Do you desire a cool, creamy and easy-to-serve morning boost or refreshment for a hot summer day? Nitro coffee may be a good option to have on tap. You might be asking yourself, what is nitro coffee? It’s cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen and served through a tap, much like draft beer. Just place your glass and pour. The result is a smooth, frothy caffeinated beverage that comes with all the benefits of cold-brewed coffee, and then some. Nitro coffee can be more healthy and easier to stomach than your typical cup of joe.
Here are some things you need to know about drinking nitro coffee.
More Bark, Less Bite
Cold-brewed coffee is made by soaking grounds in cold or room-temperature water for up to 24 hours. How does this change the chemical composition? “Cold-brew coffee has less acid in it per ounce as compared to hot coffee,” dietitian-nutritionist Gina Keatley told The Huffington Post. “This happens because coffee grounds, or more specifically the various oils, acids, and other aromatic molecules, are most easily extracted at about 195-205 degrees.” So what’s different in the cold-brewing process?
“Cold water, in contrast, extracts more slowly and selectively, produces a simpler extract, and doesn’t change the original flavor substances as much,” food science expert Harold McGee wrote in The New York Times. Basically, you get the same great-tasting beverage with less bite.
According to a study by cold-brew system maker Toddy, cold brewing results in two-thirds less acidity than hot coffee. It found the acidity of a regular Starbucks blend to have a pH level of 5.48 while a cup of cold-brewed coffee had a pH level of 6.31. A lower number on the pH scale means a substance is more acidic. Considering more than half of American adults drink coffee every day, this may be a relief to the 54 million who suffer heartburn, three-quarters of whom claim it’s spurred on by beverages, according to the National Heartburn Alliance. Heartburn isn’t just a nuisance. It could be a warning sign. Persistent heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, which has been linked to esophageal cancer.
Your stomach and esophagus aren’t the only parts of your body more at risk against acids in your drinks. Teeth can suffer as well. In addition to causing stains, the acids found in coffee, much like soft drinks, can wear down tooth enamel. Enamel is the thin layer of protective coating around your teeth. It protects your teeth from the effects of chewing, biting and grinding. Erosion of enamel can lead to sensitive teeth, cracks and chips, discoloration and indentations. At its worst, it can make teeth more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay.
Put Away that Milk and Sugar
The health benefits of nitro coffee aren’t just about how its brewed, but what we add to it once it’s served. Many people enjoy pouring milk, cream or half & half, along with a sugar of their choosing, into their hot coffee to offset the acidity. What’s recommended for nitro coffee? Nothing at all. It’s often enjoyed without adding dairy or sugar. The nitrogen infusion makes the coffee rich, creamy and frothy all on its own.
Here’s what you’re saving yourself from when you don’t put these common additives in your coffee, according to Kathleen M. Zelman of WebMD:
- One teaspoon of sugar, 15 calories
- A tablespoon of cream, 50 calories and six grams of fat
- One tablespoon of half-and-half, 20 calories and two grams of fat
- One tablespoon of whipped cream, 90 calories and 9 grams of fat
- Two tablespoons of flavored liquid non-dairy creamer, 80 calories and four grams of fat
- One tablespoon of plain liquid non-dairy creamer, 25 calories and two grams of fat
- A drizzle of caramel syrup, 25 calories
- Two tablespoons flavored syrup, 80 calories
- Two tablespoons malt, 90 calories and two grams of fat
- One tablespoon mocha syrup, 25 calories and 0.5 grams of fat
Adding dairy may also curb some of the health benefits. Coffee is chock-full of antioxidants, and some research suggests that adding dairy may hamper the body’s ability to absorb these beneficial compounds.
The Nitrogen Makes it Super-Charged … Sort of
Afraid that nitro coffee won’t make for a suitable wake-up call? Never fear. While it’s true that cold-brewed coffee can contain less caffeine than hot coffee, the same isn’t true of nitro coffee. A cup can have twice as much caffeine as iced coffee, and about as much or more than hot coffee. Be prepared for a big energy boost.
It’s a Good Source of Antioxidants
Did you know that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the United States? That includes nitro coffee, which joins other forms of the beverage with this benefit.
“Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” said Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, who led the study that arrived at the above conclusion. Vinson and his team analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 food items. Coffee was the clear winner, based on the amount of antioxidants per serving and the frequency of consumption. Antioxidants have been linked to a number of health benefits, including less risk of cancer and heart disease. Coffee has been shown to protect drinkers from a wide range of ailments.
“We looked at all the science,” Miriam Nelson, a professor in the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told AFP. “We have found no negative, adverse effects on health when you drink up to three to five cups a day,” she said. “In fact, there is a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and a couple of cancers,” including breast and prostate cancer.
The History of Nitro Coffee
To get to where we are now with the advent of nitro coffee, we have to look at cold brewing through the ages. The process of cold brewing coffee may have come about as early as four-hundred years ago. Cold-brewed coffee, also known as Kyoto coffee, has been a popular drink in Japan since the 1600s, according to The Guardian.
It was apparently introduced to the Japanese through Dutch traders by way of Indonesia. They may have developed the method as a way to transport large quantities of coffee that could later be reheated or simply served cold. Cold-brewed tea was a common beverage in Japan at the time, so this tale may have legs. But not everybody is convinced it’s true. Other cold-brew origin stories say it comes from Latin America, according to Roast Magazine’s Daily Coffee News, though these stories are difficult to back up.
A case could be made the development of coffee concentrate, which is essentially what cold brewing produces, may be the first recorded instance of the process. Coffee concentrate’s origins lie in American, French and British military rations.
First Cold Serve
The earliest occurrence of coffee concentrate being served cold, however, was by the French. The first Mazagran—coffee concentrate sweetened and mixed with cold water—was enjoyed by French soldiers at the Mazagran fortress in Algiers after France took control of it in 1837. It apparently gained popularity after those soldiers returned home and shared the recipe with cafe owners. Things took another leap forward in the 1960s when Japanese businessman Ueshima Tadao developed canned coffee with milk. Shortly after, Italian coffee giant illy produced coffee in a can with no milk or sugar. The cold-brewing process commonly used today, however, was created by American chemical engineer Todd Simpson in the late 1960s. His method led to the invention of the Toddy cold-brew coffee system.
Nitro Coffee Today
Which brings us to nitro coffee. The identity of its creator is in dispute, but many believe it originated from Cuvee Coffee in Austin, Texas. “The idea came to me in 2005 when I was selling espresso machines and saw that a customer had installed a coffee beverage on one of his beer taps,” Cuvee Coffee CEO Mike McKim said. “The drink was just a flat, cream and sugar kind of thing, but the idea of coffee on tap stuck with me.”
The Queens Kickshaw, a coffee shop in New York City, has also claimed ownership and said the idea sprouted from a conversation between an upset barista and owner Ben Sandler. “He was, like, ‘Ben, we’ve got to figure out something about this iced coffee situation, it’s everywhere,'” Sandler told Esquire. “I said, ‘Why don’t we just push it through the draft system, that’d make it easier for you, huh?’ Then we looked at each other and went, ‘That’s a really good idea.'”
By one way or the other (probably), nitro coffee was born.
Let’s get Frothy!
Nitro coffee is a tasty way to get your caffeine kick without upsetting your stomach, all the while reaping all the health benefits of drinking java. What’s more is a system can be set up at home with all parts and accessories available to you.
Drop a line, and get your mornings started right with coffee from a nitro tap.