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What Is Nitro Cold Brew?

Maryna Gray Maryna Gray • April 06, 2021

There's cold brew, and then there's nitro cold brew. Both are delicious, but undeniably different from each other. Read on to learn about nitro cold brew and how you can make it at home. 

What Is Nitro Cold Brew?

Nitro cold brew is cold brew that's infused with nitrogen gas. The final product features a sweet taste and a thick, almost cream-like body topped off with a head that's akin to that of a stout beer. If you look closely, you’ll see streams of tiny cascading bubbles (the nitrogen) in the brew. 

How Much Caffeine Is in Nitro Cold Brew?

Like regular cold brew, nitro cold brew can be a bit higher in caffeine than hot coffee. But it can also be lower in caffeine. Such is the case with a Tall Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, which has 215 milligrams of caffeine compared to a Tall Blonde Roast, which has 270 milligrams. Overall, the caffeine content in a nitro cold brew is comparable to that of a standard cold brew or hot coffee. 

How to Make Nitro Cold Brew at Home 

Nitro Cold Brew Necessities 

  • Toddy or Filtron
  • 1 pound of high-grown coffee beans, freshly roasted
  • Corny Keg
  • Nitrogen regulator (available at welding or home brew supply stores)
  • Pure, food-grade nitrogen gas
  • A stout tap with restrictor plate

Nitro Cold Brew Recipe 

Our recipe starts with high-grown, low-acid coffee (freshly roasted, of course). We've had the best success with coffee from Guatemala and Colombia. We grind the beans slightly finer than we would for a commercial cone brewer, and then use a Filtron to brew a super-dense concentrate, a process that takes 11-plus hours. Kegs and regulators can be purchased at home brewing equipment supply stores. For the gas, try your local welding supply.

We dilute the concentrate inside what’s called a Corny Keg (usually what you see holding beer), and then store the brew under high pressure nitrogen for a few hours. As the high pressure nitrogen enters the coffee, it adds body by way of introducing very tiny nitrogen bubbles. The added gas also helps articulate the sugars already present in the coffee.

Finally, nitro cold brew is served just like a stout beer: through a tap that has a “restrictor place." The plate forces the coffee, kept at high pressure in the keg, through five tiny holes, which further agitates the nitrogen, adding a thick head to the brew. It's one of the sweetest coffee drinks imaginablewithout adding any sugar at all.
Want to try making regular cold brew at home? See How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew vs. Nitro Cold Brew

There are a few notable differences between nitro cold brew and cold brew: 

  • The texture differs; nitro cold brew is thicker and frothier than cold brew.
  • Cold brew is often served over ice while nitro cold brew is not (though it can be). 
  • Nitro cold brew is typically more expensive than cold brew (to make and to buy). 
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