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Guide to nitro cold brew vs. regular cold brew

Nitro Cold Brew vs. Cold Brew

You’re at the coffee shop, and it’s almost your turn to order. You’re debating between cold brew, nitro cold brew, and iced coffee but have no idea how they compare or which you’d like best. Slightly embarrassed to ask the barista behind the counter, you shoot in the dark.

We’ve all been there at some point in our coffee journey. Today, we’re here to clear up all confusion surrounding two of the most popular chilled drinks today. Follow along as we unravel our comprehensive guide to nitro cold brew vs. cold brew.

Next time you hit your favorite coffee joint for a cold drink, you can order with complete confidence. Who knows? You might even end up knowing more than the person behind the counter crafting your drink with care.

On Deck (Table of Contents)

Cold Brew

Cold brew is like nitro brew’s wise and serene older sister. While the drink made its debut hundreds of years ago, its popularity has only begun to soar over the past decade. Today, you can find it at a local coffeehouse, online, and in grocery stores. You can also make it easily at home.

Cold brew is coffee steeped in pure water at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The unique brewing method produces top-quality, chilled coffee with potent flavor and natural sweetness.

How It Tastes

Cold brew is much less acidic than iced coffee. It’s also more flavorful. With standard brewing methods that use heat, you extract flavors and aromatic chemicals from the coffee, making it more bitter and acidic.

With cold brew, you don’t lose the natural, intense flavors. Your cup will taste sweeter and smoother than brewed coffee or iced coffee.

When to Drink Cold Brew Coffee

You can make a batch of cold brew and leave it in your fridge for several days without losing much freshness or taste. If you like your coffee black but want less acid and bitterness, opt for cold brew rather than iced coffee or a regular cup of joe. The only downside to cold brew is that it requires about twice as much coffee.

In a nutshell, drink cold brew when you want high-quality, low-acid, sweet coffee without added sweetener.

How to Make Cold Brew

First, coarsely grind your favorite coffee beans. We recommend using a medium or dark roast. Our Brazil Cerrado Low Acid beans make an excellent cold brew. Use a 2:1 ratio of ground coffee (in ounces) to filtered water (in cups).

Mix the concoction so the water covers the grounds. Then cover the container for the steeping phase. You’ll steep your grounds in filtered water at room temperature or in a chilled environment for at least 12 hours. Your coffee creation will reach an equilibrium – when the extraction slows – at 14-16 hours. Once you hit this sweet spot, strain your coffee concentrate to remove all grounds.

After straining, you can add water or milk to the cold brew concentrate and serve. Use a 1:1 ratio of water (or milk) to coffee concentrate. You can save any leftover concentrate in a plastic or glass container. Just cover and stick it in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Pro Tip: If you’re a coffee enthusiast who wants to experience the breadth of flavors within the beverage, mix in a bit of nitro cold brew!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cold brew concentrate?

Cold brew concentrate is what you create by steeping ground coffee in water for several hours at room temperature or in the fridge. Once you remove the grounds, the result is cold brew concentrate – a strong, flavorful, smooth liquid you can mix with water or your favorite milk using a 1:1 ratio.

Can you heat cold brew coffee?

Yes, you can heat cold brew coffee. The result is a low-acid, super smooth, and naturally sweet hot coffee.

How much caffeine does it have?

Cold brew can have around 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per 12-16 ounces, depending on how strong you make it. Iced coffee has less caffeine – about 160 mg, on average. Regular brewed coffee will have around 145 mg of caffeine.

How long does it last before it goes bad?

You can keep cold brew concentrate in your refrigerator for up to two weeks before it gets stale.  

What type of beans should I use?

We recommend using medium or dark roast coffee for cold brew. Lighter roasts tend to be more acidic, so cold brewing can dull the flavors by eliminating the acidity. Conversely, cold brewing can bring out the flavors (like nuttiness and chocolate) in medium and dark roasts since they naturally taste rich and earthy.

Nitro Cold Brew

Nitro brew is cold brew infused with nitrogen. So basically, it’s cold brew’s cool, hip younger brother. It’s only been around for a few years – since 2013, we believe (the exact origin is uncertain).

It’s our favorite chilled drink option here at Fathom Coffee. Not only does it taste amazing, but it has a creamy foam top for added class – enough to make your taste buds sing. In our humble opinion, the crema you get from nitro brew on tap is like that of a freshly poured beer, but even better.

We consider this method superior because the added nitrogen preserves some flavor that can be lost during the cold brew process.

How It Tastes

Nitro cold brew packs a punch of flavor and has a robust coffee fragrance that enhances consumption. It’s also super smooth, sweeter than regular cold brew, and can have more caffeine. Also, you don’t have to add ice. The nitrogen naturally keeps it cool for you.

How to Make Nitro Coffee

Nitro cold brew can be a little trickier to replicate at home, but it’s entirely possible with the right equipment. Start by following the same process for regular cold brew (described in the “Cold Brew” section above). Then follow this process using a manual whipped cream dispenser:

  1. Take your cold brew concentrate and add water using a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Pour your cold brew into a manual whipped cream dispenser and seal.
  3. Charge the dispenser with a nitrous oxide cartridge and shake for 30 seconds. It will become cold within about a minute.
  4. Dispense the nitro cold brew by pouring it through the spout and into your cup.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

You can also use nitro cold brew kegs – sold online – following the included instructions. Some equipment allows you to make your cold brew concentrate right inside the keg, while others instruct you to add pre-made cold brew. You’ll add nitrogen cartridges to release gas into the chamber, shake the keg, and then pour your drink.

As you pour, don’t overlook the magical cascading effect as it unfolds before your eyes!

When to Drink Nitro Cold Brew

If you want a naturally sweet, tasty, creamy, and frothy coffee drink without having to add a thing to it, you might fall in love with nitro cold brew. Just remember that due to the time-intensive process and expensive equipment required to make it, you’ll pay more than you will for many other menu items. But, to many coffee connoisseurs, it’s 100% worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is nitro stronger than cold brew coffee?

It depends on how you make it and what you add to the end product. If you drink nitro cold brew plain, it will have more caffeine and a more robust flavor than cold brew with added water or milk.

Is nitro brew healthier than cold brew?

Not necessarily. Both brews offer similar nutritional and health benefits, including antioxidants and micronutrients. Coffee, in general, is linked to decreased depression, reduced diabetes risk, longevity, weight loss, and protection against dementia.

Cold Brew vs. Nitro Cold Brew: The Biggest Difference

The biggest difference comes down to texture. Both methods have low acidity and natural sweetness. However, nitro cold brew is even smoother and richer than regular cold brew and has that fancy, creamy foam top we can’t get over.

You really can’t go wrong when it comes to chilled coffee if you brew your joe correctly. However, some methods produce more flavorful and aromatic results. It comes down to your coffee strength and taste preferences. We encourage you to try each method to find your favorite.

The Perfect Bean for Your Favorite Chilled Coffee Drink

We serve nitro cold brew on tap at our shop, a combined effort with our friends from Snowing in Space. We provide the Kenopian beans, and they provide the equipment to transform them into refreshing nitro cold brew for all to enjoy. Visit us in person if you’re in the Virginia Beach area to give it a taste!

If you’re ready to try your own hand at iced, cold brew, or nitro brew coffee, we have the perfect beans for you – freshly roasted and ready to grind and brew. Our signature Kenopian blend and Brazil Cerrado Low Acid beans make excellent chilled coffee drinks.

Interested in offering Fathom Nitro Cold Brew in your workplace, restaurant, or brewery? Contact us to get started!

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