What Is Nitro Coffee?

Nitro coffee is coffee infused with nitrogen gas. The nitrogen acts as a pressurized propellant so baristas can dispense the coffee from kegs. While it’s possible to make hot-brewed nitro coffee, it must be prepared in small amounts and is therefore uncommon. Cold brew nitro coffee is easy to make in bulk. In recent years, nitro cold brew has increased on menus by an incredible 904%. Nitro coffee is no longer a novel coffee trend; it’s become a reliable coffee shop menu staple. We teach you about nitro coffee so you can incorporate it into your cafe and answer customers’ questions.

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What Is Nitro Cold Brew?

What is Nitro Coffee?

Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas. Nitrogen gas is completely safe and has been used in beer varieties like porters and stouts for decades. It creates small bubbles in the coffee and gives nitro cold brew its signature thick, creamy texture. The nitrogen also forms a dense, foamy top layer that resembles a beer head.

Experimental baristas at Cuvee Coffee in Austin, Texas created nitro cold brew in 2012. Third-wave coffee shops across the U.S. adopted it, and its popularity grew. You can now find it at major chains or buy canned nitro coffee online, at grocery stores, and from vending machines.

What Does Nitro Cold Brew Taste Like?

Nitro cold brew tastes like a sweet, balanced coffee with a rich mouthfeel. The nitrogen gas reduces the coffee’s bitterness and acidity, and many non-coffee drinkers find it enjoyable. Thanks to its creamy consistency, those who normally favor milk and syrup laden espresso-based drinks can enjoy nitro cold brew without cream or sugar.

Nitro Cold Brew Caffeine

Nitro cold brew has nearly 30% more caffeine than regular drip coffee. On average, a 12 oz. serving of nitro cold brew will contain 207 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. In contrast, a 12 oz. vanilla latte contains approximately 85 mg of caffeine. Some scientists believe nitrogen gas helps the body process caffeine, so nitro cold brew expedites energy boosts.

Is Nitro Cold Brew Bad for You?

Nitro cold brew is considered a healthy drink. Its two ingredients, coffee and nitrogen, pose no risk to human health. Drinking coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of heart failure and coronary heart disease. 78% of the air we breathe is made up of nitrogen. Since smooth and creamy nitro cold brew doesn’t require milk and sweeteners, it helps patrons enjoy the health benefits of coffee without drowning them in unhealthy additives.

Does Nitro Cold Brew Have Alcohol?

No, nitro cold brew does not have alcohol. While it’s served out of beer kegs and resembles a dark beer, nitro cold brew is an alcohol-free drink. Its only ingredients are coffee and nitrogen gas.

Nitro Cold Brew vs Cold Brew

labeled images of nitro cold brew and regular cold brew side by side to compare and contrast them

Cold brew is made by steeping extra coarse ground coffee in cool water for 12 to 24 hours, and nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas. Due to its extended brew times, cold brew coffee is known for its strong flavor. Nitro cold brew offers the flavor richness of cold brew, but the nitrogen gas removes any unpleasant acidic or bitter notes. It requires almost double the amount of coffee grounds to make cold brew, producing a highly caffeinated beverage. Because of the nitrogen infusion, nitro cold brew is more expensive to purchase and create than regular cold brew.

  • Nitro Cold Brew vs Cold Brew Flavor - Nitro cold brew is smoother, creamier, and has a foam head that resembles cold foam.
  • Nitro Cold Brew vs Cold Brew Production - Cold brew is coffee brewed in cold water. Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen.
  • Nitro Cold Brew vs Cold Brew Caffeination - Nitro cold brew and regular cold brew contain the same amounts of caffeine.
  • Nitro Cold Brew vs Cold Brew Price - Nitro cold brew is more expensive both to purchase and produce.

How to Make Nitro Cold Brew

How to make nitro coffee

Coffee shops make nitro cold brew by pouring cold brew coffee into a keg, infusing it with nitrogen bubbles, and then pushing it through a pressurized valve to yield the same frothy head as “on tap” beer. You can use the same process to make other nitro-infused beverages like nitro matcha, nitro chai, and nitro mocktails. Acquire these three pieces of coffee shop equipment, and you'll be ready to diversify your coffee shop menu with nitro infused drinks:

  • Keg - holds the cold brew coffee
  • Nitrogen gas - adds the effervescence
  • Nitro infuser box - specifically designed to handle the acidity of coffee without rusting or wearing down

How Long Does Nitro Cold Brew Last?

If stored properly, nitro cold brew lasts up to three months. However, experts recommend serving your nitro cold brew within two weeks of preparing it. Refrigerate your cold brew and store it in a keg under pressure with nitrogen to extend its shelf life. Nitro cold brew is also perfect for the RTD (ready-to-drink) canned coffee segment because pure nitrogen keeps bottled and canned drinks fresh.

Manage high traffic times by having batches of nitro cold brew ready to dispense. While there is some initial investment required, nitro cold brew sells at premium prices, which more than compensates you in the long run. From nitro cold brew to nitro mocktails, the equipment can diversify your whole menu and help you convert your coffee shop into a nonalcoholic bar in the evenings.

Posted in: Coffee & Tea|Foodservice Trends|By Corrinn McCauley
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