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If you’re ever around the coffee community in the warmer months, you know that cold brew is one of the biggest hits among the java addicts. In the last couple of years, a new coffee trend has sprung up in the realm of cold brew, and it has taken coffee lovers everywhere by storm.
Let’s talk about nitro coffee. While you’ve undoubtedly seen the name either at your gym or in your favorite coffee café, not everyone knows what it is or why people are so excited about it. That’s what we’re here for. So read on for the full low-down on this coffee trend.
What is Nitro Coffee?
Nitro coffee, or NCB, is a type of cold brew coffee that infused with nitrogen gas to achieve a unique flavor and mouthfeel. This drink was first served on tap around 2012 and hit the shelves in canned form in 2014. Since then, its popularity has skyrocketed, which is why you can find it in nearly any specialty coffee shop around.
As with any good invention, there’s some contention as to who exactly started this trend. The most common story you’ll encounter is that Austin, Texas’ Mike McKim, founder of Cuvee Coffee, got things started and was closely followed by Portland, Oregon’s Stumptown.
However, according to Esquire magazine, The Queens Kickshaw should be credited with the origin of the trend. This New York coffee pub was the first to start serving their cold brew through the draft system in 2011.
Regardless of who you think should get the credit, this is a must-try drink for any coffee lover.
While hearing that people are putting nitrogen in their drinks may seems startling at first, the idea of gassing up drinks isn’t exactly new. Many of us have even done it in science class by throwing dry ice in some
From soda to sparkling water and even beer, drinks with added gas for a little pizzaz is nothing new. It’s just the nitrogen that’s a little different, simply because you don’t see it as often. However, some beer brands do use it.
So, why nitrogen?
Nitrogen is a tasteless, odorless gas that is more difficult to infuse into liquids than CO2. If you’re now imagining fizzy coffee, that’s not quite how this works. Nitrogen adds to both the flavor and texture of the coffee. However, rather than making it crackly like carbonated drinks, nitrogen makes drinks foamier.
This change gives the coffee a velvety texture akin to a frothy beer. Basically, the nitrogen makes what is essentially black coffee taste and feel as if you have already added cream and sugar to it. That’s an exciting prospect for most coffee lovers.
How it’s Served
Due to its unique composition, NCB is also served in a rather unique manner. While a few companies have unlocked the secret to canning it, the experience between canned and fresh is still considerable.
Because it’s difficult to keep the nitrogen gas in liquids, nitro coffee is typically served on tap. The smaller bubbles are less likely to dissolve, which is what gives the coffee its signature texture. A dispenser is required in order to create the pressure to add nitrogen into the beverage.
Unfortunately, that means it’s pretty difficult to make your own nitro brew at home, as it requires specialized equipment.
Even though nitrogen in NCB gives the drink a natural sweetness, there are those out there who still want a little more oomph. Rather than adding sugar though, many sweet tooth owners opt for other tasty add-ins to enhance their nitro coffee experience.
Some common additions include vanilla syrup and sweet cream; however some shops have gone the extra mile with their concoctions. Mighty Brew Bros in Manhattan, for example, has created the Nitro Pop and the Nitro Float. The first has a coffee popsicle garnish and the second has vanilla ice cream in it.
So if you’re already a fan of nitro coffee, you can try one of these exciting combos to get even more out of the drink.
Why the Hype?
Like we mentioned earlier, this drink is becoming wildly popular, meaning it’s popping up everywhere. From Starbucks to fitness studios, this drink is probably on the menu.
Because it’s a cold brew, fitness fans have particularly taken a liking to this drink. The nitrogen create a natural flavor that hints at sweetness, allowing many coffee fanatics to drink it straight. Also, the fact that it’s a cold brew means its less acidic, making it easier on digestive systems.
Additionally, the canned nitro often has nut-milk blends high in healthy fats because it helps keep the nitrous oxide in the drink. Between the health-conscious ingredients and great taste, this drink has caught a lot of attention.
What makes nitro coffee so special in coffee shops is that it pairs well with their signature coffees. Many coffee shops boast about their particular beans and blends because a lot of thought goes into selecting them. So the fact that nitro coffee is dependent on method and technique rather than the bean means that virtually any shop can offer it with the purchase of some extra equipment.
If you haven’t tasted nitro cold brew coffee yet, you should. The cup of smooth, frothy goodness is a crowd pleaser. Plus, the very experience of drinking black coffee that tastes and feels like a sweet, creamy breakfast accompaniment is an exciting prospect.
So whether you’re ordering it at a local coffee shop or grabbing a can, nitro coffee is a trend to try.
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