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Starbucks Is Testing Ice Made of Coffee

Customers say it tastes "stronger and smoother"

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Starbucks is testing an astonishingly simple innovation in iced coffee this summer: ice made out of coffee. For 80 cents extra Starbucks’ patrons can opt to have their cold brew served over coffee ice, thereby eliminating watered-down coffee drinks.

An eight-week trial run is now underway at 100 Starbucks locations in St. Louis, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. "As a company, we often test new products, programs and ideas to gather feedback from our customers and partners (employees)," a Starbucks spokesperson told CNBC.

Coffee shops across the country have been freezing leftover coffee into cubes for drinks (for free) for decades, and coffee ice itself is nothing new. But according to a Starbucks barista on Reddit, Starbucks stores aren’t just upselling old coffee frozen into cubes. “The ice comes already made, in a white package. It's our job to break it apart into ‘cubes’ (aka small chunks),” the barista writes. “The ice is stored in a big grey tub... As of now, we have it kept in a BOH (back-of-house) fridge, so we have to run to the back every time a customer orders it, but this might change.” The same Redditor suggests Starbucks’ customers try the coffee ice in Frappuccinos because it makes them taste “stronger and... a lot smoother.”

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to Eater that the coffee ice is made using Starbucks coffee and delivered to the 100 stores that are testing the product. It is not made by baristas at individual Starbucks outlets.

Coffee snobs point out that coffee ice in iced coffee is only going to enhance the drink’s bitterness. But for those who dilute their coffee with milk and sugar anyway, at 80 cents per drink, adding coffee ice is a cheaper hit of extra caffeine than adding a shot of espresso. (Starbucks charges an average of $1.75 for a shot of espresso.) Whether or not it’s better quality is another story.

Every season Starbucks announces new drinks, and summer is a particularly busy time for new iced beverage creations. In 2015, America’s biggest coffee retailer released cold brew. In 2016, it launched nitro coffee on tap. Though the company founded in 1971 already made waves this spring with a Unicorn Frappuccino, coffee ice just might be the easy and affordable caffeine bump we all need to get us through summer 2017.

Starbucks Tests Coffee Ice As a New Way to Add a Jolt to Your Latte [E]
All Starbucks Coverage [E]

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