Here’s a question I get a lot: “How do I order coffee at Starbucks?

There’s something about the ubiquitous green-aproned store that seems to intimidate people who’ve never been in one before. They get the impression that there’s some kind of complex lingo they’ll never be able to understand. There’s so many jokes about how the size names are bizarre and the drinks are complicated that people think it’s too difficult.

Well folks, have no fear, I’m here to sort you out. Here is the super-complex, amazing, mysterious way to order coffee at Starbucks. Wait in line, and when you get to the cash register and the person in the green apron asks you what you want, utter the following code phrase:

“I’d like a medium coffee, please.”

That’s it. If you’d like a small or a large, use those words instead. They’ll take your money and pour you a coffee. It’ll run you somewhere between one and two dollars in most American stores.

Starbucks does have weird drink size names (and the story behind those names is here). But the people behind the counter are human beings and they know what small, medium, and large mean. You can use them. It’s okay. They don’t look down on you for it, and if they snottily correct you — as I have seen many people insist happened to them, but I have never personally witnessed — then they are giving you bad customer service. They may repeat your drink with the official Starbucks size name, but they are not supposed to correct you.

Now, if you want to know what to order other than regular coffee, that’s a subject for another post. Until then, you can always look at the menu or the website for ideas, or just ask the barista at the register. Be prepared to give a vague idea of what you’re in the mood for (hot/cold, sweet/not sweet, coffee/no coffee).