I need a fresh brewed cup of joe to get me out of bed in the morning no matter what day it is. Those hot summer mornings when you awake feeling a bit sticky the last thing I want is a steamy cup of coffee to add to the mix. This is where I discovered cold brew coffee.
I was a bit apprehensive at first, cold coffee sounded a bit unnatural to me. I did a bit of research and was surprised to find out how popular it has become. I gave it a go and I was impressed. The coffee was sweet, full bodied and just plain delicious. Now I always have a jug of cold brew ready to go in the fridge for a quick and easy pick me up.
This success with cold brew influenced me to expand my coffee horizons. I started looking into all the available options for cold brew and I stumbled across nitro coffee. Figuring that this was some crazy speciality, lab experiment I had a look into it and realised you can make nitro coffee at home.
After trialing cold brew vs nitro coffee I can truly say they both have their place in my heart. Nitro brew is thicker, creamier and makes for a decadent coffee drinking experience. Cold brew coffee (once brewed) is quick to grab on the go and has a delicate, sweet flavor.
To really dig into which option is best for you read on to find out more about both brewing methods.
WHAT IS COLD BREW (HOW IS IT MADE)
Cold brew coffee is easy to make and super refreshing on a hot summer’s day. As the name suggests, it is essentially coffee, but brewed cold. The idea is that you take your ground coffee and steep it in cold water rather than hot for a long period of time to allow gentle and slow extraction. The result is a sweeter, less acidic cup of java that can be enjoyed over ice or even heated up to make a delicious, steaming hot coffee in no time at all!
To make cold brew coffee you’ll need coffee beans and a grinder or pre-ground coffee. Set the grinder on a course setting (the same as you would for french press) and add your beans. The ratio you’re going for is about 1 cup of coffee beans to 4 cups of water but this can be adjusted depending on how strong you like it. You can also dilute the cold brew as well if it comes out too strong so don’t stress too much about volumes!
Add the coffee grounds and the water to a large pitcher or mason jar and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Around 12 hours is best but dont leave it for longer than 15 hours. Once it’s brewed strain the coffee using a filter paper (balanced on a V60, chemex or just on a sieve) or use a french press. Cold brew coffee can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Some useful tips for enjoying the perfect cold brew are to try using filtered water. The purer and fresher the water the better the coffee will taste. If you like a strong cup of coffee try adding cold brew to ice cube trays and freeze to make coffee ice cubes. Then as they melt in your cup of coffee you just end up with more coffee not watered down!
WHAT IS NITRO COFFEE
If you love cold brew then NItro coffee takes this to the next level! Nitro brew is a method where nitrogen is forced through the cold brew coffee to form millions of tiny, frothy bubbles, giving the coffee a thick, creamy texture.
Fancy coffee shops will use a nitro tap system (similar to a beer tap) to inject the nitro into the cold brew. Whilst this setup is pretty elaborate for the average home there is a way you can make nitro coffee in the comfort of your own home.
What you’ll need is a whipping canister (one that dispenses whipped cream), nitrous oxide cartridge and some cold brew coffee.
Once the coffee is strained you simply add it to the canister and attach the nitrous canister. Give it a shake and then dispense straight into your coffee mug.
Nitro coffee vs cold brew has subtle differences in flavor. The cold brew taste depends on coffee beans used, grind size, water quality and extraction time. All these variables can be adjusted to give the ideal cup for you.
Generally speaking cold brew has a sweeter, fuller flavour than hot brewed coffee and cold water can be added to reduce strength if it’s too concentrated.
Nitrous bubbles have a sweet flavour so this adds to the lovely cold brew sweetness. The foamy bubbles give it a thick, rich texture so each sip of coffee is a full mouth of flavor. It’s more creamy in flavor and if you like your coffee with sweeteners or milk then you may find you actually enjoy this brew as it is.
Cold brew coffee texture depends on whether you use filter paper or a french press to strain it. The filter papers produce a smooth and satisfying textured coffee whereas a press lets in a bit more sediment. If you like a rougher, grainy texture then this is ideal for you.
Nitro coffee is thick and creamy in texture with an enormous foam layer on top. This gives it a cappuccino mouth feel just without the milk.
The acidic component to coffee causes some people to find it unpleasant. From a sour taste to an upset stomach, too much acid can ruin any coffee experience. Cold brew coffee is lower in acid as most tend to dissolve at higher temperatures. This is the same effect whether you enjoy cold brew alone or with nitrous in it, so if you suffer from stomach irritation following drinking coffee then either of these options may be for you.
Because a larger quantity of coffee beans are used in relation to the volume of water this means cold brew contains more caffeine than hot brewed coffee. This figure transfers for nitro coffee as well. If you are in need of an extra helping hand to get going each day then these colder options could be just the ticket.
Another important point when you’re choosing between nitro and cold brew is the cost. Cold brew is definitely an easier option where all you need is coffee, water and a filter. The nitro brew requires either a whipping dispenser (these vary a lot in price) or a full on nitrous oxide tap. This means if you order it at a cafe the price tag is likely to be a fair bit higher than your average cup of cold brew.
Nitro coffee is essentially just cold brew with nitrous oxide bubbles infused throughout. This gives it a bubbly, foamy, creamy texture and extra sweetness compared to standard cold brew. Otherwise the benefits such a lower acid and higher caffeine are the same with the two options. In the end it comes down to cost (whether or not you have the equipment already) and whichever flavor you prefer.