Coffee clutches across the country now have something more to rave about as they gather at Starbucks.
The java giant is now introducing “coffee ice cubes.” For an 80-cent add-on, customers in search of any of Starbucks’ iced espresso or brewed drinks can cool them with frozen chunks of coffee. The cubes also provide an extra jolt of caffeine to each drink.
Whether the special ice cubes will stick around long-term isn’t known. They are currently only available at 100 stores in Baltimore and St. Louis.
“It’s one of several tests going on,” Starbucks spokesperson Holly Shafer told Market Insider. “Our scale allows us to test things quickly to see what’s next.”
The cubes are something anyone can create — all it takes is some coffee. Starbucks recommends 16 ounces brewed. The next step is the simple one of pouring the brew into a plastic ice tray and sliding it into the freezer. In a few hours or so, they’re ready.
Starbucks unveiled the at-home instructions last year, according to Fortune.
Starbucks isn’t the first coffee company to introduce coffee ice cubes. Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme launched the caffeinated cubes last year with their lines of “Cube Beverages.” The drinks are available with ice cubes made with coffee, mike chocolate, and fruit flavoring.
Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme launched the specialty ice cubes in South Korea. Meanwhile, Starbucks waited as it bolstered the number of stores with proper freezing units.
However, insiders say being second or third to market with coffee ice cubes won’t hurt Starbucks, as the Seattle company has been first with just about everything else for almost 50 years.
Founded in 1971, Starbucks was launched by Jerry Baldwin, an English teacher at the time; Zev Siegl, who taught history; and Gordon Bowker, a writer. The initial plan was to push equipment and coffee beans marketed by a roasting startup owned by Alfred Peet.
With the name of a Moby Dick character (Starbuck) in hand, the company was an immediate hit in at its initial location, 2000 Western Ave., where it stayed until 1976. It then moved to 1912 Pike Place, which is still open.
During the early years of Starbucks, coffee was served in the store, but only as free samples. The founders generated company revenue by selling beans they purchased from Peets. They later began buying from other coffee growers, started to brew their own coffee, and opened sales to the public.
The founders bought Peet’s operation in 1984 and became the pioneer of the specialty coffee retail industry in the United States. By the late ’80s, Starbucks was operating six stores in Seattle and opened up more locations when they started selling espresso.
Howard Schultz, who was operating his chain of coffee bars called Il Giornale, bought Starbucks in 1987. Under Schultz, who earned a communications degree from Northern Michigan University, Starbucks quickly opened stores in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Chicago. There were 46 stores by the end of the decade, and the company was roasting more than 2 million pounds of coffee per year.
Starbucks expanded overseas in 1996, opening a location in Japan.
In addition to its coffee ice cubes, Starbucks has created several trademarked products over the years. It’s signature Frappuccino is now copied by numerous beverage makers who market an array of cold coffee drinks. Variations of the Frappuccino are also sold in thousands of coffee shops under a variety of names and with complementary ingredients.
Starbucks also markets low-calorie products in their stores and through various grocery chains. Most are skim milk-based fare tinged with sugar-free sweeteners.
As fast-food retailers re-branded the 2000s to follow trends towards clean eating, Starbucks made sugar-free adjustments to its food and pastry menus by nixing artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]