Nitro coffee is all the rage. Drink it straight up or poured over ice.
It’s basically cold brew coffee infused with pure nitrogen to create a super smooth creaminess and a uniquely silky mouthfeel. What better way to get your cold caffeine fix?
Some argue it’s healthier too. The nitrogenated foam creates the perception of sweetness. No need for sugar. How awesome is that? Low calorie black coffee without compromising the taste.
Of course we’re already familiar with the use of nitrogen in drinks. Think Guinness or Boddingtons. Though technically that gas mix is around 75% nitrogen to create that creaminess we love and 25% carbon dioxide to push it through the pipes. Anyway, it was only a matter of time before someone realised that that infamous creamy texture would be totally awesome in a cold brew coffee.
For better results at home it’s worth understanding a couple of technical points.
Nitrogen versus nitrous oxide
Use nitrogen. Why? Because pure nitrogen is less soluble than nitrous oxide and creates a smoother, creamier texture. Nitrous oxide creates a coarser foam that’s looser with larger bubbles.
It’s the nitrogen that’s responsible for that cascade of careening bubbles we love to look at when Guinness is poured. The nitrogen bubbles are so small they’re easily pushed around the glass by the flowing liquid.
And in case you’re wondering, nitrogen is safe. Think about it—the air we breathe is 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is sustainable whereas nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas. Nitrogen is also inert, meaning it doesn’t alter the taste of the drink, unlike nitrous oxide.
It’s not just down to the gas. With Guinness, for example, a stout faucet is a critical bit of kit. Inside the faucet, the Guinness hits a restrictor plate that forces the flow through smaller holes. As the nitrogen hits ambient pressure and comes out of solution into gas form, it creates smaller bubbles because there's not a lot of liquid present. The Guinness then passes through an aeration disk where a small amount of air is mixed in to help create more head. The low solubility, high pressure, and restricted flow combine to form that creamy texture.
Nitro coffee is typically only available on-tap because it needs to pass through a similar faucet.
Enter the Nitropress™, but at £100-odd it’s pricey for the home. It’s such a shame we can’t buy just their patented nozzle. Instead I use a bog-standard 0.5 litre whipped creamer and a short injector tip that’s 2-3mm in diameter. This seems to do the trick quite well. The narrow nozzle helps restrict the size of nitrogen bubbles formed. I did have to buy a nozzle set separately for a few quid.
2g nitrogen charger
Simple syrup, if required
1. Pour chilled cold brew through a fine mesh sieve into the creamer. Any debris can impede the formation of bubbles. If you have a sweet tooth, you can enrich the cold brew with a simple syrup to taste.
2. Attach the small injector tip to the cap and screw the cap tightly onto the creamer.
3. Place the nitrogen charger into the capsule.
4. Turn the creamer upside down so that the injector tip is pointing down. Screw in the capsule until the gas is dispensed. Doing it this way ensures all the gas passes through the liquid on charging.
5. Shake gently 20 times to agitate. This helps dissolve the nitrogen into the cold brew. Place the creamer on the work surface and let it sit for 5 minutes to condition.
6. Turn the creamer upside down again and give it 10 more gentle shakes.
7. Slowly dispense the nitro coffee into a glass filling to about three quarters full. You’re looking for an opaque light brown colour showing there are lots of nitrogen bubbles present in the solution. If any larger bubbles form on the surface gently tap the glass bottom on the work surface.
8. Now sit back and watch the bubbles rise to form the creamy head.
9. Drink and enjoy.