From the mid-1980s into the late 90s the Starbucks drink menu had three sizes: Short, Tall and Grande. Short and Tall being english words standing for small and medium and “Grande” being Italian for large or big. (Howard Schultz’s naming of drinks and sizes was influenced by a trip to Italy in the early 1980s.) The Short was 8 oz, Tall 12 oz and Grande 16 oz.
Over time, there was a perceived demand for larger coffee sizes and the “Venti” was born. Venti is Italian for “twenty” and a Venti hot coffee at Starbucks is 20 oz. Size considerations on the menu board led to Starbucks dropping the Short size from the menu (i.e. four columns of prices was too busy). Supposedly, you can still order a Short – its just not listed on the menu board.
So, a Tall is a medium, a Grande is a large and Venti is a very large. The small-sized Short is available, just not on the menu. In addition to Grande and Venti, other Italian name influences are found in the drinks Latte, Macchiato, cafe Misto, Doppio, espresso con panna, and the super-sized Trenta, among others.
I order a short.. love that size!
An additional perspective on the matter: