Not too many years ago, some gourmet and speciality coffee shops in the United States began adding nitrogen to cold brew coffee to experiment and explore new ways of tasting coffee. And it turns out that the invention is successful, people like it, it starts to become popular, it is jumping the boundaries, and so we come across what is known today as nitro coffee.
What is nitro coffee?
Nitro coffee is, as the name suggests, coffee with nitrogen. Sparkling, gaseous coffee, with a texture and appearance like that of a dark beer (not for nothing, the famous Guinness is also made with nitrogen).
Nitro coffee is a cold coffee to which nitrogen is added, but it is not the same as Cold Brew coffee. It is brewed differently. We could instead call it an “evolution” of cold brew coffee.
We’ll explain that later, but you make a cold brew (in our guide above, we tell how), infuse it with nitrogen and serve it with a unique dispenser for soft drinks.
This illustration explains it very well:
Coffee makers for nitrogenated coffee
It is not very appropriate to talk about coffee pots for nitro coffee because more than “coffee pots”, they are drink dispensers with soda, similar (but not the same, we must not confuse them) to kitchen siphons.
These nitro coffee dispensers usually have a capacity of 2 or 4 litres, although there are fewer standard sizes above and below that figure. If you don’t want to spend money on one of these, well, you can always use a conventional kitchen siphon, as if you were making a soda.
Nitro coffee makers on Amazon look like this and are priced like this:
- ZENITHCO NITRO TAP Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Maker No Electricity Nitrogen (2L)
- SODIAL 2L Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Maker Stainless Steel
What does nitro coffee taste like?
Nitrogen has no smell or taste; it’s an inert gas that doesn’t react with any other elements. What does nitrogen do, then? Well, it adds thousands of micro-bubbles to the cold coffee already brewed.
It doesn’t change the taste of the coffee too much, but it does improve its texture. It will give us the impression of being sweeter and softer than usual coffee (although we insist, nitrogen by itself does not provide any flavour).
Of course, the final taste of our nitro coffee will depend to a great extent on the speciality coffee used in the previous preparation of the cold brew.
We must also stress that nitro coffee has less acidity than usual coffee. It is because most of the acids released by coffee dissolve when they come into contact with hot water. Logically, this does not happen with cold coffees, whether they are conventional cold brews or nitrogenous beverages.
How much caffeine does nitro coffee have?
Generally, a little more caffeine than regular coffee. Why? Because cold brewed coffees are usually produced in a more concentrated manner (i.e. with a higher proportion of coffee in comparison to water than in other preparations).
So any amount of cold-brewed coffee (as is the case with this recipe for nitro coffee) will have more caffeine than the same amount of the same hot brewed coffee.
How to prepare nitrogenated coffee
To make nitro coffee, you need the following ingredients:
- Coffee (logical).
- A cold brew coffee maker.
- Nitrogen loads.
- A soft drink dispenser, if possible specific for coffee.
- A large cup or glass.
And before we go any further, let’s make one crucial point: we’re going to use nitrogen (N2O) loads and not C2O. Remember that we’re going to make a nitrogen drink, not a carbon drink. The look and price of both are similar, so buy your nitrogen loads at Amazon and don’t get confused. Look for N2O in this recipe.
- Impeccable Culinary Objects ICON810 Cream Chargers
- NitroPress Coffee Cocktail Chargers, Use with NitroPress Instant Nitrogen Diffuser
Time needed: 15 minutes.
The process of making the nitrogenated coffee takes no more than 15 minutes, assuming that you already have the cold coffee prepared beforehand. If you opt for a cold brew, you know that it will take several hours to infuse it. You can also try it with a traditional iced coffee. It’s not the same, but at least it will be faster.
- We make a cold brew coffee. You know that this process takes several hours, so we recommend that you do it one or two days in advance.
- Let the coffee rest in the cold for a day. If you’re in a hurry, wait at least 12 hours (from the night before), but the longer it infuses, the more intense and balanced its flavour will be.
- Serve the coffee cold in your nitrogen dispenser. The next day, or when enough hours have passed, we pour the coffee into the nitrogen dispenser and add a load of nitrogen.
- Squeeze! Activate the dispenser to release the nitrogen load so that it mixes with the coffee inside the container.
- We shake and mix. When we have released the nitrogen, it is time to move everything around so that the gas mixes with the coffee, and the final drink acquires its characteristic foamy, fizzy and smooth texture. Five minutes should be enough.
- Finally, let it rest. If you pour the nitro coffee into the cup or glass immediately after shaking, likely, the gas (nitrogen) has not entirely dissolved in the liquid (coffee). If you can, let the dispenser stand for 2-3 minutes before serving your freshly brewed nitro coffee.
Can you drink the nitro coffee with milk?
Well, no rule prevents adding milk, sugar or any other element to nitrogen coffee. What happens is that the nitro coffee already has such a soft and silky texture, even with a natural sweetness, that it is reasonable to drink it alone, without additives. But if you want to drink the nitro coffee with milk, go ahead; there’s no problem.