Your go-to iced latte may look different soon.
Starbucks is trialing smaller pebble ice in a select number of U.S. locations, a brand representative tells VinePair. The coffee chain currently uses larger chipped ice in its Refreshers, tea, lattes, and other cold beverages. The move is part of a multi-year initiative to roll out new nugget ice machines to locations nationally, the company says.
“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 Starbucks representative says. “Customers who have tried the nugget ice in our hand-crafted iced beverages during testing had a resoundingly positive response.”
While the change could be seen as inconsequential as ice plays a large role in the dilution of beverages, ice shape and size can affect how watered-down a drink can become, and how fast. If you’ve ever visited a Sonic Drive-In, you’ve seen the smaller, slush-like ice used for its extensive beverage menu.
When used in boozier capacities, pebble ice shines in Tiki drinks (like Mai Tais and Painkillers) or Mint Juleps. The ice can add convenience behind the bar, too, as pebble ice machines can help speed up service and assist bartenders in high-volume venues.
Starbucks says that they’ve tested the dilution rate of nugget ice, and that it does not melt faster than the current ice size. The amount of ice in beverages will also not change, per the company. Pebble ice machines are set to reduce Starbucks’ water usage and support their goal of cutting their water consumption 50% by 2030.
Social media reception has been mixed, but time will tell if nugget ice will be a permanent staple at your go-to outpost.