Nitrogen-infused coffee is a thing. And it’s wonderful. The nitrogen adds that creamy body that makes it resemble a Guinness, while still having the smooth refreshing flavor of cold-brewed coffee. I’ve come across a few coffee shops / breakfast places that serve it; not sure if it will take off and wind up at Starbucks, but I sure as hell like it.
- (4) 10 oz packs of ground Columbia coffee
- 5 gallons cold tap water
// Pour grounds into bucket. Pour water into bucket. Stir well, wait 10 minutes. Stir well, wait 10 more minutes. Stir well, cover surface //
The reason for all the stirring and waiting is because the grounds will float up and form a giant layer of sludge on the water surface. Stirring will mix it back it, but you’ll need to repeat a few times to make sure the grounds have good contact with the water.
Typically cold-brewed coffee is brewed, well, cold. I didn’t have enough fridge space to fit a 5 gallon carboy at the time so I just let mine steep at room temperature. I did some looking around online about cold-brew methods for coffee. It seems like the general consensus is that room temperature is fine, but it won’t be as “smooth” as if it were done cold. Some say the coldness helps to slow the rate of oxidation, which ultimately makes the coffee taste stale. I laid a few sheets of plastic wrap down on the surface to keep out as much air as possible, so hopefully that will suffice. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Separating the coffee from the grounds and transferring to the keg was interesting. There was a large share of grounds still on the surface, as well as at the bottom. I could have siphoned, but I was a little afraid of too much grit getting through and clogging. In a perfect world, it would be awesome to have a giant french-press to push all the grounds to the bottom. Instead I wound up pouring the coffee through a funnel lined with a fine mesh nylon filter, straight into the keg. It was quick, effective, and easy, but I definitely splashed the coffee around in the process. I vented the keg several times with nitrogen to hopefully purge any oxygen from the solution.
Nitrogen-ating took about a week to really infuse and pour with a solid head. The final product was very enjoyable. Incredibly easy to make (almost as easy as cider!). Unfortunately the biggest barrier to entry is the nitrogen system in case you’re thinking about trying this. Beware – there are posts/articles about “shortcuts” to make nitro coffee like this one – this just seems like a dangerous idea so I would advise doing it for real and setting up a nitro system. It’s a little pricey, but hey, now you can put beer AND coffee on tap!
Appearance: A bit paler than I expected – a lightish brown / ruby red highlights, certainly not as dark as a standard cup of coffee. Fantastic creamy nitro head that lasts forever.
Aroma: The nitro tap really aerates and brings out the aromas. This was no exception. The coffee aroma really jumps out of the glass.
Flavor: Smooth, silky, delicious roast. I’m not a coffee connoisseur, but Columbian coffee is a little more “fruity” to me than other more bolder, smokier roasts.
Mouthfeel: Suuuuuper creamy.
Overall: A fun experiment that I genuinely enjoyed drinking! I think upping the amount of grounds by 25% would be a good thing. I yielded about 4 gallons, which was honestly a lot of damn coffee. It lasted a long time (~2 months) on tap, because it’s not something you can really drink in pints. I had a small (6 to 8oz) glass each morning and that was enough for me. Any more and I was bouncing off the walls from the caffeine. It might also be cool to try blending other ingredients like spices and fruit to make a fall spiced coffee or spritzy summer version.