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Why Is Starbucks Switching to Nugget ice? Our Ice Experts Weigh In

Coffee enthusiasts everywhere know the sound—the distinctive rattle of an iced coffee being swirled to get the perfect blend of ingredients. It’s a foolproof way to ensure every sip is consistent, balanced, delicious, and most importantly, ice cold. While the taste of your coffee is essential, the quality of your ice plays a significant role in your overall coffee experience. 

Case in point: Starbucks, one of the largest coffee chains worldwide, recently announced its decision to switch to nugget ice. On your morning Starbucks run, you may notice that instead of blocky ice cubes, your iced Starbucks drinks contain pearly ice nuggets. What’s the reasoning behind this move, and why is Starbucks changing their ice? In this blog post, we'll get the scoop behind Starbucks' latest ice evolution and the significance of ice on your drink experience.

The Scoop On Starbucks’ Switch To Nugget Ice

It’s no secret that cool is where it’s at—especially at Starbucks where cold drinks represent 75% of the coffee giant’s sales. More people than ever are ditching the steaming cup of joe and opting for an iced coffee from Starbucks. 

With a customer base devoted to Starbucks’ iced drinks, switching to an ice type that is ideal for iced coffees, refreshers, and cold brews is good business sense—plain and simple.

What Difference Does Ice Make? Our Experts Weigh In

Nugget ice, also known as pellet ice or Sonic ice, has come a long way over the past few years. Initially, this type of ice was a prevalent choice among healthcare facilities to aid patients with swallowing difficulties. However, over time, the demand for nugget ice extended to various industries, including hotel establishments and convenience stores. 

People overwhelmingly love nugget ice for its dense crunchy texture and super-cooling abilities, leading more and more restaurants to invest in a commercial nugget ice machine—and Starbucks has now joined the ranks.

The Texture Factor

Nugget ice is softer, crunchier, and less dense than traditional ice cubes. Plus nugget ice doesn’t melt as quickly—which means your lattes, cold brews, and iced coffees retain their rich flavor for longer, and are less likely to get that watery diluted taste.

Chilling Efficiency

Traditional ice cubes tend to be larger than pellet ice, which can make it harder and slower to chill your drinks quickly. Nuggets ice is softer and more porous, allowing for quicker cooling and taking the drinks to a lower temperature. As an added bonus, nugget ice keeps the drink colder for a longer time, which will allow Starbucks customers to enjoy their drinks longer without worrying about them getting gross and watery too quickly.

Related: Which Type of Ice is Right for Your Restaurant? Nugget, Cube, Bullet, or Pearl?

The Cold, Hard Business Facts About Starbucks’ Pellet Ice

With the move toward nugget ice, Starbucks is making a smart business decision that keeps their customers happy with a consistent, elevated drink experience. However, Starbucks’ nugget ice choice isn’t just about making the best iced Starbucks drink—it’s also a smart move based on the cold, hard numbers.

Nugget ice makers (also known as pearl nugget ice makers) tend to be more energy efficient and use less water, which puts Starbucks in a financially smart position to keep a little green in their pocket and keep their customers happy. 

Ready To Take The Plunge on Nugget Ice?

At Memphis Ice, we believe nugget ice isn’t just for coffee—it’s a versatile ice type that people love to see at their favorite restaurants. If you’re ready to serve high quality ice, you’ll need a commercial pellet ice machine—and we’re here to help you find the best nugget ice maker for you and your business. Contact us today to learn more about our nugget ice machines, get a quote, or ask you cool questions!

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