Nitro coffee? Unless you’re already familiar with the bubbly, warm, and gaseous coffee brew, then you’re right in wondering if we’re talking about some sort of super charged drink from the future!
Okay, it sure sounds like it’s from the realm of science fiction or laboratory experiments, but nitro coffee is very much the next big thing in cold brew coffee. In fact, it’s already a big thing in some parts of the country, where the big coffee chains are getting on board to make this unique drink less novelty and more mainstream.
But what is nitro cold brew? It’s basically cold brew coffee that’s been infused with nitrogen. And why and how would nitrogen be pumped into coffee? Keep reading, and we’ll explain everything you need to know about nitro coffee!
Nitro coffee is the shortened name that’s been given by coffee lovers to nitrogen-infused coffee. And it’s exactly what the name suggests. Nitrogen is pumped into coffee, creating a unique, distinct, and absolutely delicious coffee brew.
Perhaps more accurately, it should be called cold brew nitro, or nitro cold brew coffee. To prepare the brew, you need to start with cold brew coffee. Hot coffee just doesn’t do. Nor does hot brew coffee.
In fact, cold brews are very different to standard hot brews, and they should not be confused with an iced coffee (where coffee that has been brewed hot is poured over ice). A cold brew is created by leaving coffee beans in cold water to brew. This is a process that takes a minimum of 12 hours to properly accomplish.
The long, drawn out brewing process results in a cold brew that’s very different in flavor to the hot coffee you might prepare at home with a classic pour-over coffee maker. Cold brews are much less acidic and much smoother than hot brews.
To make nitro brew coffee, the cold brew coffee is then infused with nitrogen (N2) bubbles. This, of course, needs special equipment, not too dissimilar to the equipment used to pump beers or to carbonate soft drinks.
The nitrogen adds a new level of thickness to the cold brew, resulting in a deliciously creamy and smooth coffee that’s often described as being the Guinness of coffee brews. Nitro coffees are so creamy, in fact, that there’s no need to add milk to the brew; it’s simply enjoyed straight.
As you might imagine, it’s a unique drink, but it’s not quick or cheap to produce!
That sounds great, you might be thinking. Who wouldn’t want to try an outrageously creamy and thick coffee? If you love dark craft beers or stouts, then this is literally the coffee equivalent!
But is it safe to pump nitrogen into coffee? Yes. Actually, we pump different types of gas into drinks all the time.
Liquid nitrogen is needed to achieve this, and while this can be dangerous on its own if not handled correctly, the nitrogen is perfectly safe once infused into the cold brew coffee. The infusion is created using pressurized nozzles, exactly the same way that coca-cola is given an infusion of carbon dioxide.
This process is unique when it comes to coffee brewing, however, which is one reason why nitro coffee has gained popularity quickly. In the coffee shop, pouring a nitro coffee is a beautiful (if foamy) process to watch (it’s like watching a beer being poured rather than a coffee being brewed!).
The problem with it, however, is that it’s not easy to prepare. Nitro cold brew has become popular in coffee shops, but it’s not taken off quite so quickly at home!
That’s because you do need some special equipment to get started. For coffee shops, the investment is quite large, and they need to also train up their baristas to use the equipment. Cold brews alone are already more expensive due to the time it takes to prepare them, and that’s before you start infusing them with nitrogen!
Increasingly, nitro cold brew has become available in keg or can form; exactly the same way that beer is sold. However, if that’s not good enough for you, then you can prepare your own nitro cold brew at home.
Remember, you’ll need to leave your coffee to brew cold for at least 12 hours (and up to 24 hours if possible), before you turn it into nitro. Cold brews are simple to prepare (just prepare like normal coffee, only with cold water); they are just time-consuming.
Once you have your cold brew ready, you then need a pressurized device to inject the nitrogen into the coffee. Rather than investing in a carbonator, though, you can create the same effect using liquid nitrogen canisters and a whipped cream dispenser!
It takes a little practice, though, to get the perfect cold brew and nitrogen infusion. If you have the time, though, then it can save you a lot of money preparing it at home (nitro brews will cost a premium in your local coffee shops!).
Admittedly, this coffee is much more difficult (not to mention time consuming!) to prepare in comparison to a regular cup of hot coffee. It’s not as simple as pouring hot water over coffee grounds, that’s for sure!
There are, however, a lot of advantages to drinking nitro brews over regular coffee, particularly once you’ve mastered the art of home nitro brewing. For starters, the taste is unique. This isn’t a regular coffee, and you’ll love the creamy, smooth brew, particularly if you’re not a fan of bitter brews.
The lack of acidity is also to be welcomed (and not just for the different taste), especially so if you’re prone to stomach upsets, indigestion, or acid reflux. The natural creaminess of a nitro brew ensures that you can enjoy it as a dairy free drink, too. If you’re plant-based or have a dairy intolerance, then what more could you want from your coffee?
Now you know exactly ‘what is a nitro cold brew,’ and we highly recommend that you try this innovative coffee at the next opportunity!
If you’re a big fan of this coffee, then it’s worth investing your time in learning how to brew them at home. Why not bookmark our guide, and start brewing your own nitrogen infused coffee?
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