The Nitro Coffee Trend and the Challenges to Serving It

What new trend in coffee has its origins in craft beer circles, looks like a glass of Guinness, and has generated enough excitement with health-conscious fitness buffs as well as coffee aficionados that retail coffee giants have embraced it? It is Nitro Coffee, the latest evolution of cold brew coffee!

What is Nitro Coffee?

Nitro coffee is cold brew coffee infused with food-grade nitrogen gas. When the coffee is poured using a special faucet, called a stout faucet, the infused nitrogen forms microscopic bubbles. The nitrogen bubbles do several things. Visually it renders an appealing "cascade" in the liquid with a creamy head on top that makes the coffee look just like a glass of dark stout. Take a sip and you will notice the thick, silky mouthfeel that the nitrogen gas bubbles impart to the fluid. This brew is special enough to warrant its own moniker: Nitro Cold Brew or NCB!

As the use of the 'stout faucet' for the pour suggests, nitro coffee has its origins in craft beer circles of Austin, Portland, and New York. The nitrogen bubbles give the coffee a creamy mouthfeel even without adding cream. And the cold-brewed coffee is sweet enough that it needs no sugar. NCB is then a tasty, invigorating drink with no calories. That is the reason for its popularity with coffee aficionados and the calorie-conscious exercise crowd.

Why not use CO2 instead of nitrogen? Two reasons: CO2 reacts with the coffee to give it an unpleasant flavor, and CO2 bubbles are bigger, so the mouthfeel is not as rich as one gets with nitrogen. Even beer gas, a 75%-25% mixture of nitrogen and CO2 is also unsuitable for the same reason. Only nitrogen can produce both the visual and taste sensations of NCB.

Serving Nitro Coffee

A proper serving of nitro coffee typically requires special equipment like refrigerated kegs, or kegerators, nitrogen gas tanks, and stout faucets. Baristas need special training in handling all this equipment, as well as for producing an appealing pour. For operators, this can be expensive both in terms of labor and equipment, and often, those expenses get passed along to the consumers.

image005There's a new kid on the block who can help. U-Line, in partnership with Joe Tap.

Is it possible to have a satisfying and consistent nitro coffee pour without all that special equipment and training? Yes, if you are willing to invest in just one special piece equipment, U-Line's Joe Tap cold brew coffee system. It is a coffee dispensing unit that can pour both nitro coffee and 'still' (without gas) cold brew on demand.

This machine is self-contained with its own kegerator and a reservoir for the cold brew coffee. The nitrogen gas tank is installed inside the machine. The coffee is not pre-infused with nitrogen; instead, the infusion happens on demand at the tap, right when the coffee is dispensed. So, baristas can pour cup after cup of nitro cold brew with consistent appearance and taste with every pull of the lever. U-Line's Joe Tap comes in both countertop and under-the-counter configurations.

We recognize that "beverage" is a huge (and profitable) part of F&B. High Sabatino offers a free bar and beverage consultation to help you achieve maximum efficiency and profitability of your beverage program, no matter what you're serving. Schedule a time with us today.

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