Starbucks is testing out ice cubes made of coffee

Brilliant idea or charlatan tool?
Brilliant idea or charlatan tool?
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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For less than a dollar, Starbucks fanatics can give their iced coffee a little extra staying power.

The Seattle-based chain is in the midst of an eight-week trial run in which it’s experimenting with ice cubes made out of coffee to help curb its cold drinks from becoming too watery—all for an extra 80 cents. It’s only available at 100 US locations right now, in St. Louis and Baltimore, Eater reports.

On its face, the test phase seems wholly inefficient. The ice is prepped with Starbucks coffee and frozen off-site, then it is shipped in large packages to the tester locations, where employees have to break it apart into cubes and then store it in a chiller in the back of the coffeehouses. Anytime someone orders a drink with the specialty cubes, the barista has to make a trip to the back of the restaurant.

Still, if the idea proves popular the global chain could roll it out at more of its coffeehouses and try to integrate it more seamlessly into the in-store processes. Since the weather has warmed across the US, Starbucks has been focusing on its colder drinks—first with its strawberry açai refresher, then the technicolor Unicorn Frappucino, and now this.

The coffee-cube concept may seem clever to some, but coffee snobs are already condemning coffee cubes as a charlatan tactic to keep coffee tasting pure for a longer period of time. In fact, they say, the new cubes run the risk of ruining coffee drinks by making them too bitter.

Still, for less than a buck extra on a hot summer day, it might be pointless to many to sweat those details. One Redditor even suggests a further improvement: “Milk ice would be cool, too.”