One night, while working late in Chicago many years ago, I ordered a venti Starbucks coffee around 11 p.m., finished my shift at midnight, got into the car and drove through Canada. It was the easiest drive I ever made. I was totally awake for the whole trip.
One night, while working late in Chicago many years ago, I ordered a venti Starbucks coffee around 11 p.m., finished my shift at midnight, got into the car and drove through Canada. It was the easiest drive I ever made. I was totally awake for the whole trip, first through Michigan (which back then still had money for highway asphalt, which was nice), and then Canada, which was clean, uninterrupted landscape broken only by the occasional rest stop and impromptu all-moose Gordon Lightfoot cover-band concert.
The venti totally kept me up through the night, through the rhythm and monotony of the dark, deserted highway, which was broken only by the occasional changing of the CD and the need to find a bathroom every nine minutes. And then I stopped for breakfast, switched places with my wife, and stone-cold passed out in the passenger seat for approximately the next three days.
I bring this up because until recently the Starbucks venti, which single-handedly propelled me through an evening of treacherous international travel, was among the largest coffee-delivery vessels you could purchase in America without applying for a federal exemption (thank you very much Obamacare). But the venti is a wee candypants Dixie cup joke next to a gut-blurchingly Starbucks cup called the Trenta, which means "thirty" in Italian and "If you don't tell me where the bathroom is now, I am not going to be responsible to what's about to happen to this couch" in pretty much every other language.
The Trenta, which hit test markets last year and has expanded to 14 states, is basically an 31-ounce Donkey Kong barrel with a straw, and actually it's not even so much a straw so much as a length of PVC pipe that can be easily recycled if you know an active pole vaulter. Because 31 fluid ounces, for those of you liquid-volume aficionados out there, is 63 percent larger than the venti and more than can be contained by the average human stomach.
Let's run through that again: More than can be contained BY THE AVERAGE HUMAN STOMACH. If you are a cow, this is the cup for you, although you'll still have the usual problem of getting out of Starbucks without everyone hitting you up for milk. But if you are a human person who is not B.J. Raji, this is a drink that will tax the boingy properties of your insides and will in all likelihood end up leaking out of someplace.
(And, yes, by comparison, the fitness experts at 7-11 have already produced a Double Big Gulp that contains 64 ounces of either soda of creatively colored iceslush, and you can't wake up in the morning without discovering that some fast-food chain has produced a tremendous new meat-hork stuffed with jalapenos or dog or whatever, but I'm pretty sure if you eat or drink regularly at 7-11 you're well past sweating your own mortality.)
Now, it is no secret that coffee and I have a long and pathetically co-dependent relationship that goes back decades. It's not like I want to be here putting down coffee. I'm kind of worried about coffee hearing me talking smack about it and get mad. I'd just as soon make fun of my own son as coffee, especially because coffee can probably get pants on in the morning in under 25 minutes.
But this is a pretty ridiculous deal, even for those of us for whom it would basically just save a lot of time and water to just chaw down some beans every morning. Starbucks says the Trenta will be launched initially in 14 states, then, after those states are unable to move due to bloating and uncontrollable caffeine tremors, move on to disable the rest of the country. It'll also only use the bucket for iced coffee, having yet to invent a machine that can brew enough hot coffee to fill it up. I bet there are labs working on that right now, in Canada.
In fact-checking this column, Jeff Vrabel learned from Wikipedia that Gordon Lightfoot achieved international success in both folk AND folk-rock music. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com and followed at http://twitter.com — Jeff, that is. Jeff has no idea what Lightfoot's Twitter handle is.