Make Nitro Cold Brew, One Cup at a Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Café owners rejoice! There’s now a way to do nitro without breaking the bank

BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Nitro cold brew is big ”like, really big. œNitro  refers to coffee that has been infused with nitrogen. Unlike regular carbonation, nitrogen creates small air bubbles that keep their shape longer and give the coffee a heavy, silky texture. Think of the difference between any ol’ beer and a Guinness. When you infuse coffee with nitrogen, the coffee takes on a very similar texture and mouthfeel.

However, unlike Guinness, which is delivered to your favorite bar ready to pull from a keg tap, most coffee shops make their cold-brew coffee on-site, and having a nitrogen keg can be incredibly cost-prohibitive and wasteful. You have to ask yourself, how many of these am I going to sell in order to justify the cost of not just a keg, but the dedicated tap space? If only you could make nitro cold-brew to order, right?

You can see the cold brew beginning to cascade, just like a Guinness.
You can see the cold brew beginning to cascade, just like a Guinness.

Mark Kim, owner of Amis Creperie and Café in South San Francisco, asked himself that very question, and then one day, he found the solution. He was researching different beer-dispensing technologies when he discovered NitroBrew, a handheld device that nitrogenates anything you put into it.

The NitroBrew looks like sort of like a hot glue gun fused with a moka pot ”you open up the bottom portion that has a container for liquid, put whatever you’d like into it (coffee, of course, would be our choice), close it up, and place a nozzle into a charging station, and then pour your drink out of the nozzle.

The NitroBrew has an interior chamber for liquid ”coffee, beer, tea, etc. After a quick charge, the NitroBrew dispenses smooth, nitro-infused beverages.
The NitroBrew has an interior chamber for liquid ”coffee, beer, tea, etc. After a quick charge, the NitroBrew dispenses smooth, nitro-infused beverages.

Along with preventing waste since it allows you to make one cup at a time, the NitroBrew is also an inexpensive way to introduce nitro coffee to your customers. œSince the cost of the system was so low ”especially in comparison to a fully kegged system, which was turning out to be prohibitively expensive ”I thought it was worth a try, and if it didn’t work as advertised, I could just call it a loss,  Mark says.

For Mark and Amis Creperie and Café, it proved its value almost immediately. œPeople have responded well to us using the NitroBrew,  he says. œMost are surprised at the method we use [when they order a nitro] as they typically expect us to dispense from a beer faucet. 

You can see the cold brew beginning to cascade, just like a Guinness.
You can see the cold brew beginning to cascade, just like a Guinness.

Aesthetically, the NitroBrew is completely different than a keg system. œFirst of all, there is definitely a presence associated with having a chrome tower and dispensing a nitro-coffee from a beer faucet,  says Mark. œSecond, no matter how you spin it, it takes longer to put the coffee into the [NitroBrew] kettle, fill the kettle with the nitrogen, shake to incorporate the gases, and dispense, than to just dispense straight from a faucet. 

You can loosely compare the NitroBrew-vs.-keg argument to the pourover-vs.-batch brew. The benefits of the first ones ”NitroBrew and pourover ”include allowing you to customize and offer a wider, fresher selection. And challenges? A little extra time to prepare, and some explanation for customers who might ask about this new preparation method. Not too big a deal, when you think about it.

Sonja Zweidick, who graced the cover of the June+July 2016 issue of Barista Magazine, was an early adopter of the NitroBrew.
Sonja Zweidick, who graced the cover of the June+July 2016 issue of Barista Magazine, was an early adopter of the NitroBrew.

Regardless, the NitroBrew allows for experimentation and play, and it delivers a solid nitro coffee that might have been unavailable to many coffee shop owners previously, and it’s a fun way to add a new drink to your menu and be creative with how coffee can be served.

 

 

Ashley-Rodriguez1-188x300

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Rodriguez  thought that she’d take a break from teaching middle school science and putz around in a coffee shop for a few months. She ended up digging it way more than teaching (and was vaguely better at it). After spending 5 years making coffee in New York, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked for Sightglass Coffee for three years. She recently decided to give full-time coffee writing a go, though she can still be found working bar shifts now and again in Temescal Alley in Oakland. Follow her on Twitter at @ashisacommonname

About baristamagazine 1794 Articles
Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.