While "grande" serves as a middle ground, offering a satisfying amount of beverage for the average customer, "tall" caters to those who prefer a slightly smaller portion, which might be ideal for trying new flavors without committing to a larger quantity or for those who simply want less of a caffeine intake. The choice between a "tall" and a "grande" size often depends on the individual's preference for beverage quantity, caffeine content, and the intended duration of enjoyment.
Despite the potential for confusion, these terms have become ingrained in coffee culture, with many consumers quickly learning and adapting to this unique sizing language. The widespread adoption of these terms across various coffee chains underscores their effectiveness in creating a standardized, yet unique, system of measurement that resonates with coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

Comparison Chart

Size (oz)

~16 ounces
~12 ounces
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Relative Size

Medium
Small

Context

Coffee shop beverage sizes
Coffee shop beverage sizes

Consumer Perception

Satisfying, average portion
Smaller, less caffeine

Purpose

Ideal for regular coffee drinkers
Good for trying new flavors

Compare with Definitions

Grande

Around 16 ounces.
A grande coffee provides a sufficient caffeine boost.

Tall

About 12 ounces.
Tall sizes are perfect for a quick caffeine fix.

Grande

Medium size in coffee shops.
I'll have a grande latte, please.

Tall

Less caffeine.
Choose a tall if you're watching your caffeine intake.

Grande

Not the largest size.
Despite its name, grande is not the biggest option available.

Tall

Small size in coffee shops.
A tall espresso to start the morning.

Grande

Popular choice.
Grande sizes are popular for their balanced portion.

Tall

Larger than "short".
The tall is bigger than the smallest size but still modest.

Grande

Mid-range option.
Opting for a grande when you need just the right amount of coffee.

Tall

For trying new drinks.
Order a tall when experimenting with new coffee flavors.

Grande

Of a cup of coffee: smaller than venti but larger than tall, usually 16 ounces (~ 455 ml).

Tall

Of great or more than average height, especially (with reference to an object) relative to width
A tall, broad-shouldered man
A tall glass of iced tea

Grande

Alternative form of grand

Tall

Having greater than ordinary height
A tall woman.

Tall

Having considerable height, especially in relation to width; lofty
Tall trees.

Tall

Having a specified height
A plant three feet tall.

Tall

(Informal) Fanciful or exaggerated; boastful
Tall tales of heroic exploits.

Tall

Impressively great or difficult
A tall order to fill.

Tall

(Obsolete) Excellent; fine.

Tall

With proud bearing; straight
Stand tall.

Tall

(of a person) Having a vertical extent greater than the average. For example, somebody with a height of over 6 feet would generally be considered to be tall.
Being tall is an advantage in basketball.

Tall

(of a building, etc.) Having its top a long way up; having a great vertical (and often greater than horizontal) extent; high.

Tall

(of a story) Hard to believe, such as a tall story or a tall tale.

Tall

Smaller than grande, usually 8 ounces (~ 230 ml).

Tall

(obsolete) Obsequious; obedient.

Tall

(obsolete) Seemly; suitable; fitting, becoming, comely; attractive, handsome.

Tall

(obsolete) Bold; brave; courageous; valiant.

Tall

(archaic) Fine; proper; admirable; great; excellent.

Tall

Someone or something that is tall.

Tall

A clothing size for taller people.
Do you have this in a tall?

Tall

A tall serving of a drink, especially one from Starbucks, which contains 12 ounces.

Tall

High in stature; having a considerable, or an unusual, extension upward; long and comparatively slender; having the diameter or lateral extent small in proportion to the height; as, a tall person, tree, or mast.
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall.

Tall

Brave; bold; courageous.
As tall a trenchermanAs e'er demolished a pye fortification.
His companions, being almost in despair of victory, were suddenly recomforted by Sir William Stanley, which came to succors with three thousand tall men.

Tall

Fine; splendid; excellent; also, extravagant; excessive.

Tall

Great in vertical dimension; high in stature;
Tall people
Tall buildings
Tall trees
Tall ships

Tall

Lofty in style;
He engages in so much tall talk, one never really realizes what he is saying

Tall

Impressively difficult;
A tall order

Tall

Too improbable to admit of belief;
A tall story

Common Curiosities

Are these terms used universally across all coffee shops?

While widely adopted, especially by major chains, not all coffee shops use this exact terminology for their sizes.

Can you get more caffeine in a grande than a tall?

Yes, typically, a grande size will contain more caffeine due to its larger volume.

What is the size below "tall"?

The smallest size is often called "short," though availability and naming can vary by location.

Is a grande size considered large?

No, grande is the medium size option in the context of coffee shop beverage sizes.

Why is the smaller size called "tall"?

The term "tall" is part of a unique sizing language designed to make the coffee shop experience distinctive and memorable.

Why would someone choose a tall over a grande?

Preferences for a tall size might include desires for less beverage, less caffeine, or trying a new flavor without committing to a larger size.

How do customers react to these unique size names?

While there might be initial confusion, many consumers quickly adapt to and embrace this distinctive sizing system.

How did this sizing terminology originate?

It developed as part of coffee chains’ efforts to create a branded and unique customer experience.

Can I order sizes other than tall or grande?

Yes, most coffee shops offer a range of sizes, including larger options like "venti."

Is there a price difference between tall and grande?

Typically, yes, with grande sizes costing more due to the larger amount of beverage.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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