Just as it sounds, “Nitro Cold Brew” coffee is a cold brewed coffee, shot through with nitrogen gas; the nitrogen transforms coffee’s texture into a uniquely smooth and creamy mouthfeel.
It’s not a silly fad; it’s delicious food science at work. Passing nitrogen gas through a drink product is popular in both the coffee and beer industries right now. It lends certain heavy beers, like a porter or stout, a more drinkable mouthfeel.
For coffee drinkers, it lets you achieve the sensation of coffee creamer, without having to dilute the coffee with actual cream or milk. Nitrogen also lets coffee lovers drink darker, more robust roasts, by softening the harsher bite often associated with bolder, more flavourful roasts. Mainly though, it just makes it more delicious.
No one knows precisely when and where the nitrogen cold brew coffee trend started, but Cuvée Coffee House in Texas happily take credit for it (2012), and the internet generally indicates 2015 was the year Nitro Cold Brews started taking hold in hip North American cafes.
Jumping Bean has officially introduced the trend to Newfoundland. They’ve invested in the set-up a coffee shop needs to offer the stuff at their Water Street location (in Atlantic Place). They’ll gauge our appetite for Nitro Cold Brew here, before installing the set up at other locales.
To serve a proper Nitro Cold Brew, a cafe must essentially set themselves up like a bar: the product is brewed onsite, like a beer, in a process that takes 24 hours or more. Lines are run into kegs, complete with a “beer tap” from which the brew pours.
They’ve contracted an Atlantic company, with employees on the ground here in St. John’s, to install the hardware from them. Draft Pro has done work for both Yellowbelly and Quidi Vidi Brewery, and various local bars and restaurants.
A true coffee lover will forgive the extra coinage a nitro cold brew might set them back, given that this product takes a little more time and money to produce than a regular, from-a-percolator cup of coffee.
Nitrogen is naturally transparent and odourless, making it an ideal candidate for adding to coffee, as it won’t interfere with the taste. You end up with a coffee reminiscent of a pint of Guinness in terms of mouthfeel and appearance, complete with that foamy-creamy head.
A lot of people like a Nitro Cold Brews because they give you the pure taste of coffee (unadultered by adding cream) since the blast of nitrogen provides that creamy feel. Most people will drink it straight up as is, but no one’s going to judge you for adding milk, cream, or sugar.
Some cafes offer sweeteners tailored to Nitro Cold Brews, like simple syrups, and Jumping Bean may or may not be experimenting with a vanilla-cream combo. Jumping Bean launched their Nitro Cold Brew this weekend, just in time for the summer, and as their marketing and PR manager says, “it’s a perfect summer patio coffee.”
For Jumping Bean, “keeping on trend” is part of the job, be it selling Jumping Bean Keurig coffee pods for casual coffee drinkers, or offering Nitro Cold Brews to any townie coffee connoisseurs looking to taste the latest in cafe culture.