What is Nitro Coffee? The Only Guide You’ll Need

what is nitro coffee

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Coffee lovers, coffee lovers, oh coffee lovers, if you haven’t yet heard of Nitro coffee, you must have been living under a rock!

No, seriously, if this is your first glimpse into the world of Nitro coffee, get ready for your brain to explode.

This strange beer-like coffee has been gaining popularity since 2012 when it made its first debut at Austin’s Cuvée Coffee; five-plus years on and still many people haven’t even heard of it.

With that said, More and more baristas are buying into the nitro trend, and you’ll find that Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are actively promoting and selling Nitro infused coffee on tap in many of their flagship stores throughout the USA.

If you’ve already discovered this unique nitrogen-infused coffee or those of you that are late to the party, here are a few things you might not know about this new take on a classic coffee beverage.

What is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?

Even though Nitro coffee looks like silky beer, it’s not going to leave you all blurry-eyed and with a foggy head the next morning because Nitro is completely alcohol-free.

But what exactly is Nitro Coffee?

barista holding and serving a drinking glass of nitro coffee.


When you break down Nitro coffee and look at the basics, you’re looking at pure cold brew coffee brewed the traditional way using something like a commercial-sized Toddy T2N Cold Brew System. The cold brew is then put into a keg (very similar to a beer keg), and then it’s infused with nitrogen gas.

The taste of nitro coffee is dependent on a few factors. The type and roast of the bean and the gas mixture, pressures, and dilutions all play a role in how the Nitro coffee tastes.

When the colorless, odorless nitrogen gas is added to the keg, all of the oxygen is forced out, allowing the cold brew coffee to be stored for much longer than it typically would be able to if oxygen is present.

The showstopper is that the Nitro coffee is served from a tap on the countertop, with the mechanics being very similar to tap pulled beer. The resulting coffee is a creamy, frothy, bubbly brew that looks like an Irish Stout.

It’s Nitrogen Infused – Duh!

The great thing about adding nitrogen to coffee is it brings an otherwise dull coffee to life. There’s no need to add sugar, milk, or cream because Nitro Coffee is like a whole new coffee-drinking experience.

The funny thing is that the nitrogen gas doesn’t actually change the taste of the coffee; it’s the texture of the coffee that tricks your brain into thinking it tastes different than a regular cold brew coffee.

But be warned, Nitro does have more caffeine than a regular cup of joe, more on that further down the page.

nitro coffee gif

Is Nitro Coffee Bad For You

Hell NO, in fact, it’s a healthier option, here’s why.

Firstly there’s no need to add extras in a Nitro coffee such as sugar creamers etc., your tongue is tricked into thinking the coffee is sweeter than it actually is, plus you’re drinking pure black gold the way it’s meant to be drunk. Also, nitro coffee has only 5 calories and 0 grams of sugar.

Because cold brew coffee is brewed for longer periods of time (sometimes days), you’re getting a coffee that’s generally less acidic than a regular hot coffee that’s ground up and served straight away.

The only downside to Nitro infused coffee is the extra amount of caffeine, which can be a good thing depending on how much you love your caffeine buzz or if you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter!

Nitro Coffee Caffeine Content

A typical glass of Nitro coffee contains a lot more caffeine per ounce than a regular cup of iced coffee. Here’s an example.

A Starbucks normal tall iced coffee has roughly 120mg of caffeine. On the other hand, a tall Nitro cold brew coffee has about 245mg of caffeine.

There are a couple of reasons Nitro coffee contains more caffeine. For starters, the regular cold brew full immersion method extracts a lot more of the coffee oils along with the caffeine from the beans as it steeps for hours or days.

So a regular cold brew is already moving up the caffeine scale. Also, because Nitro cold brew is served with no ice, milk, or other additives, the pure coffee and caffeine become quite concentrated.

This means that Nitro infused cold brew coffee will give much more of a jolt to the system, and that’s why most coffee shops will recommend a smaller cup.

Where Can I Find Nitro Coffee Near Me?

Currently, there are only a small number of selected coffee shops in the United States that are serving Nitro cold brew.

Starbucks, for example, is serving up this coffee at around 500 of its stores but is planning on taking the on-tap coffee beverage to nearly 1,500 locations by the end of the year (2017).

Unfortunately, most coffee shops, Starbucks included, simply don’t have the extra space and equipment to serve Nitro cold brew.

With limited space in coffee shops, many baristas have taken to the road, and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you may even find a smiling, bearded barista peddling a cart armed and ready with tap pulled Nitro infused coffee for sale in your city.

But for coffee lovers everywhere, if you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have a coffee shop serving Nitro coffee near you, don’t fret because Nitro coffee comes in cans!

Nitro Coffee Comes in Cans

Many grocery stores are now stocking Nitro coffee in cans. When slowly poured into a glass, this canned coffee beverage will give you almost the same experience as freshly tap pulled cold-brewed coffee.

Even big coffee brands such as the Death Wish Coffee Company and Stumptown have jumped on the bandwagon, and you can get their take on Nitro cold-brewed coffee from a can, so keep a lookout for those.

Nitro Coffee At Home

If you can’t find Nitro locally, you can always make this creamy and sweet-tasting cold Nitro infused coffee at home. In fact, it’s super easy! All you need are a few household items, and you’re all set.

Required items:

Cold-brewed coffee concentrate (info: cold brew French Press tutorial).

Whipped cream dispenser and Nitrous Oxide cartridge (like this one).

  1. Take your cold brew coffee concentrate and add it to your whipped cream dispenser (you can dilute with two parts of water).
  2. Close the lid on the whipped cream dispenser, screw on the Nitrous Oxide cartridge, shake, and pull the trigger while aiming into a glass.

See, I told you it was super easy!

You’ll have to let the coffee settle before you drink it because this home brewing method is slightly different compared to the coffee shops; they use keg systems that are set up in a way to give you 80% liquid and 20% foam. But this Nitro Coffee at home is pretty damn close!

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