People Are Calling Starbucks' Cup Sizes A Scam For "Holding The Same Amount," So I Tested Them Myself And, Sigh, They Don't

·3 min read

A few days ago, a musician named Sueco went viral on TikTok when he started a video by declaring, "You guys are not going to believe this. Starbucks has been scamming us this whole time."

Sueco pouring coffee into different-sized Starbucks cups; the two largest sizes are flipped upside down and you can't see inside them
TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com

To prove his point, Sueco fills a tall size Starbucks cup with coffee, and then claims to pour the exact same contents into a grande cup, which is the company's version of a medium.

Sueco pouring coffee from one cup into the next
TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com

Not only does the coffee indeed fill the grande, it ~overflows~ from the cup.

Coffee spilling over the edge of a venti cup
TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com

Sueco isn't the first to surface this claim. In 2019, a Facebook page called Weekend Go Where Singapore also compared Starbucks cups in a video and showed a tall size nearly filling a grande to its brim.

  Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images

About 16 million people have seen the musician's video, and while the evidence may appear damning, I couldn't help but be a little skeptical. Starbucks has been around since the '70s. If they've been scamming us on cup sizes this whole time, I wondered if it would have taken so many years for outrage to ensue.

  Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images

And I wasn't alone! While some commenters suggested that Sueco's experiment makes sense because the smaller cup appears wider, so that would allow it to hold the same amount as a narrow cup that's taller...

  TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com

...others wanted to see if he put anything inside the bottom of the cups to take up room before he started pouring:

  TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @sueco / Via tiktok.com

So, I drove up to my local Starbucks and asked the incredibly patient barista for an empty cup of each size.

Four Starbucks cups arranged from smallest to largest, with their respective names labeled; all four cups are standing right side up

And yes, I did have to buy something.

Alexa Lisitza

To start my personal experiment, I filled a short size cup with water and dumped that into the tall.

The writer pouring water from the smallest cup into the second smallest; it's an aerial shot, so you can see inside the cup
Alexa Lisitza

Though I did spill the tiniest amount, it was clear that the amount of coffee held by a short was nowhere near the amount that could satiate someone who regularly buys a tall.

After the water is poured, the cup is only about 75% full
Alexa Lisitza

To be fair, though, Sueco did not have a short in his video. He only compared the tall, grande, and venti sizes. So, I filled the tall cup with water and tried again, pouring the contents into the grande.

The same process repeated, with the writing pouring a full tall cup into the grande
Alexa Lisitza

This time, I didn't spill any (nice!) and the cup still wasn't full. It was at this point that Sueco claimed his grande was overflowing from coffee that filled the tall, but unless coffee can multiply itself, that doesn't appear to be true.

After pouring the water into the grande cup, the water level is about an inch or two below the top of the cup
Alexa Lisitza

At this point, I realized the video was BS. But to finish out a thorough investigation, I filled the grande cup and poured the water into my venti.

  Alexa Lisitza
Alexa Lisitza

Spoiler Alert: The cup didn't fill.

Once again, the water level is approximately an inch or two below the top of the cup
Alexa Lisitza

According to Reader's Digest, the Starbucks cups hold the following ounces:

Short: 8 oz.

Tall: 12 oz.

Grande: 16 oz.

Venti: 20 oz.

Whether you call it a prank, optical illusion, or a ploy for views, this isn't the first time someone online gained traction by claiming a fast food company was deceiving customers with their cup sizes. In 2017, a viral video of someone filling a medium-size Jack in the Box cup with a small-size cup's content circulated online and caused quite the stir for people who thought they were wasting their money. This, too, turned out to be false.

  Education Images / Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images / Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

We can officially call the "Starbucks Scam" debunked. Good work today, y'all!