Ice is just frozen water... said no ice aficionado ever. If you're an ice cruncher, you know there's "good ice" — and then there's everything else. For the uninitiated, good ice is also known as nugget ice (or pellet ice, or "Sonic" ice), and it's coming to a Starbucks near you soon.
Earlier in May, Starbucks confirmed to Insider that it is beginning to roll out nugget ice in locations across the country. Stores with the highest volume of iced drink sales will get the new machines first as the company commits to changing out all of the current ice machines over the course of the next two years.
Currently, Starbucks' ice is pretty standard. The company's cubes are mid-sized and just a little too big to crunch on until they've melted a bit. Some fans of the coffee chain are concerned the switch to the smaller nugget ice will lead to less drink and more water in their cups, but Starbucks told Insider the company's early tests indicate customers won't be getting less bang for their Pink Drink buck.
Baristas will use the same scoops they currently use to scoop the ice, which should keep the drink-to-ice ratio roughly the same. Nugget ice also blends easily, which could make for an even smoother Frappuccino experience. As a bonus, Starbucks told the publication that the new machines will use less water to produce ice, furthering the company's commitment to sustainability.
What's so great about nugget ice?
Nugget ice is at the top of the ice pyramid for a reason: It's basically a snack. OK, so nutritionally speaking, ice isn't food. (If you crave ice on a regular basis, you may want to call your doctor for a check-up — it could be a sign of anemia.) But there's nothing quite as satisfying as munching on cold, easy-to-crunch ice nuggets on a hot afternoon. Nugget ice also has the added benefit of being pleasantly crunchy while also being way easier on your teeth than dense cubes.
When a Starbucks employee shared the ice news on Reddit, the response was mixed, but fans of nugget ice showed up to express their excitement in a big way. One user commented, "YO IT'S THE GOOD CRONCHY ICE OMFG." Another added, "I will go to Starbucks just for this ice."
Only time will tell if nugget ice and coffee are a perfect match, but for people with serious opinions about ice, this move could send them to Starbucks just to load up on cups of the crunchy goodness.
Where else can you get nugget ice?
Finding nugget ice at a restaurant always feels like a win. The number one place most fans go to find the good ice is Sonic. The fast food chain is famous for filling its cups with tasty nugget ice, but it's not the only place to find those delicate cubes in the wild. While you wait for nugget ice to arrive at your local Starbucks, try one of these chains:
- Cook Out
- Raising Cane's
- Which Wich
If you need nugget ice in your life daily, you might want to consider purchasing a nugget ice maker. Full disclosure: Specialty ice machines can be a significant investment, but it could be worth it if you can't abide boring cubes in your drink. GE makes a countertop nugget ice maker that retails for $579.
It's a splurge, for sure, but if you don't live near a Sonic or Chik-fil-A, it's one way to guarantee you always have the "good ice" on hand.
Looking for a more budget-friendly option? Try a mini-ice tray. They can be a bit fiddly to put in the freezer, but they deliver on the crunch factor.
This set on Amazon retails for $17.99, and it even comes with its own ice bin and scoop to ensure you can grab your nugget ice and go with zero hassle once the freezing part of the process is completed.