Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


I really admire Starbucks' business.

It has to serve customers who are barely awake, who don't often know what they want to eat, who can hardly ever get their phones to work first time as they try to flash them in front of the sensor, and who still struggle with pronouncing "venti."

In essence, Starbucks is less a breakfast establishment and more a shrink-substitute.

It's odd, then, that the company is being accused of the equivalent of the psychologist's 48-minute one-hour session.

A lawsuit insists that the company's supposedly 16-ounce lattes are sometimes a mere 12 ounces.

And now the Today Show has tested this hypothesis and found evidence that suggests some cups can be 25 percent underfilled.

Naturally, Starbucks has explained that tests done by the Today Show's investigative team weren't scientific.

But when did science ever enter the coffee-purchasing realm?

And when, pray, did anyone waft up to their barista and mutter: "I'd like a 16-oz latte, please."?

I always struggle when I see a weight or size specified in an eating establishment.

Never mind a 16-ounce latte, what about a 16-ounce steak? Do you ever weigh it in a restaurant, or do you think you know a pound of steak when you see one?

You'll likely tell me it's the principle. This is understandable. 16 ounces should always be 16 ounces.

And I admit that sometimes when I go to Starbucks, my non-fat latte seems lighter than other times.

But this is the company that tries to make you believe that small is tall.

This is the company that tells you that medium is so very grande.

This is the company that insists its venti is 24 ounces, when "venti" is Italian for "twenty."

I'm not even sure anyone can count at Starbucks.

Is it so wrong to see all this as marketing? Isn't it ultimately about whether the customer is satisfied with their purchase or not? Isn't this merely, just like Donald Trump's hands, a matter of perception?

In any case, Starbucks says that if you're not happy with your drink, you can just ask for the barista to make it again. And they do. I've seen this happen.

I hate to mention it, but isn't the far more outrageous thing how much we're prepared to pay for a coffee in a paper cup?

A grande latte costs almost $4.

Somehow, whether it's 12 ounces or 16, millions of people seem to think that's worth it.

I haven't noticed lines of Starbucks' customers emitting 16 ounces of fire from their mouths, singeing their baristas' eyebrows as they insist they've been under-fulfilled.

Perhaps now they will.  

Perhaps the lawyers will enjoy the discussions. I imagine that Starbucks has remarkably venti lawyers.

Perhaps scientists will be brought in -- I hear the New England Patriots know some excellent ones.

Meanwhile, millions will carry on staggering into Starbucks, dutifully standing in absurdly long lines to pay a lot of money for a coffee and, if they're especially hung over, a Bacon Gouda sandwich.

Anyone know how much that Bacon Gouda weighs?