What is nitro coffee and can you use a beer gas to make it?

Nitro coffee has gone high street and drive-thru in recent years with the launch of the cold brew, nitrogen-infused caffeine shot at the likes of Starbucks and Costa. If you’ve developed a taste for the extra smooth coffee and already have a homebrew setup for stouts and porters you’re ready to give it a go yourself. Doing it yourself is also an awful lot cheaper per cup than you’ll find at the big coffee chains.

What is nitro coffee?

Nitro cold brew coffee is perhaps best described as regular chilled coffee but with the texture of Guinness – complete with a creamy head. The velvety, smooth finish and the thicker mouthfeel is achieved by an infusion of nitrogen. Serving the brew under pressure gives the same cascading tasting and visual satisfaction of a stout that settles in a glass.

What do you need to make nitro coffee?

You can buy small scale nitro coffee systems for use in the home. There are cheaper options available but for a decent piece of kit, they can be expensive. However, if you already have a kegerator you only need a few additions to convert from ales to nitro coffee (and back again as your cravings dictate).

And what you need to make nitro coffee depends on the gas you choose to use – a beer gas mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen or pure nitrogen only.

Can you use beer gas to make nitro coffee?

Firstly, you certainly don’t want to attempt making nitro coffee with carbon dioxide only. Because CO2 dissolves so easily into liquids, you will only end up with nothing but foam.

Next, the fun bit about making nitro coffee for the first time – even as something of an experiment – is that you can play with your CO2 / N ratios to find one that best suits your own setup and, most importantly, taste.

Lots of people prefer to use pure nitrogen in their nitro coffee brews though it can be a somewhat more technical process to do so. Others suggest that a small proportion of CO2 helps with the foaming process. Why not try a 30/70 CO2/N mix and see how it works for you? It might just revolutionise the way you make coffee and kickstart your day.