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British retailer tries to clear up 'coffee confusion'

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By Tiffany Hsu
Los Angeles Times
Published:
What we've got here is "coffee confusion."
That's what a British survey found in determining that 70 percent 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 percent 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.
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2012 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
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