Starbucks had it year, you all. The company has been in the news a lot over the past 12 months or so, from its future plans to automate certain parts of the drink-making process, to the controversial launch of drinks infused with olive oil, to recent speculation that the company will start charging for customizations of “light ice”. for their famous invigorating drinks.
Although the “light ice” surcharge seems to be a myth, it is the tip of the iceberg iceberg (I’m sorry, I had to) when it comes to the company’s actual approach to keeping drinks cold. As one Redditor in the r/starbucks community mentioned recently, the chain has begun the process of completely revamping what ice will look at Starbucks locations, and people are already having big feelings about the change.
Fans of Sonic and Chick-fil-A will recognize the pellet-shaped ice almost immediately. The so-called “nugget” ice has basically garnered a cult-like following with these two fast food restaurants; Fans in the r/IceChewersAnonymous community say the ice is “more fun” than the standard ice you’ll find in most fast food restaurants these days, tastes better, and, as the subreddit title suggests, is actually to chew.
Redditors in favor of the ice update leave their praises all over the topic, including everything from “Put the bag down and sell it as snacks” to “God, if I still worked at Starbucks, I know my ass would fall into scooping handfuls of this ice in my mouth “.
Iceberg opponents, however, tell a different story. Most interestingly, they point out the main differences between a place like Sonic that serves ice vs. Starbucks, where the drinks served differ significantly from the average soda and soft drink. This particular shape of ice tends to melt quickly due to its surface area, which is often a welcome phenomenon when sipping on soda, but less tasty when we’re talking about watering down coffee drinks—especially iced lattes and other drinks with dairy.
One Redditor claims to operate an “incubation shop” (formally known as community stores), where new products, methods, and equipment are often tested with smaller customer bases before they’re fully released. In their response, they note that they have used the new ice shape since “last summer,” and that while customers generally love the ice, they claim it also comes with some logistical changes. According to their commentary, since more ice fits per scoop, the “light ice” should be lighter, and shaken espresso drinks should be shaken more vigorously to produce the same foamy effect.
In a statement to todayStarbucks confirmed that it will be bringing “new machines that make ice cubes to select stores this year,” and added that the change was made with both employees and customers in mind. The rollout will be a multi-year process, with priority given to stores that sell large quantities of iced drinks.
Combined with the company’s lengthy “reinvention plan,” which includes many streamlined processes for employees and more convenience for employees, this particular change could be very successful from the company’s desire to reduce its environmental footprint. Two years ago, Starbucks publicly announced its goal of reducing water consumption by 50% before 2030, and it should be noted that these new ice machines claim to use less water than standard ice machines.
Chewblet ice—yes, that’s what this form of ice is literally called—is made on machines made by Follett, and each piece of ice is loaded with tiny pockets of air from the compression process. These air pockets mean that Chewblet ice contains less water than other ice cubes of the same size, which is also why it retains a chewy, flaky texture that not many people can get enough of.
Starbucks fans: I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the fan-favorite ice cube finally making its way to Starbucks? Are you asking for a cup of ice to grind, or are you grieving the impending loss of waterless iced coffee? Chime in the comments below. ⬇️
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