More thought goes into ice than you might think. There are different ice shapes for varying purposes. Cubed ice is excellent for high-end cocktail bars. Flaked ice creates elegant seafood presentations. Then there are the ice shapes meant to fit a business’s everyday ice needs.
Let’s look at some of the most popular ice shapes used by different industries and why they are exceptional choices.
The Best Ice Shapes for Bars, Restaurants, Offices, and Campuses
These businesses tend to use ice primarily for beverages but can also need ice for food prep (as is the case with and restaurants) or to keep food cold (for coolers or lunchboxes). Knowing this, owners tend to want an all-purpose cube that’s hard and melts slowly. Also, ice needs to be easily accessible, so staff or faculty can quickly fill drinks during busy lunch hours or weekend rushes.
Crescent ice, (also known as the KM or KM Edge cube) is specific to Hoshizaki ice machines. As their name suggests, they are flat with a half-moon shape.
One huge benefit to operating a Hoshizaki crescent ice machine is their stainless-steel evaporator plate design. These machines produce ice cubes individually, so they don’t stick together, which makes scooping and pitcher service quick and easy. The evaporator design also is a benefit in offices, campuses, and cafes where dispensers are more common. Since KM series ice machines form ice cubes individually, they are far less likely to get stuck in dispenser drop zones.
Crescent ice also saves money. In fast-paced, high-volume bars and restaurants, splashbacks cause losses in liquor profits. The crescent shape of the cube enables liquids to flow over them, making them splash resistant which saves you money in inventory.
Crescent-shaped cubes fill glasses better than conventional square cubes, which makes drinks stand taller in the glass, giving them a fuller and more impressive appearance. Studies show KM cubes can save you up to 15 percent on your drink yield – which means more profit.
Finally, since KM series ice machines are so popular, they come in a wide range of production sizes, from 250-1900 lbs. and higher. No matter what size your business is, there is a machine large enough to produce ice throughout the day!
Dice Ice and Half Dice Ice
Manitowoc chooses a traditional, square-shaped cube for their machines. Their dice ice cubes come in two types: Dice Ice and Half Dice Ice.
Both ice shapes come in Manitowoc’s unique “rhomboid” shape. While not as symmetrical as a true “cube,” they still have a classic look many high-end cocktail bars find appealing. Dice cubes measure 7/8″ x 7/8″ x 7/8″ while Half Dice cubes are narrower, measuring at 3/8″ x 1-1/8″ x 7/8″.
Manitowoc evaporators are waffle-shaped and create a vertical sheet of ice with cubes that break apart during the harvest cycle when the ice falls into the bin.
One drawback is that the entire sheet of ice does not break apart on impact. About 30% of the cubes remain stuck together. Just make sure to manually break them apart with the ice scoop when retrieving ice or this can lead to large sheets of ice taking up space in a glass.
Manitowoc produces energy efficient ice machines, many of which are Energy Star rated, which means they use fewer resources to produce a batch of ice. They’re also easy to service and come with a diagnostic touchscreen interface which will alert users when maintenance or cleaning is due.
If you’re looking for a high production ice machine with a more traditional ice cube shape, Dice and Half Dice machines come in production sizes between 500-1900 lbs. and above.
The Best Ice Shapes for High-End Bars and Cocktail Lounges
Patrons of these types of bars tend to favor presentation as much as the flavor of their drinks. To meet these demands, owners of cocktail lounges tend to prefer a traditional square cube, which is large and solid. These ice shapes melt very slowly, so they won’t water down the flavor of drinks.
Square and Regular Cubes
Both Hoshizaki and Manitowoc make machines that produce a version of a square-style cube. Hoshizaki’s Square Cube (also called an IM cube) is 1 x 1 x 1 ¼ in, making it nearly symmetrical.
Manitowoc also produces a square-style ice shape they call a Regular Cube. These cubes are a larger version of their Dice Ice, which still maintains the “rhomboid” shape for a twist on the traditional ice cube.
Production is the big difference between these two manufacturers. Hoshizaki IM-series machines range from 200-500 lbs of ice production a day. While this might be enough ice for your standard sized cocktail bar, larger bars will have a hard time maintaining enough ice with one unit. Hoshizaki’s IM-500 ice machine does allow users to stack three units on top of one another, effectively tripling the ice production rate to 1500 lbs, but servicing the lower units becomes very difficult, which leads to machine problems down the line.
Manitowoc ice machines that produce Regular Ice come in much larger production sizes. IR-series machines range from 500-1900 lbs and above.
The Best Ice Shapes for Hospitals and Schools
Since hospitals and schools are serving ice to people with special needs, it makes sense that they would need an ice type that best suits those needs.
Cubelet ice (also called nugget or Sonic ice) is a popular ice shape used in healthcare and educational facilities (these machines are sometimes called an ice chip maker). Cubelet ice is soft and chewable, which is a real benefit to patients who need to stay hydrated but have a hard time swallowing liquid. Since this ice shape is softer than other cubes, it molds well, making it a good choice for cold compresses used to reduce swelling in injuries.
Cubelet ice is also an excellent choice for children who tend to chew on ice in their drinks. The soft texture is easy on their teeth and presents less of a choking hazard.
While not as popular as crescent ice or dice ice, some bars and restaurant owners will specifically ask for cubelet ice because it pairs well with sugary drinks. The porous nature of the ice retains liquid, making for a sweet treat after finishing the drink. These cubes are a great option if your bar or restaurant serves a lot of mai tais, margaritas, or slushes.
Choosing the right ice shapes for your business can be just as important as choosing the right size machine. You want an ice shape that fits the needs of your customers, patients, or students, so they are happy and keep coming to your establishment.
If you’re having a hard time deciding which machine is best for your business, our team of experts has decades of experience choosing the perfect ice machine for any business. Not only will we provide you with a top-of-the-line ice machine, but under our subscription service, we’ll cover all maintenance, repairs, and cleaning. Contact our team or give us a call at 866-easyice (327-9423) today!