Starbucks Is Changing Its Ice, and People Are Not Happy

Starbucks is rolling out a new round, pellet-like ice nuggets that will replace the thin ice chips over the next few years.

So far this year, Starbucks has had a knack for making its customers mad. A couple of weeks ago, the coffee chain angered fans after announcing an extra $1 charge for Refreshers that are ordered with “no water.” Earlier this winter, the company changed the terms of its reward program and people got upset. And there have been some reports that its new olive oil coffee, Oleato, is giving some people stomach problems.

Now, Starbucks says it’s changing its ice from the current thin chips it uses. The new Starbucks ice will be using “nugget” or “pebble” ice in a round, pellet-like shape. Reaction among fans and employees has been mixed.

Why Is Starbucks Changing Its Ice?

Large Pile of Pellet Ice, Full FrameDRBImages/Getty Images

Starbucks reports that more than 70% of the company’s sales are now iced beverages. For example, the recently released Starbucks summer menu is dominated by cold drinks. So ice cubes have clearly taken on more importance for the chain. The company has already invested in technology to speed up the time it takes to make iced drinks.

“As we continue to innovate and make investments in the Starbucks experience for our partners (baristas) and customers, we are introducing new machines that make nugget ice to select stores this year,” the company said. “Like many of our recent investments, this machine allows partners to focus on delivering the Starbucks experience while hand-crafting the same delicious, high-quality iced beverages our customers have come to expect from Starbucks.”

How Do People Feel About the New Starbucks Ice?

In a Reddit thread started by an employee, there has been robust debate over the ice. The nugget has its advocates, but others worry that it will water down or change the texture of their favorite drinks. “I wonder if it’ll have any impact on beverage quality,” said one commenter. “Do Frappuccinos blend the same? Does the ice melt faster for drinks like the shaken espresso?”

“I love that ice but it’s terrible for coffee… melts fast and waters down the drink,” replied another.

One employee gave the ice an even-handed review: “All of your shaken espressos will need to be shaken even more vigorously, otherwise there won’t be foam to speak of. It’s OK for shaking teas and refreshers though. It does melt faster and your drink will probably get watery easier, but the customers (at least the ones at my store) love the ice!”

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