What Is Nitro Coffee? And Why is Nitrogen Being Used in Coffee

What Is Nitro Coffee?
Enjoy the 5 min read!

Over the past couple of years, a fresh coffee trend has sprung up in the realm of cold brew and it has taken coffee lovers by storm everywhere. I love a cold brew, whether it’s hot or a cold day, I like to drink in excess and quench my thirst in ice cubes.

As a cold brew enthusiast, there’s that lingering hesitation about nitro. We’ve all seen it, so let’s discuss nitro coffee.

You may hear it mentioned at your gym or in your favorite coffee shop but not everyone is aware of what it is or why there’s excitement around it. 

The definition of nitro coffee

NCB or nitro coffee is a different type of cold brew coffee that is infused with nitrogen gas to achieve a unique mouthfeel and flavor. It’s mostly served on tap and the beverage was first served on tap at around 2012. It was available on the shelves in the form of cans in 2014. Its popularity has skyrocketed ever since which is the reason why you can find it in practically any specialty coffee shop around.

Want to learn the actual history of coffee?

Origin of nitro

Who exactly started this trend? The most common story you are likely to hear is Austin Texas’s Mike McKim the founder of Cuvée Coffee began things and was closely followed by Portland Oregon’s Stumptown.

However, as mentioned by the Esquire magazine The Queens Kickshaw should receive the credit for the origin of this trend. This New York coffee pub initially began serving their cold brew through the draft system in 2011.

Whoever created it, of whether you want to debate who you think should be credited for this trend. It’s a must-try drink for any coffee lovers out there.

Why nitrogen is being used?

As gas nitrogen is tasteless and odorless making it more difficult to infuse in liquids than CO2. If you’re imagining fizzy coffee now you are advised to understand that’s not quite how this works. Both the texture and the flavor of coffee benefit by the added nitrogen. However, instead of making it crackly like carbonated drinks nitrogen makes the drinks foamier.

This difference gives the coffee a velvety texture similar to a frothy beer. The nitrogen makes what is essentially black coffee taste and feel like you have already added cream and sugar to it. Coffee lovers find this an exciting prospect.

Gassing it

People may have been startled when hearing nitrogen was being added to their drinks initially, but the idea of gassing up drinks isn’t exactly a new invention. Many of us have done it in science class in school by throwing dry ice in some.

Adding gas to obtain a little pizazz to drinks like soda, sparkling water, or even beer is not new. It is just the nitrogen which is different simply because you do not see as often. However, some beer brands are acknowledged to use it.

How it’s served

Nitro coffee brew has a unique combination making it a necessity to serve it rather uniquely. Just a few companies have unlocked the secret for canning it but the experience between canned and fresh is still considerable.

On tap

Nitrogen gas is difficult to keep in liquids and therefore nitro coffee ends up being served typically on tap. The foam dissolving is giving this coffee it’s signature texture, just like beer. A dispenser is needed to create the pressure for adding nitrogen to the beverage.

Unfortunately, this also indicates it is pretty difficult to make a nitro brew at home because it requires specialized equipment.

Toppings? Add a little oomph

Nitrogen providing the drink a natural sweetness, there are many out there who are still looking forward to more oomph. Instead of adding sugar to the beverage, many sweet tooth owners prefer to add other tasty add-ins for enhancing their nitro coffee experience.

Some of the popular additions include:

Vanilla syrup and sweet cream

But some coffee shops have chosen to go the extra mile with their addons.

For example, Mighty Brew Bros in Manhattan has created the Nitro Pop and the Nitro Float. The first variety coffee popsicle and the second has vanilla ice cream included. Coffee nitro float?

If you are already a fan of nitro coffee you can try one of these exciting combos to receive even more out of the drink.

Why the hype?

Think of Starbucks, for them to look for equipment, the process, the popularity, the demand, the extra room to have a keg of nitro coffee in their space, does say a lot. Along with fitness studios, it’s not a fad, it’s here to stay.

Coffee shops

Boasting about their specific beans and blends is a popular pastime amongst many coffee shops because plenty of thought goes into their selection. That’s why the nitro brewery is growing. With each dependent method and technique rather than just beans or blending means it can be offered by virtually any shop simply by purchasing some extra equipment. It’s a new playing field.

Health Conscious

Fitness fans have taken a liking to this cold brew because of its flavor and chillness. The nitrogen can create a natural flavor that hints at sweetness allowing many of the fanatics to drink it straight. The chillness of this brew makes it less acidic to make it easier on digestive systems.

Also, nitro in a can is available with several different blends like nut milk blends saturated with healthy fats because it helps to keep the nitrous oxide in the drink. The health-conscious ingredients and great taste have both drawn plenty of attention from coffee lovers.

Wrapping up

If you haven’t tasted nitro cold brew, what’s holding you back? I’m not saying get with the program, but it doesn’t hurt to try. The very experience of drinking black coffee that tastes and feels like a sweetened creamy breakfast is not something that no black coffee enthusiast would pass, even for me.