Starbucks: Sell Me the Venti Jet Fuel Coffee, You Absolute Cowards

Screenshot: Starbucks

I’m caffeine-dependent—that’s right, you heard me, don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning java! On summer mornings like this one, that means cold brew (not iced coffee—yes, there’s a rather vast distinction, don’t patronize me).

In my quest to find that pure, uncut, jet-black (cold) sludge, I was delighted to discover the latest in cold brew tech from Starbucks: the Nitro Cold Brew. This baby comes out of a tap for reasons I don’t care to understand, is NOT served with ice—which the Midwesterner in me likes, since ice wastes space and therefore value—and settles with a foamy head, like you’re starting the work day off with a cheeky pint of Guinness. But don’t take it from me, take it from the corporation itself:

Our small-batch cold brew—slow-steeped for a super smooth taste—gets even better. We’re infusing it with nitrogen for a naturally sweet flavor and cascading, velvety crema. Perfection is served.

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It is indeed. But today, I made a shocking discovery as I flew too close to the sun: I attempted to order the Nitro Cold Brew in a “venti” size, known to plebeians as a “large” or a “huge-ass coffee-based beverage.” There is no such thing, I was told; the Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew only comes in a size “grande” (mid-sized, for when you got that full seven hours), or “tall” (for literal children, people without office day jobs, or the elderly, I assume). Imagine my horror—here I was thinking I’d cracked the code to maximizing the caffeine-to-cost-to-ice-bullshit calculus my broken brain runs through on mornings when I buy coffee.

Was this a localized problem with my Starbucks location in Brooklyn, or are we faced with a more pressing, global problem? Can no one end less this madness besides a President Howard Schultz? And more importantly: Why is Starbucks apparently intent on infringing on our (my) personal liberty to make my heart beat artificially fast when that bean juice hits? (I’ve reached out to Starbucks’ PR team for clarification on this matter and will update this post if I hear back.)

I set out to investigate this. The dedicated page on Starbucks’ site for the Nitro Cold Brew seemed to reinforce my worst fears: There is nutrition information listed only for a “tall” and “grande” size. (The caffeine content of the “grande,” the one I was suckered into purchasing, is approximately 280mg, per the company.) Not good enough, I say.

As I sucked down that last sip on my morning joe, a massive “16"—likely for the cup’s 16-ounce capacity (473 mL)—mocked me. You win this round, coffee man.

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