Bigger isn't beter

Starbucks' new Trenta size supports American obesity: The coffee chain should be ashamed

Starbucks' new Trenta size supports American obesity: The coffee chain should be ashamed

Trenta & Big Gulp
Starbucks new Trenta size enters into the Big Gulp universe.
News_Starbucks_logo change_2011
Couldn't Starbucks have stopped at the new logo? Courtesy of Starbucks
Trenta & Big Gulp
News_Starbucks_logo change_2011

It’s only 17 days into 2011, and Starbucks Coffee CEO Howard Schultz and his team in Seattle have been a busy group. Two weeks ago, they unveiled a new logo, and Monday, they unveiled a brand new beverage size. Currently, Starbucks offers three sizes: Tall (354 mL), Grande (473 mL), and Venti (591 mL). And beginning May 3rd, you will be able to get your beverage of choice in a new 916 mL Trenta size.

How big is 916 mL, you ask? Well, an average bottle of wine is 750 mL, and the average capacity of the human stomach is 900 mL. In other words, the Trenta is Starbucks’ version of the Big Gulp.

No, this is not a joke. When a friend sent me this Gizmodo article, I immediately did some research to verify the authenticity of the tall (really tall) drink tale. On the official Starbucks Twitter, I found my answer: “Yes it is true — the Trenta is coming later this year. We're only offering Iced Coffee and Iced Tea in this larger size.”

I haven’t been this disgusted since the last time I saw Ann Coulter’s face on TV. My hypothesis is finally coming true: Starbucks is the new McDonald’s.

In 1971, a couple of Seattle hipsters founded a small coffee store in Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market. They took lessons from Alfred Peet, a coffee guru hailing from The Netherlands. And they focused on a high quality product. Initially, they only offered coffee beans. There were no espresso machines at the original store.

Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982, and inspired by his recent trip to Europe, urged the company to start selling espresso-based beverages. They refused, and Schultz left. A few years later, he bought the company.

Schultz wanted to bring the European coffee house concept to America. He wanted Americans to have a “third place,” where they could go and enjoy high-quality gourmet coffee beverages with friends and family.

Unfortunately, in our capitalistic economy, quality doesn’t matter: the bottom line does. Driven by Schultz’s gargantuan ego, Starbucks started opening locations throughout the country, driving out competitors by saturating the market in a way that had never been done before. As time progressed, the manual espresso machines were replaced with ones that are merely vending machines — all the barista has to do is press a button to extract a shot of espresso.

And now, they have unveiled a drink size larger than a bottle of wine. This hardly fits in with Starbucks’s original goal of bringing the European coffee shop concept to America. In Italy, men in trim gray and navy suits stand in tiny espresso bars, sipping shots of expertly grown and prepared coffee. One of these men wouldn’t be caught dead drinking iced coffee out of a cup that approaches a liter in size.

My vehement opposition to the Trenta is not about my snobbery. It’s about what this symbolizes for America. In a nation where 75 percent of the adult population is overweight or obese, the Trenta is the last thing that is needed. Of course, drinking coffee in such large quantities is bad for the brain and heart alike. But the caffeine is the least of my concerns: I am more worried about the sugar-filled syrupy beverages that Starbucks distributes under the guise of coffee.

I want to like Starbucks, I really do. It’s so convenient, and the benefits they provide to their employees are fantastic.

But the Trenta is my last straw. I refuse to give money to a company that is supporting America’s health problems and rampant consumerism. Bigger is not better.