Rantings of a sub-editor

April 13, 2010

The bigger the better? How irregular

Filed under: regular,word choice — substuff @ 9:16 am

I am not a coffee drinker, generally. I am one of those supercilious types who sips on green tea while others pollute their bodies. As I write, a large cup of Lipton peppermint and cinnamon tea is steaming away by my keyboard. However, occasionally, when no-one is looking, I do indulge in the odd latte.

Sunday afternoon was just such an occasion. On the way home from a wedding, as I scampered across Victoria station juggling a couple of bags and a slight hangover, Delice de France caught my eye (or my nostrils).

I ordered a brie and bacon croissant and a latte. “A regular latte?” asked the man. Yes, a regular latte. The more-than-£5 bill was a bit of a shocker, but hey, it’s London.


The man behind the counter put the crane into gear and started cranking. Slowly, my coffee rose into view. The counter groaned as it took the weight. I shouldered my bags and with both hands, reached out to lift the cup. As I took possession, my muscles trembled under the strain. Finally, a passing security chap, resplendent in fluorescent yellow, hailed one of those beeping cars, which eventually transported me and my swimming pool of coffee to platform 18.

Well, something like that, anyway.

“Regular”. Are you serious?

Let me read to you from the OED, Delice de France.

denoting merchandise, especially food or drink, of average, medium or standard size

So how big is an average, medium, standard, regular coffee? Well call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t this be… umm… the regular size you make at home? Y’know, an average cup. A normal one, if you will. Say about 10 ounces? So then a ‘small’ would be perhaps 8oz and a large would be 12oz. But no. I am pretty sure that I was given a good 16oz of latte – that, fellow pedants, is a pint. A pint!

Now I admit that I shouldn’t have fallen for the old “a regular latte?” marketing trick. But still. This is silly. One pint of coffee and milk is not regular. In fact, I would argue that it is highly irregular. Most of it was milk, so… that’s the best part of 261 calories and 9.1 grams of fat. If I’d known that, I’d have gone for chocolate cake instead, dammit.

Political parties listen up! First one to promise legislation on appropriate use of adjectives of size gets my vote. No more primo, medio and massimo, Costa. No more tall, grande and venti, Starbucks. No more ridiculous regulars, Delice. C’mon, Mr Brown, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg. Last one there’s a Tory!

Googling my plight, I discovered this post from a disgruntled Starbucks customer protesting against being made to say ‘venti’. Very funny.



  1. I always ask to see the cup before ordering!

    Comment by Anonymous — April 13, 2010 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  2. 16 ounces = 1 pint in the good ol’ US of A.
    20 ounces = 1 pint in blighty

    Does that mean UK pints are bigger, US ounces are bigger or that they are based on pints of things of different density?

    Comment by Dino — April 16, 2010 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  3. Long live Segafredo! Proper coffee in proper cups

    Comment by PhotoJoe — April 16, 2010 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  4. Yes yes, I have already owned up (on my previous blog) that I unwittingly used an American converter rather than a British one. I have given myself a good slapping, don’t worry.

    Segafredo, hm? Never heard of it.

    Comment by substuff — April 19, 2010 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  5. Remember the old rhyme: a pint of water/weighs a pounds and a quarter…

    Comment by The Raj — April 20, 2010 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

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