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What Is Nitro Coffee? Presentation + Easy 3 Steps Recipe

What Is Nitro Coffee

What Is Nitro Coffee

What Is Nitro Coffee: You might not have noticed nitro cold brew coffee on your favorite coffee shop’s menu just yet, but it’s gaining popularity fast. Introduced in 2012, this innovative way of enjoying coffee is becoming increasingly common, with even major chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ offering their own versions.

But what exactly is nitro cold brew? How is it crafted? What sets it apart in terms of taste? And most importantly, should you give it a try? We’re here to address all your questions and provide you with the answers you need.

What Is Nitro Coffee?

Nitro coffee is essentially cold brew coffee that has been infused with nitrogen, a gas that is colorless and odorless.

While the idea of adding gas to cold beverages might seem unusual, it’s actually quite common. Carbon dioxide, for example, is what gives soda its bubbly texture, hence the term “carbonated.”

Nitrogen has already found popularity in certain beers, with Guinness being one of the most well-known examples. Instead of being called “carbonated,” these beers are often referred to as “nitrogenated.” Interestingly, many nitro beers and stouts incorporate the rich flavors of coffee into their brews.

Given this connection, it’s not surprising that someone eventually realized the creamy head of a nitrogenated beer like Guinness would complement cold brew coffee perfectly. As a result, nitro coffee has swiftly become a favorite among specialty coffee enthusiasts.

Similar to beer, nitrogenated coffee is best served “on-tap.” The nitrogen-infused cold brew is dispensed from a keg through a pressurized valve with tiny holes, resulting in its signature smooth and creamy texture.

What Does It Taste Like?

What Is Nitro Coffee: The taste of nitro cold brew varies depending on the type of coffee beans used, but it typically exhibits certain characteristics. Like regular cold brew, nitrogen-infused coffee is exceptionally smooth and less acidic, but it boasts a distinctively silky texture.

This unique mouthfeel is attributed to the fact that nitrogen gas doesn’t dissolve in liquids as readily as carbon dioxide does, resulting in much smaller bubbles in nitrogen-infused beverages.

“Since nitrogen doesn’t dissolve in water until it is pressurized, it forms very small bubbles, which do not change the taste of the coffee but do affect the texture. It becomes creamy.” – Josh Bloom, American Council of Science and Health

Many nitro coffee enthusiasts prefer to drink it black, either straight or over ice. The nitrogen gas contributes a subtle sweetness to the coffee’s flavor and a creamy texture, making it unnecessary to add sugar or dairy. However, for those with a preference for sweeter options, some cafes offer nitro coffee enhanced with sweet cream or flavored syrups like vanilla.

At establishments such as the Manhattan coffee shop Mighty Brew Bros, nitro coffee is even used in cocktails like the nitro pina colada and paired with vanilla ice cream in a nitro float. Owner Josh Kim notes that nitrogen-infused coffee blends well with various flavors, enhancing its versatility compared to other coffees.

What Does It Look Like?

What Is Nitro Coffee: Numerous Third Wave coffee shops capitalize on the visual allure of nitrogenated coffee, promoting and retailing it for its captivating appearance. When dispensed from a tap, it creates a stunning coffee cascade characterized by swirling bubbles, an aesthetically pleasing spectacle. This cascade effect is facilitated by the minuscule size of the nitrogen bubbles, allowing the liquid to effortlessly maneuver them around the glass.

Once the mesmerizing display subsides, nitro cold brew closely resembles its beer counterpart, exhibiting a frothy head atop a dark, rich liquid.

How Much Caffeine Is in Nitro Cold Brew?

Nitro coffee packs a higher caffeine punch than its hot counterpart due to its cold brew base. Cold brew is prepared with a concentrated coffee-to-water ratio, resulting in a brew that’s more caffeinated than an equivalent volume of hot coffee made from the same beans. The nitrogenation process doesn’t alter the caffeine content.

The exact caffeine concentration in nitro cold brew varies depending on the coffee and recipe. For instance, a grande-sized Starbucks nitro cold brew contains approximately 280 mg of caffeine, surpassing the caffeine content of a grande hot brewed coffee at 260 mg. Conversely, a grande Starbucks cold brew, which includes ice, offers 205 mg of caffeine.

Is Nitrogen-Infused Coffee Better For You?

What Is Nitro Coffee: Increasingly, nitrogen-infused coffee is being marketed to gym-goers as a healthier alternative to traditional coffee. Many high-end gyms now offer it on tap.

The health claims stem from the fact that infusing a drink with nitrogen imparts a natural sweetness and inherent creaminess. The nitro foam hits the tongue in particular places that give the perception of sweetness without the addition of sugar – or the added calories. For those accustomed to doctoring their morning coffee with high-calorie cream and sugar, nitrogenated coffee offers a gateway to low-calorie black coffee.

Additionally, its higher caffeine content than standard coffee makes it an excellent pre-workout choice for an energy boost.

Nitro Cold Brew Has Lower Acidity

Nitro cold brew, like all cold brew, has less acidity than hot coffee, benefitting coffee drinkers with sensitive stomachs or prone to heartburn and acid reflux. The brewing method significantly influences the acidity level. Cold brewing extracts fewer acids compared to hot brewing methods, resulting in a smoother and less bitter taste.

Can You Make Nitro Coffee At Home?

Nitrogen-enriched cold brew can be pricey, but there are options for making it at home. Some shops offer ready-made canned nitro brew, while others invest in dedicated nitro brew coffee makers. For most home enthusiasts, a whipped cream dispenser with a nitrogen cartridge provides a more affordable option for enjoying nitro cold brew without leaving the house.

Nitro Cold Brew Ingredients
– 12 ounces homemade or storebought cold brew
– Whipped cream dispenser
– Nitrous oxide or nitrogen cartridge

At A Glance
– Brew Time: 5 minutes
– Yield: One serving

Should I Use N2 Or N2O To Make Nitro Brew?

What Is Nitro Coffee: You can use either N2 (nitrogen gas) or N2O (nitrous oxide) to make nitro cold brew; both are safe and effective. N2O cartridges, commonly used for whipped cream, are often more readily available and less expensive. However, nitrogen cartridges produce smaller bubbles, resulting in a smoother, creamier drink. If you can find it, N2 is the preferred choice.

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

Here’s an easy recipe for making cold coffee infused with nitrogen gas:

Step 1: Make Or Buy Cold Brew

If you have the time, it’s recommended to make your own cold brew for a more personalized flavor. Simply steep coarsely ground coffee beans in cold filtered water for 12-24 hours, then strain out the grounds using cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Dilute the resulting concentrate with equal parts water before nitrogenating. Alternatively, store-bought cold brew or coffee concentrate can be used if time is limited.

Step 2: Infuse The Coffee With Nitrogen

Pour your cold brew into the whipped cream dispenser and charge it with one nitrogen or nitrous oxide cartridge. Shake the dispenser for about 30 seconds to infuse the coffee with gas. Discharge the gas, invert the canister, and dispense the creamy coffee into a chilled glass.

Pro tip: Pre-chill your glass in the freezer to keep your nitro coffee cold without diluting it with ice. Alternatively, use coffee ice cubes made from brewed coffee for all your chilled coffee beverages.

Step 3: Serve And Enjoy

What Is Nitro Coffee: For the purest experience, try your nitro coffee black to appreciate its natural sweetness and velvety texture. If you prefer a more indulgent drink, create a frothy topping by whipping ¼ cup cold skim milk with 1 teaspoon vanilla syrup and spooning it over your brew.

Final Thoughts

Nitro infused coffee is cold brew infused with nitrogen gas, offering a sweet, creamy, and velvety version of the traditional cold brew. Whether you’re seeking a healthier coffee option or simply a refreshing twist on a classic beverage, give this innovative coffee a try!


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