What is Nitro Coffee Anyway? A Basic Introduction

What is Nitro Coffee

With spring upon us and summer coming soon, many people are looking to turn in their hot espressos for cold coffees. Nitro coffee is rising in popularity when it comes to cold brew methods. It can now be found at grocery and convenience stores as well as some of your favorite coffee shops. In stores, you will find nitro coffee in cans or growlers. Coffee shops usually store them in a pressurized keg and it is served on tap.

What is Nitro Coffee Exactly?

Nitro coffee is a cold brew coffee that receives its signature taste by infusing coffee with nitrogen. The nitrogen affects both the texture and taste. Unlike other cold blends that take cream or sugar, nitro coffee comes out creamy and sweet without additives. The pressurization creates a glass of cold coffee that is strong, finished with a layer of foam, and moving with streams of small bubbles similar to champagne.

Nitro Coffee is a Healthy Summer Alternative

Even devoted sugar and cream people tend to pass on both when they taste the sweet, creamy flavor of nitro coffee. A glass of nitro coffee, even from mainstream coffee shops, usually racks in at about 5 calories, the same as a black cup of coffee. This is an excellent replacement if you are looking to get back in shape for summer. Say no to the candied, hot comfort beverages of winter and try out a glass of nitro coffee.

Why Does Nitro Coffee Look Like Guinness?

Due to the sweet, filling, bubbling texture of Nitro coffee, most people compare it to beer. In fact, if you were uncertain of what it was, it would be easy to mistake the coffee for Guinness. This is because, when the coffee is infused with nitrogen, the light and dark elements separate and a creamy head foams up at the top. The same process is actually used for Guinness which is why it comes out looking so similar.

The nice thing about Nitro coffee is that it has the same filling effect a cold draft would, without the unnecessary calories. When ordering one from a cafe, ask to skip the straw and lid. It is natural for your barista to top your glass off like they would any other cold brew, but the truth is, if you drink it with the straw and lid, you’ll miss the creamy, sweet layer of foam on top.

How Can I Make a Similar Coffee at Home?

Keg Storm Mini
Nitro coffee is called so because of the nitrogen infusion. This is something most of us cannot do from our home. There are a few smaller home versions, however, the steep price point makes them a bit unrealistic for all but the most dedicated nitro enthusiasts. It also means dealing with disposable nitrous cartridges and dispensing your coffee from a keg that would be right at home in a frat house. Not necessarily in keeping with your sleek French press!

However, there is a way to create a strong, cold brew using a pour over method known as the “Japanese Iced Coffee.” When making your coffee at home, use the same amount of coffee grounds you would normally. Instead of adding the normal amount of water, replace one-third of what you would use with ice. This will create a cold brew faster than most other methods.

Unfortunately, this method from home will not give you the same experience as a Nitro coffee from a cafe. It will lack the bubbly effect and creamy head that can only come from the nitrogen infusion.

What are Some of the Brands of Nitro Coffee I can Buy from the Store?

Rise Nitro Coffee
There are many different kinds of Nitro coffee readily available in stores on the West Coast.

    1. Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee – Based out of Austin, this was the first nitro cold brew available on the market in a can. The company suggests trying it with vanilla ice cream this summer for an extra treat.
    2. Rise Brewing Co. Rise Brewing Co. offers a line of canned nitro-infused cold brew that comes in different flavors. Some of the choices include Original Black, Lemonade, and Blood Orange.

Nitro coffee is a sweet, low-cal, and cool alternative for your summer caffeine needs. Pop into your local coffee shop or grab a few cans to keep in the fridge at home and enjoy this refreshing twist on an old classic!

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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