Nitro coffee is cold brew coffee infused with the colorless, odorless gas nitrogen. Sounds strange? The rise of nitro-infused beer is similar to the demand for nitro coffee. Visit almost any coffee shop and you will find a tap for nitro-infused cold brew coffee.
Gases go into cold beverages all the time – carbon dioxide (CO2) is what gives soda its characteristic bubbles and is why it is refer to it as being “carbonated”.
Nitrogen itself is already popularly used in certain beers, the most recognizable of which is Guinness or stout type beer. Instead of calling them “carbonated”, these beers are referred to as having been “nitrogenated”.
It was only a matter of time before someone decided that the creamy texture of a stout would be perfectly suited to cold brew. Like beer, nitrogenated coffee is only available “on-tap”. The nitrogen infused cold brew is released through a pressurized valve with tiny holes to create a creamy effect.
Much like typical cold brew, nitrogen infused coffee is extremely smooth and low in acidity, but it has a uniquely silky mouthfeel. This is because nitrogen gas doesn’t dissolve in liquids as well as carbon dioxide, so the bubbles in a nitrogen infused beverage are much smaller. This gives nitro drinks a foamy rather than bubbly character.
Most fans of the nitro-brew drink it black, either straight up or poured over ice, relying on the natural creaminess of the product rather than the addition of dairy.
Many shops market and sell nitrogenated coffee using its looks. As it’s drawn from a tap, it produces a coffee cascade of careening bubbles that is undeniably beautiful. The cascade effect, which is also apparent in nitro beers, arises because the nitrogen bubbles are so small that they are easily pushed around the glass by the flowing liquid.
Coffee? Health benefits??
It’s true! According to the Wall Street Journal, younger consumers say they view cold coffee as a healthier alternative to energy drinks and soda. Business – take notice!
The real benefit is natural flavor instead of additives like sugar and artificial sweeteners found in other drinks. While it’s not unusual to see someone put a ton of sugar into a traditional coffee, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone add sugar to a nitro cold brew. That’s because the nitro foam hits the tongue in spots that give the perception of sweetness without the need for sugar.
Acid reflux? Cold brews are very low in acid, benefitting coffee drinkers who tend to get heartburn or have sensitive stomachs.
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