The Blend

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Blog

woman driving classic car with the top down, driving by the beach holding a vanilla ice blended drink

The History of Ice Blended® Drinks

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

When you think of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, what’s the first image that springs to mind? For some, it might be a perfectly steeped cup of tea sourced from Sri Lanka or China. For others, it’s a bag of whole bean coffee nestled in the pantry.

For many of our loyal customers, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is synonymous with our enduring fan favorite: the Ice Blended® drink. We are devoted fans of Ice Blended drinks. You can’t go wrong with a combination of espresso coffee, crunchy yet soft pellet ice, milk, and our signature powders when you need to cool down and sharpen up. The SoCal-born drink is a staple of our lineup for a reason — it’s the only thing you need when the heat is on and you have your best life to live.

But where did Ice Blended drinks get their start? We unearth the origins of our beloved concoction.

Humble Beginnings

There wouldn’t be an Ice Blended drink without The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Our founder, Herb Hyman, enjoyed the best cup of coffee he’d ever had while honeymooning in Sweden in 1963. Herb and his wife vowed to make gourmet coffee and tea a reality for everyone stateside. He flew home and just five years later opened our first location in Brentwood, California.

The mythical first Ice Blended drink came to life in our Westwood location in the mid-1980s. Our Westwood store manager returned from two years of living abroad, freshly inspired by the experimentation and spirit of European-style coffee houses. She also jump-started her move back to the states with a dedication to a new diet, adding diet powder to many of her drinks and meals.

Back on the job at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, our hero brought her diet powder to the store and mixed it with milk and ice, per the packaging instructions. She gave it a taste — it was fine, but she was confident she could kick it up a notch.

On her second try, the store manager added our coffee extract but felt that she could still improve her improvised diet shake. Realizing that we had our own chocolate powder in the store, she replaced the diet shake powder with our signature flavored powder and blended it with ice, coffee extract, and milk. The results were nothing short of delicious!

From Secret to Staple

The store manager’s makeshift blended iced coffee drink soon became the beverage-of-choice for the team members behind-the-bar. Customers would come in, prepared to order their usual, and spot a team member drinking something off the menu.

Intrigued, the customers would ask, “What are you drinking?” When unsure of their order, they would say, “I’ll have what you’re having.”

It became apparent that we had a hit on our hands and needed to name this drink right away to add it to the menu. Our magic makers put their heads together, and because the drink included coffee, powder, and milk, just like a Café Mocha, and it was iced and blended, a highly original name emerged: the Ice Blended Café Mocha.

Eventually, we added more flavors, and the menu item name became Ice Blended drinks. With that refreshing, cool twist on coffee widely available in our stores, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf saw a surge in popularity. Thanks to a commitment to defy convention and push for new inspiration, our team created something now cherished around the world.

The Ice Blended Drink Today

While coffee is great for chilly winter days, the temperature in SoCal often hovers around 80 or 90 degrees. Even in areas where it’s not always warm and sunny, countless coffee aficionados around the world enjoy our iconic Ice Blended drinks. In fact, the drink became so popular that this other coffee chain (you might have heard of them — they originated in Seattle) based their tentpole Frappuccino drinks on our Ice Blended drinks. Let the record show: we did it first, and we do it best - made with fresh espresso roast coffee, never instant. 

Three decades after its invention, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf sells tens of thousands of Ice Blended drinks a day. When you stop in at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near you, our menu includes several permanent and seasonal variations to delight your taste buds. Try a smooth Mocha Ice Blended drink or indulge in a seasonal treat like the Midnight Mocha Cookies & Cream Ice Blended drink. Discover your new obsession today and carry on the history of this bedrock beverage.