What on Earth Is Nitro Coffee: Is Really Better Than Cold Brew?
Nitro coffee is becoming one of the more popular cold brew coffee-based drinks on the market today. It is more widely available than ever in supermarkets, specialty coffee shops, and even big chains like Starbucks.
But, is nitro coffee really worth all the hype? How does it taste, and is it actually any better than a regular cold brew? We’ll let’s find out!
What Is Nitro Coffee?
The word ‘Nitro’ comes from the fact that nitrogen is added to regular cold brew coffee to give the drink a more creamy texture.
But, why would you want nitrogen in your coffee in the first place…
Well, the most common gas that is added to drinks is carbon dioxide. This gives sodas, beers, and sparkling wines their fizz.
However, when you add nitrogen to a liquid, the bubbles do not dissolve as quickly compared to carbonated drinks, so you get a much smoother drinking experience.
One of the most popular ‘nitrogenated’ drinks is… Guinness.
The smooth, creamy, almost thick texture of Guinness is loved by millions of people all over the world. It is no wonder then that over the past decade or so, coffee lovers decided to add nitrogen to their favorite dark, earthy drink too!
Other beverages that have been given the nitro treatment include:
- Nitro Tea
- Nitro Pepsi
- Nitro Cocktails
- Nitro Beer
- Nitro Cocoa.
How is Nitro Coffee Made?
Just like a stout that is poured at your local watering hole, nitro coffee is always going to be served out of a tap!
The pressurized gas is pumped into the already brewed coffee, which combines to give the coffee a much richer, velvety texture.
The actual method and process involved in making nitro coffee are not particularly complicated, but it does require a few important steps to be followed for the best results.
So, rather than detail these step by step here, take a look at the Youtube video below.
Here’s a great video by The Homebrew Challenge showing how nitro coffee is made.
So, the question still remains, is nitro coffee really any better than a cold brew?
How Nitro Coffee Compares to Cold Brew
Nitro coffee is a funky take on regular cold brew, which promises to be more luxurious, and is often considered a more up-market drink.
Much like with drinking a stout, nitro coffee is best thought of as a long drink, rather than a cold brew that you may sip as to quench your thirst on a hot day.
When I say a long drink, this does not necessarily mean you’ll take a longer time to drink it overall. I mean the nitro will often be rolled around in the mouth for longer, to experience the full-mouth feel of that sumptuous, smooth coffee.
On the other hand, a cold brew is more of a refreshing drink that is still sipped thoughtfully but not necessarily mulled over like a good stout or glass of wine for example.
Nitro coffee is generally considered to have a greater sense of occasion than cold brew, due to its silky smooth texture and mouthfeel.
As far as preparation goes, both cold brew and nitro coffee start with coarsely ground, high-quality coffee beans.
There are a number of dedicated cold brew coffee brands out there, check out the most popular ones on Amazon here!
These are added to a glass or container with ice and cold filtered water and allowed to steep from anywhere between 12 and 24 hours generally.
In general, you’ll want a 1:4 or 1:5 coffee-to-filtered water ratio for your cold brew coffee for the best results. Simply stir up the coffee to make sure all of the grounds are submerged in the water.
Once the coffee is brewed overnight, it needs to be filtered.
The first thing to do here is simply pass your coffee-infused sludge through a sieve or basic coffee filter to catch the majority of the coffee grounds. This will leave you with a cold brew that is free from most sediment but will still need to be filtered more finely.
For this, I recommend using a V60 with filter paper just to make sure you are getting the cleanest and smoothest cold-brew coffee possible!
At this point, you can decide to serve your coffee as it is, or water it down slightly if it is a bit strong for your liking. But, as far as your cold brew coffee is concerned, this is your final product! Simply serve with ice and a straw in a glass and you’re done!
Now we take things to the next level and continue the preparation for the silky smooth alternative: Nitro coffee.
Once you have your cold brew coffee, the next step is to add nitrogen!
There are a few different ways this is done, depending on whether the coffee is being brewed in a factory, at a coffee shop, or at home.
But, effectively cold brew coffee is then pumped with liquid nitrogen (a notoriously difficult thing to do), into a pressurized keg or barrel ready for serving.
Once the nitro coffee is ready, it is served in a glass using a filtered spout, just like pulling a Guinness at a bar!
Letting it settle is the key, as we want that rich, creamy foam to rise to the top of the glass and offer a sumptuous velvety texture!
As far as taste is concerned, regular cold brew coffee is refreshing, thirst-quenching, and punchy. The fact that coarse coffee grounds have been steeped for an extended period of time means your coffee will be strong.
Adding a splash of milk or sweetener of your choice to make your cold brew a more palatable experience if needed, and you’re sorted!
However, nitro coffee is creamier, thicker, and smoother than regular cold brew coffee. There is also a deeper flavor because the coffee is less watered down, so nitro coffee tends to taste stronger and has a higher caffeine content than cold brew.
Also, because nitro coffee is much creamier and richer than regular cold brew, you’ll feel less need to add your own cream, milk, or sweetener. This also makes it great if you are on a diet and want a more satiating, satisfying drink that will not only quench your thirst but also make your taste buds happy!
Is Nitro Coffee Really Worth It?
The big question is, should you really go ahead and order a nitro coffee over a regular cold brew on your next visit to your local barista…
Well, given how rich, creamy, and smooth nitro coffee is, I would say it is definitely worth a try!
Be aware that there is a definite texture and taste difference between a nitro coffee and a regular cold brew that is not to everyone’s taste. But, if you like cold brew coffee and are looking to try something different, then nitro coffee may well be up your street!
Where to Buy Nitro Coffee
Many local coffee shops and even mainstream chains like Starbucks and Dunkin sell nitro coffee in their stores.
But, you can also browse Nitro Coffee Options Here on Amazon.
Overall, nitro coffee is a fast-growing trend amongst coffee lovers that everyone should try at least once! It is a smooth, rich, dark, and earthy drink that takes cold brew coffee to a whole new place.
Whilst making nitro coffee from home is nowhere near as easy as making a great iced americano, trying one at your local coffee shop not only supports the community around you but also broadens your coffee horizons!
Is Nitro Coffee Different from Cold Brew?
Yes! Nitro coffee is made using regular cold brew, but this is then combined with nitrogen to produce a velvety smooth, rich, and creamy cold coffee that is delicious.
Can You Make Nitro Coffee From Home?
Whilst brewing nitro coffee from home is doable, it is pretty expensive compared to regular coffee. However, if you want to give it a try, here are some of the best Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Makers on Amazon.
What Does Nitro Coffee Taste Like?
Nitro coffee is a little stronger and more earthy than a normal cold brew as far as taste goes, but the main difference is in the texture. In the mouth, nitro coffee is a lot richer, creamier, and more smooth than cold brew coffee.
Is Nitro Coffee Good for You?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, nitro coffee is actually considered more healthy than even regular cold brew by some coffee enthusiasts. This is because the extra creaminess and richness that the nitrogen provides acts as a substitute for cream or milk, therefore reducing the overall calories needed to have a velvets smooth coffee experience.
Does Nitro Coffee Have More Caffeine?
Whilst it is difficult to put an exact figure on it, in general, yes nitro coffee does have more caffeine than regular iced coffee or cold brew. This is because there is a higher concentration of coffee to water used to make cold brew in the first place. Therefore, caffeine content tends to be higher in nitro coffee.