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British retailer tries to clear up 'coffee confusion'

After a survey found that many java drinkers are baffled by terms such as latte, mocha, venti and grande, Debenhams adopts 'plain English' for its cafe menus.

November 02, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

What we've got here is "coffee confusion."

That's what a British survey found in determining that 70% of java drinkers couldn't figure out a latte from a mocha or a venti from a grande. So the Debenhams department store chain, based in London, replaced all the names with what it called "plain English."

Its new menu, announced this week, lets customers order a "frothy coffee" instead of a cappuccino. A caffe mocha is now a "chocolate flavored coffee" and a caffe latte is a "really, really milky coffee."

Even a black coffee was renamed "simple coffee — with or without milk." An espresso shot is deemed "a shot of strong coffee."

And, in a barely veiled jab at Starbucks and its somewhat arbitrary sizing terms tall, grande and venti — for small, medium and large — Debenhams offers a simpler choice: cup or mug.

In a particularly perky announcement, the department store declared that "no longer will coffee-lovers be in a muddle over mocha, caught out by cappuccino or embarrassed about espresso."

The company said it sells 100,000 coffee drinks a week at its 160 cafes and restaurants in Britain — a small drop in the mug considering that 79% of Brits are coffee drinkers and collectively consume about 70 million cups a day.

No word on what Debenhams would do if customers want their drinks with low-fat or calorie-light milk — or skinny in the current coffeehouse jargon.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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