Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a casual drinker, chances are you’ve seen nitro cold brew on the menu at your local cafe. And if you’ve never tried it, you might be wondering, “What is nitro cold brew?”
The beverage is still fairly new to the coffee scene, but it’s quickly become a cult favorite. Looking for a quick intro to this delicious drink? You’re in luck. Today we’re going to go over everything you need to know about this rising coffee star.
What Is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee with a fun twist: it’s infused with nitrogen gas.
The idea is to give it a pop, much the way you would by adding gas to a cold beverage (think soda). It’s already common practice to add nitrogen to certain beers, most famously Guinness.
And it works surprisingly well when you add it to cold brew coffee, as it gives it a smooth and creamy texture.
The Origins of Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
Unlike regular coffee, which has a long history, nitro cold brew has only been around a few years.
Who Invented Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
It depends on who you ask.
There is some pretty lively debate about who had the exact idea. What we know for sure is that nitro cold brew traces back to the early 2010s. Both Cuvee Coffee in Austin and Stumptown in Portland are credited with the idea, though Cuvee Coffee was likely the first to serve it.
Wherever the inspiration came from, it was right on the money. Nitro cold brew quickly caught on, and it caught the attention of giants like Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Hortons. You can even get Starbucks nitro cold brew at your local coffee shop.
When Was Iced Coffee Invented?
The history of iced coffee is much more extensive. We can trace its origins back to Algeria in 1840, where the French Army drank a sweet drink called mazagran during the Battle of Mazagran.
Back then, it was a novel way for coffee-loving soldiers to beat the heat. They ended up adding water to it when they no longer had milk, and when they went back home to France, the drink was popularized in Paris.
Taste and Look of Nitro Cold Brew
The unique look and taste of nitro cold brew are undoubtedly what’s helped it become the drink of choice for many a coffee lover.
What Does Nitro Cold Brew Taste Like?
In a word, delicious. It’s smooth, and many describe the mouthfeel as silky. It’s also pretty low in acidity, which makes it easier to drink than traditional coffee. It also has a natural sweetness and is best enjoyed without sugar or cream.
How Should Nitro Cold Brew Look?
The best comparison is beer–nitro cold brew looks a heck of a lot like a freshly poured beer. And like its alcoholic counterpart, nitro is also served on tap. As the barista pours it, you can see the stunning cascade of coffee falling into the glass.
Caffeine Content in Nitro Cold Brew
Now it’s time to address the question you’re surely wondering: just how much of a caffeine kick will you get from nitro coffee?
How Much Caffeine Is in Nitro Cold Brew?
In general, there’s usually a lot more caffeine in nitrogen coffee than in regular coffee. The reason is that the nitro coffee process uses a higher ratio of coffee to water. Additionally, to make a cold brew, you have to steep the coffee beans for a long time, which tends to bring out more caffeine.
Some coffee companies claim that amounts to more than 30 percent more caffeine per ounce. The bottom line? Drink nitro brew at your own risk if you’re sensitive to caffeine (or if you need to get to bed soon).
Is Nitro Cold Brew Stronger Than Black Coffee?
Again, the amount of caffeine in nitrogen coffee can vary, but you can generally expect more of a kick from your nitro cold brew than your regular coffee.
Is Nitro Cold Brew Stronger Than Espresso?
Mostly, the flavor profile is different, as the nitro cold brew process produces a stronger coffee than espresso. You have to use double or triple the amount of coffee beans to make cold brew, which amounts to a stronger drink.
Is Nitro Healthier Than Normal Coffee?
Contrary to what savvy marketing says, nitro is not inherently healthier than regular coffee.
Some might argue that it’s healthier because most people enjoy it sans sugar or cream. The nitro infusion process gives the beverage a creamy, sweet feel, and the nitro foam makes it seem like the drink is sweeter than it is. And unlike black coffee, it’s easy for the average person to drink nitro coffee on its own.
Nitro cold brew could be an excellent swap for anyone who wants to cut down on cream and sugar without skimping on taste. But if you already regularly enjoy black coffee, there’s no reason to say that nitro is healthier.
It’s also worth noting that nitrogen coffee is an excellent swap for people with acid reflux, heartburn, or sensitive stomachs. It’s got low acidity, so it shouldn’t aggravate those conditions.
Does Nitro Infused Coffee Have Alcohol?
No, it doesn’t.
Lots of people mistakenly assume that it does, and it’s easy to see why. Like certain beers, nitrogen is used to make the coffee, which is probably where a lot of the confusion comes from. It’s also served from a tap and has a very similar texture and mouthfeel to beers like Guinness.
But rest assured that nitro cold brew doesn’t have alcohol–though maybe it would be cool if it did.
Is Nitro Cold Brew Bad for You?
On the contrary–nitrogen coffee can form part of any healthy diet.
It has nearly the exact same ingredient list as cold brew, or even regular coffee, and therefore the same benefits. You get the same antioxidants and micronutrients, as well as some protective benefits too–like a reduced risk of diabetes or depression symptoms, to name just a couple.
What Is the Difference Between Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew?
If you want to make nitro cold brew, you must first make cold brew. You can’t have the former without the latter. The difference between them lies purely in the nitrogen infused into the drink. All nitro is cold brew, but not all cold brew undergoes the nitro process.
Brewing Nitro Cold Brew
Given the popularity and a rather steep cost (it’s not uncommon to see it selling for $6 or $7 a cup), you may be wondering how feasible it is to brew nitro cold brew on your own.
Can You Make Nitro Coffee at Home?
Just a few years back, making nitro coffee at home was reserved for those who had the money to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. Thankfully, things look different now, and anyone interested can make their own at home using a mainstream nitro coffee maker.
There are two different kinds, keg style and whipper style, and they’ve made the process much easier than you might imagine. Now all you have to do is make the cold brew and put the mixture in your nitro coffee dispenser. It’s that easy!
Does Cold Brew Use Different Coffee Beans?
Choosing the right beans is critical no matter what kind of coffee you’re making. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you’re using the right beans for the type of coffee you want to make.
In the case of cold brew, you may want to switch things up a bit.
Our recommendation? Go with a dark roast and a coarse grind to extract the sweet flavors of the beans. Don’t worry about the age of the beans–it doesn’t matter too much for cold brew.
What Is Cold Brew Concentrate?
Cold-brew concentrate refers simply to cold brew. The steeping process involves roasting beans for several hours in cold water, which gives you the base for your nitro concoction.
Gear Needed to Make Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
If you already have a cold brew setup, you’re well on your way to making nitrogen coffee at home. The only other thing you need is a nitro coffee maker and a bit of patience–you’ll have to let your cold brew steep for several hours before you can infuse it.
There you have it–everything you need to know about nitro cold brew, the beverage revolutionizing the coffee world. It’s pretty exciting to see something like this, as it’s not often we see truly innovative coffee drinks.
Whether you’re interested in making it at home or want to find a healthier way to get your caffeine fix in the morning, nitro cold brew is well worth a try. Bottom’s up!