It was a sweltering summer afternoon I we first discovered the magic elixir known as nitro cold brew coffee. The heat had me craving a refreshing, chilled beverage. That's when I saw it - the sleek, dark swirls of nitro cold brew cascading into a glass, with a creamy froth forming at the top, mimicking a pint of Guinness, but this was coffee. The first sip was transformative - the velvety smooth texture, the robust flavors, and the delightful chill sent a wave of invigoration. The caffeine didn't hit us like a lightning bolt but rather seeped in gradually, keeping our energy levels elevated for hours. The love affair with nitro cold brew coffee began that summer afternoon, and it has only grown stronger with time. This isn't just a coffee; it's a sensory experience, a testament to the wonders of innovation in the world of coffee.

This innovative coffee is a unique combination of tradition and technology. Born from the timeless art of cold brewing, where coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for an extended period, this brew stands apart. The key difference is the introduction of nitrogen, a colorless, odorless gas. When infused into this cold brew, nitrogen imparts a creamy, velvety texture, resulting in a beverage that is as visually whimsical as it is delightfully flavorful.

I'm dedicating this article to this wonderful brew and am breaking down everything you need to know about it and how it came to be. Also, here's a link to my turtorial to help you make this full flavored brew at home: voltagecoffee.com/make-nitro-cold-brew-at-home/.

How It's Made

Nitro Cold Brew, as fascinating as its name suggests, is more than just an iced coffee. It is a cold brew coffee charged with nitrogen to give it a rich, creamy head, much like nitro draft beers like Guinness.

Making nitro cold brew doesn't require any specific type of bean or grind size. But like any full flavored coffee you want to use quality beans. The grind size should be coarse, similar to what you'd use for a French Press, which will yield a smoother, less acidic brew.

While traditional cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for up to 24 hours, Nitro Cold Brew takes this a step further. After the steeping process, the coffee is infused with nitrogen and stored in a keg. When served from the tap, it cascades into your glass with all the theater and intrigue of a pint of stout. The nitrogen infusion doesn't alter the inherent characteristics of the coffee but enhances the inherent sweetness of the coffee and imparts a miraculously smooth texture that dances on the palate. The result is a velvety, slightly sweet, and incredibly delicious beverage that has revolutionized the coffee industry. So, Nitro Cold Brew is not merely a type of coffee; it's a spectacle, a performance in a glass that leaves you with an unforgettable coffee experience.

Nitro cold brew is traditionally served and savored chilled, but you do hear about baristas experimenting with serving it hot. Heat does change the dynamics of the drink. When heated, nitrogen gas escapes faster from the coffee, potentially affecting the creamy mouthfeel and beautiful cascade that are the key characteristics of nitro cold brew.


See our complete tutorial on making delicious nitro cold brew coffee in the comfort of your own home.

Nitro vs Cold Brew

You may be wondering how nitro cold brew compares to traditional cold brew coffee. At their core, both these drinks spring from the same root - cold brewing. However, the introduction of nitrogen in Nitro Cold Brew necessitates a world of difference in taste and texture. Y With traditional cold brew, you're dumping course coffee grounds into cold filtered water and letting it sit for a day. But what makes nitro cold brew different is that it preserves the flavors of coffee more than the cold brew method does.

Tradtional Flavor Profile

Traditional Cold Brew Coffee is known for its smooth, low-acid profile with a sweet and slightly chocolaty flavor, depending on the coffee beans used. It is robust, full-bodied, and often has notes of fruit and chocolate, which become more pronounced due to the cold brewing process.

Nitro Flavor Profile

Nitro Cold Brew takes this flavor profile and adds an exciting twist. The nitrogen infusion doesn't alter the coffee's inherent flavors but enhances the coffee's inherent sweetness and provides a creamy, velvety texture. It might surprise you that the flavor profile of Nitro Cold Brew is often described as slightly sweet, even though no sugar is added. This is due to the influence of nitrogen, which brings out the natural sweetness of the coffee, resulting in a less bitter taste with a velvety texture, and subtly sweet flavor profile than traditional cold brew.

Caffeine levels are comparable between the both methods - which is much higher than traditional drip coffee.

where nitro coffee came from

Nitro Cold Brew History

The journey of Nitro Cold Brew is a fascinating tale of innovation and creativity. The concept of cold brewing coffee has roots stretching back centuries, famously used by Dutch traders in the 1600s to produce a coffee concentrate for their long sea voyages. However, the marriage of cold brew coffee with nitrogen is a far more recent phenomenon, tracing back to the innovative minds of craft beer brewers.

In the early 2010s, craft beer brewers began experimenting with nitrogen-infused beers, loved for their creamy mouthfeel and visually appealing cascade. Observing this, the innovative team at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon, had a lightbulb moment. Why not try infusing nitrogen into cold brew coffee? Thus, in 2013, the first Nitro Cold Brew was introduced, sparking a revolution in the coffee world.

The unique presentation and sensory experience of Nitro Cold Brew quickly caught the attention of coffee enthusiasts and baristas alike. Its popularity skyrocketed, and by 2016, even big chains like Starbucks began serving nitro cold brew across their stores. The success of Nitro Cold Brew has been monumental, and it continues to captivate the coffee industry, inspiring further exploration into the potential of nitrogen-infused beverages.

From its conception in a Portland coffee shop to its ubiquitous presence in cafes worldwide, Nitro Cold Brew has truly made its mark in contemporary coffee culture. Today, it's not just seen as a product, but as an experience — an inventive intersection of science and tradition that continues to push the boundaries of what we expect from a cup of coffee.

Back in 2013 is when the very first nitro cold brew coffee was made. It was a guarded secret that the owner of Cuvee Coffee in Austin Texas wanted to keep from everyone. Just like every good chef keeps their secret recipe from getting out, Mike was not giving up his secret so easily. All we knew is that it has been infused with nitrogen to get that creamy texture. But there was something more that we didn't know, so we did some digging and found out some facts. Unlike regular cold brew coffee, there was an ingredient that we didn't want in our coffee that was making it taste different.

The ingredient was oxygen, and it's supposed to make your coffee taste stale. Nitrogen is known for pushing that oxygen out of the way so that you get a fresher cup of cold brew coffee.

Nitro Cold Brew has come a long way since its humble beginnings in Portland and continues to evolve as an innovative and exciting drink in the coffee world. So next time you see a Nitro Cold Brew on the menu, remember its rich history and savor every sip of this delicious beverage. And if you're feeling adventurous, why not try making your own at home with our easy-to-follow tutorial?

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