Starbucks Is Testing a New, Special Type of Ice

If we told you that Starbucks just started testing a product that is generating major hype, you might expect it to be a buzzworthy new Frappuccino or cold brew… but you’d be wrong. In fact, this new item isn’t even a drink but something that gets stirred into cold beverages: ice.Unconfirmed rumors have been circulating on social media for weeks now that Starbucks is testing new, nugget-shaped ice cubes.

A self-identified Starbucks employee shared a picture of a big tank of the nugget ice on Reddit this week, saying that their store was one of three currently offering the special ice. The claims have also found their way onto TikTok.

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For some consumers, ice innovation may not seem very important, but others think it’s an essential component of a drink and that the shape and texture matter. Ice connoisseurs have a penchant for nugget ice, or the “good ice,” as some call it.

Nugget ice is different from typical ice cubes due to its size and texture. The small, cylindrical pellets are softer and easier to chew than the larger cubes that often come out of ice machines because they’re made from pressed ice flakes. In a 2021 New Yorker piece titled “Pellet Ice Is The Good Ice,” Helen Rosner compared the ice’s flaky layers to a “well-laminated pastry” with “crevices and tiny caves into which your drink can penetrate, and a yielding texture perfect for chewing.” Sonic is another major restaurant chain that uses these crunchy ice pellets instead of more traditional cubes.

While Starbucks’ nugget ice tests remain unverified by the company, many consumers were delighted to hear about the reported change.

“I will go to Starbucks just for this ice,” a customer commented in a Reddit thread about the nugget ice.

Another fan went so far as to suggest that Starbucks “bag it and sell it as snacks.”

On the other hand, others weren’t exactly sold that the nugget ice would work well in Starbucks’ beverages.

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

This ice switch, if true, would be the second major change Starbucks customers have learned about this week. The coffee chain recently confirmed that it is now charging an extra $1 for Refreshers beverages with the “no water” customization, an upcharge that has deeply divided fans.

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