In the old days, coffee was very simple and oftentimes a bit bland. Today, the coffee industry has grown exponentially and consists of a strong culture of enthusiasts who care about where their coffee comes from, how good it tastes, and who enjoy different roasts and styles. With the rise of specialty coffee, there are now more options than ever before.
Cold coffee has quickly become one of the most popular drinks at coffee shops. With many variations available in the market, it can be challenging to know the differences to decide which one to get! Some of the options include: iced cappuccinos, americanos, macchiatos, iced coffee, and even nitro cold brew.
If you're an iced or “cold” coffee enthusiast, you may have heard of cold brew and nitro cold brew. But do you know what the difference is between these two? Let's dive in!
Cold brew has actually been around since the 17th century (and you thought it was a new thing!) and has gained popularity in the last 5 to 10 years. You can find the drink at just about any coffee shop these days.
How it’s made
The "cold" in cold brew is not referring to the temperature, but to the process of making it. Similar to iced tea, cold brew is made by steeping coffee in cool water at room temperature for around 12 to 24 hours. This makes for a smooth and flavorful coffee that can be stored in the fridge and served for up to 7 days after brewing.
How it tastes
The taste of cold brew is different from a hot cup of coffee. When heated, coffee can lose some of its aromatic and delicate notes and become acidic or bitter. Since a cold brew is made with cool water, it tastes sweeter, milder, and is less acidic. The Aroma and flavor may not be as intense, but the coffee retains flavor for much longer than hot coffee stored in a fridge.
Caffeine in a cold brew
Cold brews require roughly double the amount of coffee to brew. This is due to the absence of heat, making the extraction slower. In addition, this also results in more caffeine when compared to a regular cup of coffee. If you find cold brew to have too much caffeine, you could brew with decaf coffee beans, or a half-caff mixture.
Nitro cold brew
Nitro cold brew is a version of cold brew that is a bit bubbly and fizzy. When it was introduced in the coffee market, people who loved coffee and beer found it very appealing as it tastes like a combination of the two.
How it’s made
Nitro cold brew is made by taking cold brew coffee, and pouring it into a keg. It is then infused with nitrogen bubbles and pushed through a pressurized valve to create a similar look to an "on tap" beer.
How it tastes
Nitro cold brew is generally more expensive because of the nitrogen infusion. The equipment is expensive, takes up more space, and takes extra steps to make. This is why you won’t find it in every coffee shop that you go to.
Price and availability
Nitro cold brew is generally more expensive because of the nitrogen infusion. The equipment is expensive, takes up more space, and it takes extra steps to make. This is why you won’t find it in every coffee shop that you go to.
What should you try?
Now that we've discussed the differences between the two, we'd recommend trying a nitro cold brew for its exciting taste. Also, keep in mind that it has a higher coffee to water ratio making it more caffeinated than a standard cold brew.
At Bean & Bean we like to make coffee inclusive and accessible for everyone. Thus, all of our blends are available in a “cold brew” grind, which means you don't need to own a grinder to make cold brew. We suggest using our Peru Las Damas blend. Its excellent balance and sweetness makes for a refreshing cup of coffee without a lot of bitterness.
If you’re a little nervous about making cold brew for the first time, you can use our cold brew kit! It’s a DIY kit that is perfect for people who want to enjoy a cold brew, but are unsure of where to start. It includes a 12 ounce bag of our signature Downtown Blend in a cold brew grind, a Mr. Clever Dripper with #4 filters and instructions on how to make a cold brew at home. If you’re in a particularly fun mood, you can actually color the instructions in! You can also get an umeshiso spoon or a rainbow big dipper to go with it. We’re partial to the rainbow big dipper ourselves!