At first glance this coffee looks like a draught beer, but on first tasting the full aroma of coffee is released onto the palate. What is it? This is nitro coffee, the new trend on the 2019 coffee scene, which has made its way to Europe from the land of stars and stripes, enhancing the range of options in Italian bars and cafés. Nitro Coffee is a nitrogen coffee, an advanced evolution of the classic Cold Brew, with one small difference: the drink is extracted cold then infused with nitrogen.
Nitro coffee, the new draught coffee
Nitro coffee is a very recent invention: according to some urban legends, two New York baristas were the first to experiment with it between 2011 and 2015. The authorship is unknown, we can’t be certain of anything, what we are sure of is the process that led to the discovery: gas, like carbon dioxide in soda, has always been added to cold drinks. This is probably where the inspiration for Nitro Coffee Cold Brew came from.
The technique behind nitro coffee is the same as that used for certain beers (classic stouts such as Guinness). It consists of a cold infusion of nitrogen through a pressurised valve with small holes in it to create a creamy effect. In effect, it is draught coffee. Nitro coffee is served on tap, in a much larger and more diluted form than the classic espresso, and often in cylinder-style glasses like those used for beer.
Cold extraction, how does it work?
We have already said that the process for cold extraction of coffee is the same as the process for Cold Brew: The coffee is extracted cold through a long infusion in water for about 12 hours, which produces a particularly aromatic coffee: the drink obtained is smooth and creamy, and characterised by low acidity.
In the case of nitro coffee the drink is then simply infused with nitrogen. Aesthetically, it looks like a dark-amber coloured draught beer. Nitrogen coffee is cold, flavourful and has a golden cream that obviously does not contain milk, but comes from the infusion of the gas.
Nitro coffee has a smooth and delicate taste, but also packs a lot of flavour
Nitro? Tasty, smooth and delicate but still full of flavour.
Nitro coffee is an extremely smooth coffee, with a silky, velvety texture but is also tasty and fragrant, as the flavour is enhanced by lengthy maceration of the ground coffee powder in water. Its unique and velvety texture comes from the nitrogen which, unlike carbon dioxide, does not dissolve in liquids and therefore does not cause the density of bubbles that we find in sparkling mineral water.