What do you think of customers who ask for an iced beverage that is “light on the ice.” Is that cool to do? A lot of times whenever I order an iced coffee or any other kind of iced drink, all I get is a cup full of ice.

Should I just order the next size up or is my request for “light on the ice” legitimate?

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Something I find annoying as well–to much ice. I drink a lot of iced tea. A lot of places keep refilling your glass with a little tea and way to much ice. After a refill or two, you get one or two sips of tea amid all the ice.

    The idea is to create a beverage that is chilled as well as drinkable. There is a ratio of ice to liquid. How you accomplish this is going to vary shop to shop based on the process, hardness of the ice and so on.

    I’d say this is a valid request. But, it is one you shouldn’t have to make if someone was paying attention.

  2. Some people don’t like ice at all (like my wife). I’ve also heard that it’s not good to pour ~35 degree liquid into a 98.6 degree body. The concern whether less ice, more beverage = less profit is not valid (or shouldn’t be considered so!).

  3. Chris,

    Asking for light or no ice is fine with me. As a coffee shop owner, I don’t give it a second thought and am happy to make our customers happy too. And for us it’s not an issue of wanting to keep costs down by giving more ice than beverage. (All iced drinks are 4 oz larger than the hot ones.) However, generally we go heavy on the ice for most people who want to enjoy a very cold drink in the very hot desert.

  4. i have been yelled at before for that somewhere in Tucson. We dont use very much ice because we shake all of our iced drinks in a cocktail tumbler. We use a lot of ice for that but the drink ends up being just above freezing and so little ice is needed.

    The drinks taste better shaken, and the customer is happy.

  5. Depending on the drink, I agree that shaken cold beverages are often better. I wouldn’t shake milk, though, it’s an effective way to chill espresso to keep the total average temperature down.

    The only reason to have a lot of ice is, as others have said, to keep the temperature low. At least, in our business that’s how it is most of the time. In others (like Bill’s Iced Tea example), they count on too much ice to keep the use of product down. It’s still cheaper to keep refilling a glass than it is to end up throwing half of a glass a way when the guests leave… 40+ times per shift.

    Milk is more expensive, but the ice isn’t really part of the drink… it’s got a purpose, and the customer should be able to ask for light, or even no ice, with the barista happy to oblige.

    Just my $.02

  6. Jason, why not shake milk? Bubbles?

  7. There are a couple of reasons.

    Milk is harder to clean off of other surfaces. (it leaves a lingering flavor/aroma, even after being rinsed thoroughly)

    Bubbles are only a good thing when they’re tiny, dense, and they contribute to the flavor and texture. (big bubbles don’t fit the bill, and that’s all you’ll get from shaking.. like blowing bubbles in your chocolate milk)

    There’s just something about watered down milk that puts me off. The less melted ice, the better. Shaking breaks up the ice a bit, and can have the effect of dilluting the milk a bit quicker than other methods… in my opinion, of course.

    Mostly, it’s just a personal preference.. for the reasons and speculations mentioned.

  8. Yes…and no. Milk is hard to clean off of surfaces but the only thing we sell iced is mochas and lattes for the most part, iced americanos aren’t very popular.

    If shaken properly then the it doesn’t actually produce bubbles or the ones produced are kept back by the screen so all that you get is a rich head and a much creamier flavor. The amount you lose from the bubbles is only about a tablespoon.

    Watered down milk only happens if done in the wrong order. Mix you drink first in the glass you are using, then fill the tumbler with ice, then pour the drink (which was already cooled by milk) over ice, then cap and shake very vigorously. This will flash cool the drink making sure that liquid covers the optimal surface area of ice. Melting less than a tablespoon of ice.

    The ice must cool the drink rather than the drink warming up the ice. Pouring ice into liquid is one of the fastest ways to melt it.

  9. I like the idea of using a cocktail shaker…as a Barista I am very passionate about the perfect drink..so I am also passionate about the liquid to ice ratio….so my first reaction to light on the ice is “so now you are going to tell me how to make the drink?” but how would the average customer know that I am passionate about my liquid to ice ratio…and if they are a regular..and still requesting lught ice then we have two different ideas of the perfect liquid to ice ratio…and thats okay….anyway…we all like different things…and that is what its all about…happy customers…happy people

  10. Okay, perfectly frothed milk I can understand. Perfect espresso is a little harder to swallow, but I’ll bite.

    Perfect ice to liquid ratio? No such thing. It’s all subjective. Some people like less, some like more, and each person likes their beverage at a different temperature. And, since there’s no cultural rule about it.. since it’s not a cultural drink, I don’t hardly believe that there can be such a thing as a “perfect” ice to liquid ratio. You may have your preference, but that doesn’t make it an industry, or even shop, standard.

    I happen to be one of those “light ice” people, yet I know a ton of people who would tell me why more ice is better.

    I like coffee… not ice. Sometimes I just prefer the coffee to be cold, but that doesn’t mean I want to be slurping it through a floating colony of ice cubes.

  11. Yeah the shaker gets washed after every use. There are so many different drinks that you make in it. It would be like not washing your blenders.

    I think that the ice:liquid ratio is important and that while it ice alone is a cultural difference, as a barista it is our drink that is being served. Like telling a chef to not use salt because you have had a bad experience at McDonalds. Though I certainly understand when people ask. However if you make your drinks consistently then less ice means more milk meaning a different flavor of drink.

    A good iced drink should be shaken with just enough ice to keep it from warming too quickly and melting too little ice too fast. My iced mochas should also be drunk with a thin straw so that it hits the palette in the right place with the right amount.

    I am really into iced mochas.

  12. I have to admit, the shaker idea sounds really good. I think it’s interesting how this ice topic is so popular. It all comes down to value. Am I purchasing a drink or a cup of ice. That’s all it is to me.