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Nitro Coffee: What Is It & How Do You Make It?

If you even pay the smallest bit of attention to any coffee company, shop, or roaster, you’ll have heard of nitro coffee. “Nitro coffee” is a heavily trending phrase in the coffee industry, and coffee drinkers all over the United States are flocking to this delicious and unique beverage.

If you’re behind the nitro coffee movement, you may be asking what it is. If you’ve tasted it before, you’re probably wondering how you can make it at home! Below, we’re going to go over precisely what nitro coffee is, and we’ll include a recipe for making it yourself at home. Let’s get started.

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What is Nitro Coffee?

Let’s dispel a common misconception right away: nitro coffee is not super caffeinated or even more caffeinated than coffee!

The “nitro” refers to nitrogen, and nitro coffee is any coffee that has been infused with nitrogen gas. Nitrogen naturally tastes sweet, and the bubbles are significantly smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles. In fact, they’re so little, you’ll perceive them more as a cream than as carbonation.

Nitro cold brew and Cold brew coffee served on tap
Image Credit: Marco Verch, Flickr

The result of pumping nitrogen into coffee is a rich, creamy, delicately sweet, and utterly smooth taste and mouthfeel. It’s an exciting coffee experience, and because those who make nitro coffee typically use cold brew coffee as a base — which is naturally smooth and tastes less acidic than hot brewed coffee — nitro cold brew is extraordinarily refreshing and enjoyable.

Now that you know what it is, let’s dive into making it at home!

How to Make Nitro Coffee at Home

Making nitro coffee at home may sound complicated, but it’s straightforward if you have the right equipment. Since nitro coffee is traditionally made with cold brew, we’re going to include directions on how to make cold brew in our recipe so that you can follow along from start to finish below!

What You’ll Need:

Ingredients
  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • 4 cups fresh, cold water
  • 4 ounces of coarsely ground coffee
  • Cold brew flavoring (optional)
Equipment

Guided Steps:

1. Let coffee and water steep.

Mix coffee grounds and water into a large mason jar or carafe. Stir to ensure all coffee grounds come in contact with water. Let sit for 18-24 hours at room temperature.

2. Pour your cold brew through a sieve.

Place your fine sieve on top of an empty, clean mason jar or carafe, and pour the contents of your coffee and water mixture into it through the sieve. Dispose of any caught grounds.

3. Pour your cold brew through a paper filter.

Rinse the carafe or mason jar you just emptied, and place a pour-over cone and filter on top.

Pour the new coffee mixture into the clean container through the paper filter to remove any smaller grounds. Depending on the amount of coffee grounds being filtered out, you may need to swap to a second paper filter to improve the flow of filtered coffee. Dispose of the used filter(s).

Nitro
Image Credit: Michael Fajardo, Flickr

4. Refrigerate your coffee.

Place your fully filtered cold brew in the fridge and let it sit until it reaches your desired drinking temperature.

5. Pressurize your coffee.

Open your cream whipper and fill with cold brew. Load a nitrogen cartridge into the whipper, and close and tighten the lid.

Shake the whipper lightly, flip upside down, and pull the trigger as briefly as possible into a serving glass to “burp” the gas out of the whipper. Repeat 2-3 times to avoid spraying highly pressurized coffee everywhere.

When there is no longer a risk of making a mess, pull and hold the trigger to dispense nitrogen-infused coffee into your glass.

6. Enjoy!

Enjoy your velvety nitro coffee!
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Are There Alternative Methods?

There are different options you can choose for just about every step of the process! We’ll break these down for you below.

Nitrogen Infusion

The cream whipper method described above is by far the easiest and cheapest way to make nitro coffee at home. However, if you want to make larger quantities or make serving more convenient, you can invest in a mini keg (more often used for beer) and install a nitrogen tank instead of a CO2 or “beer gas” tank. Note that carbon dioxide can produce undesirable flavors in your coffee, so you’ll want to choose a pure nitrogen (N2) tank if you do purchase a keg for nitro cold brew.

Nitro cold brew coffee
Image Credit: T.Tseng, Flickr

Coffee Preparation

Cold brew is the preferred coffee preparation method for most people looking to enjoy nitro coffee. Still, if you lack the equipment or just prefer a different brewing method, you can adapt the recipe above with ease.

Any kind of coffee can be infused with nitrogen, so feel free to brew with a French press, a pour over cone, a drip machine, or an espresso maker. Just make sure to use a fine paper filter before adding your coffee to your cream whipper, as grounds can clog the device and cause issues.

Flavorings

And, of course, no coffee drink is complete without a long list of flavorings for some coffee customization! Although nitro coffee is delicious and refreshing by itself, you can add flavor syrups, extracts, or even some Kahlua or Baileys to the coffee before infusing with nitrogen. If you are going to add Baileys — or anything else with cream — we’d recommend using the cream whipper method of infusion, as milk-based products can damage keg lines.

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Wrapping Up

Nitro coffee and nitro cold brew are wildly popular in the coffee industry now, and if you’ve tried it before, you probably know why! It’s delicious, rich, delicately sweet, and super refreshing if served cold. The tiny nitrogen bubbles offer a creamy mouthfeel that is definitely unique when it comes to coffee!

Now you should have a good idea of what nitro coffee is, and how to make it at home without too much trouble. Just a warning: if you serve it to friends and family, expect them to continue coming back for more!


Featured Image: The Coffee Chronicler, Flickr

Dan Simms

Dan has been a coffee fanatic since caffeine became a necessity in college, and since then his enthusiasm has only grown. He has come a long way since his days of drinking mass-produced coffee, and he now has a love and appreciation of the entire coffee experience from farm to cup.

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