Does the thought of a less acidic coffee with the foam of craft beer excite you? If yes, you might, like myself, fall in love with Nitro cold brew.

It's basically a cold brew coffee infused (charged) with nitrogen, a colorless and odorless type of gas. 

This nitrogen coffee drink is a fairly new phenomenon, first appearing around 2010. I hope that this article will explain to you why cold brew Nitro is a boom and it even has its health benefits.


What does Nitro cold brew taste like?

Creamy, yet fizzy. Some drinks are fizzy thanks to the carbon dioxide. The velvety Nitro cold brew coffee is infused with nitrogen (usually used to make juice, bottled water, beer...) and it has a creamy head and thick feel. It is brewed at lower temperatures and therefore is less acidic.

And yes, just like with beer, you can feel the fizziness, somewhat similar to Guinness or another dark stout. It is even served from a keg or a tap. Or conveniently — bottled.

However, Nitro cold brew does not contain alcohol, if you sneakily do not add it and create, for example, Kahlúa Nitro cold brew drink or a bourbon one.

You can do many things with Cold brew itself, which I already covered in the previous article. However, these two coffee creations are different.

What is the difference between cold brew and Nitro cold brew?

Let´s start with similarities:

  • both never come in contact with hot water during the brewing process
  • both are brewed at lower temperatures
  • process of making both cold brew and Nitro cold brew takes a longer time
  • both are less acidic, with a more smooth and nutty linger
  • medium roast is the best for both
  • coarse grind — always!
  • both are suitable for calorie-conscious people (and can be enjoyed without milk or sugar. For most people, they even ruin the characteristic, nice taste of cold brew)
  • both are ideal for people that do not like black coffee
  • both are the ideal choice for people that struggle with acid reflux
  • both are great summer drinks
  • both can be sold bottled or canned, even at Starbucks coffee chain. By the way, did you know that the world's biggest Starbucks is located in Tokyo, Japan, where Nitro coffee originates?
  • both can be made into cocktails or mocktails. There are even Nitro coffee ciders and one of the most popular coffee drinks on the menu of previously mentioned Starbucks is The Barrel-Aged Cold Brew.
  • both can be higher in caffeine (depends on how you drink or dilute them)
  • both are on the pricier side, but you definitely get a bang for your buck
  • BUT: the demand for both keeps growing. Get on the cold brew train!

And differences?

  • The cold brew coffee has its history, it originates in Kyoto, Japan (kudos to 17th-century Dutch traders)
  • Nitro coffee was introduced to the coffee community in the early 2010s and the origin is a mystery. Some say it is New York, some say Oregon, others say Texas
  • Nitro cold brew coffee is made with nitrogen, that gives it more fizz and foamy crema
  • It is usually made as cold brew, then poured into a keg
  • Because of this, most people do not have the tools to make Nitro cold brew at home. However, some companies, such as Micro Matic, Joe Tap, or GrowlerWerks make coffee machines specifically for serving Nitro cold brew coffee in the comfort of your own home, indoors, or outdoors. Perfect for summer!
  • When making cold brew - you make a coffee concentrate first, that you have to dilute (using ice, cold or hot water, milk…) - although many people drink Nitro coffee as it is. It is smooth, creamy, and less bitter than the traditional coffee they are used to
  • Despite the name, cold brew concentrate can be made into a hot cold brew coffee.
  • Nitro cold brew is richer in taste and foamy in texture

Basically, if you just separate the coffee grounds from the liquid and serve, you are serving cold brew! If you put it in a keg and charge with nitrogen, that’s nitro cold brew. My choice is cold brew coffee at home, nitro cold brew coffee at a coffee shop.

Why? 

Keg, handheld coffee maker, nitrogen cartridges, and a nitro tip are costly. Apart from them, you also need quality coffee beans, a grinder, a french press, and a nitro coffee maker.

FYI, Nitro coffee kits cost $130 and more online. Plus, nitrogenating coffee takes time because nitrogen is less soluble in liquid than CO2.

However, if you are a Nitro cold brew coffee lover, and really want to look into NCB coffee home systems, you need to consider these factors: budget, serving capacity, space (some machines are bigger), and warranty.

Is Nitro cold brew good for you?

I would like to be unbiased but YES! It may look like a glass of beer, but it doesn’t contain alcohol. It has its health benefits.

It does not have many calories, it is easy to get on-the-go, even after a workout. Plus, it is easy on the stomach, suitable for vegans, as well as people following a keto diet.

PS: Do not be afraid about the scary-sounding nitrogen, too. After all, the Earth's atmosphere is made up of approximately 78 percent of nitrogen!

How much caffeine is in Nitro cold brew coffee?

Cold brews in general are about 67% less acidic and have more or less the same amount of caffeine.

Why more or less?

It depends on how and how much you drink them. If you feel that your cold brew is too strong, check the coffee grounds-to-water ratio, or dilute it more. My preferred ratio is 1:8.

Regular coffee has around 160 mg of caffeine. With Nitro cold brew, you get about 280 mg of caffeine, not including cream or sugar in a 16-ounce cup - according to Google.

What is in Starbucks Nitro cold brew?

Starbucks spilled the beans and claimed the same for their grande version - 280 mg of caffeine.

On top of that, there are 5 calories, and 0 sugar, which considering that you should intake 2,000 calories a day (depending on job, sex, etc.) is not too shabby.

As I said before, cold brews take time, usually 12 - 24 hours. This chain slow-steeps their beans for 20 hours in a Toddy brewer and serves it without ice, in a tall or grande version.

PS 1: If you want to sweeten your life anyway, ask for syrup. Vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel are my favorites coffee sweeteners.

PS 2: Nitro coffee is not available in the Venti (supersized) version at Starbucks.

How long does Nitro cold brew last?

Steeping cold brew in a cool place (not exposed to oxygen) or the fridge takes 12 - 24 hours. 24 is maximum. Then it is strained and can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, undiluted.

The same applies to an average Nitro coffee concentrate. After that, it starts to lose its taste.

However, as written before, most of Nitro cold brews come in kegs. In that case, they do not go flat. This lovely beverage should also be stored in a cold place, as nitrogen is absorbed the best in low temperatures.

Another word of advice - just like beer, it is best enjoyed served in a glass (a pint one, for example) so you can enjoy the cascade: nitrogen bubbles rising.

Experts say that when the bubbles keep rising for at least 1,5 minutes, the coffee is good. There should also be a nice, frothy head sitting on the top.

And to drink this type of coffee like an expert — do not add ice or mix it with a straw. You would not do that to a Guinness, would you? 🙂

To summarize it, Nitro cold brew is a nitrogen-infused, fizzy, and cold beverage, that is becoming more and more popular — it is refreshing, relatively healthy, not acidic, strong... and the concentrate can be used for cocktails, or mocktails!

Cold coffee is hot right now! I love cold brew and the occasional bubbly, full-bodied Nitro. How about you? Where did you enjoy some good low-cal local Nitro cold brew coffee?