Coffee is one of the most versatile beverages in the world. There are so many different ways to create a cup of Joe – and coffee connoisseurs will argue about which way is really the best way to roast and brew. But while most coffee brewing methods have been around for decades, or even hundreds of years, nitro brew coffee is one of the latest – and trendiest – options.
Nitro coffee (or nitrogenated coffee, as it is formally known) has had a 300% boost in availability in coffee shops in the US since 2016. It was first made at Cuvee Coffee in Austin, TX by baristas who wanted to experiment with using the beer keg system to create coffee. It started to spread to their other locations as well as coffee shops in Portland, Oregon.
Soon, this drink became so popular that it spread nationwide. You may have noticed it on the menu of your local café, as well as mainstream coffee shops which now offer it on tap.
So, what is nitro coffee exactly, and just what is the reason behind the boom in nitro coffee popularity?
A. What is So Special About Nitro Coffee?
Simply put, nitro coffee is simply coffee with nitrogen bubbles infused into the brew. Nitro coffee is a type of cold brew and is served through a kegerator system, like beer on tap.
The first step to creating nitro coffee is to create a traditional cold brew by steeping grinds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. The coffee is then poured into a keg container, which is hooked up to a Nitro Infuser. This slowly infuses nitrogen bubbles from compacted canisters into the keg through a kegerator system
This creates pressure inside of the keg, so the nitro coffee can be easily poured through a tap system. This also prevents any oxygen from entering into the keg, so the brew stays fresh for much longer than a typical batch of cold brew coffee.
B. What’s the Difference Between Nitro Coffee vs Regular Cold Brew?
First, let’s start with the most notable similarities between a traditional cold brew and nitro coffee. Both start off with the exact same brewing process of steeping beans in cold water. This process also reduces acidity levels by 70% compared to traditional hot drip coffee. For this reason, people with stomach issues and sensitivity often prefer to drink cold brews.
But there are some key differences between nitro coffee vs regular cold brew. The most obvious one is the taste. Traditional cold brew has an intense flavor since the beans are steeped for such a long time.
The taste of nitro coffee on the other hand is subtler and more robust because of the nitrogen bubbles. This adds a slightly sweet and rich flavor to the brew, along with a creamier mouthfeel.
C. Why Does Nitro Cold Brew Taste Different?
Two reasons why nitro cold brew is so appealing are because of the visual appearance and taste profiles the process creates. Directly after it is dispensed from the keg, it has a dense appearance with a natural golden color and a thick foam at the top. You may also see the tiny nitrogen bubbles rising to the top.
The extremely small nitrogen bubbles in the liquid create a naturally smooth, soft drinking texture. When nitrogen is added to coffee, it helps to reduce the natural bitterness from the beans as well as the acidity. This makes the coffee taste naturally sweet and creamy – but no milk or sugar needs to be added.
D. Where Can I Get Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
Although nitro cold brew has been growing in popularity at an overwhelming fast rate, it is not always easy to find. Only about 50% of cafes in the US have it on their menus, although major chains like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks offer it at most of their locations.
One of the reasons why it is a rare offering is because of the specific types of equipment needed to create the cold brew. A specific kegerator system is needed to create nitro cold brew and not every coffee shop has one.
One alternative here that some coffee shops and stores offer is canned nitro cold brew. While this option will work in a pinch, it is different than a fresh pour. It’s similar to a pint of beer. Doesn’t it seem to taste better when it’s poured right from the tap as compared to the canned version?
But what many café owners and coffee drinkers alike do not realize is that having nitro cold brew on tap is easier than you may think.
E. How Can I Get Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
A nitro cold brew coffee maker system involves multiple parts, including:
- Keg container
- Nitrogen infuser
- AfterBurner, which helps re-infuse the brew with nitrogen before it exits the tap
- Nitrogen regulator
- Gas connectors and hose
- Tap column
Ready to Learn More?
Who wouldn’t be craving a cup of sweet, smooth nitro cold brew after reading this? If you’d like to have this option offered in your business or café, please reach out to our team at Enhanced Beverage Solutions. We like to consider ourselves the nitro coffee experts – so we can answer any questions you have about our system.