Have You Tried Nitro Coffee, the Iced Coffee That’s Served Like Beer?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Wanderlust Coffee)

Have you seen people drinking coffee pulled from a tap this summer? That’s nitro coffee, and it’s currently all the rage.

We’ve already seen how the bubbles-and-coffee combination makes people go crazy with the popularity of espresso tonics, so it’s no surprise that this slightly effervescent cold drink would be a big hit. Nitro coffee uses the same concept behind draft beer, which allows coffee companies to make big batches of cold brew and store them for an extended period of time (while still maintaining freshness).

As the name would have you believe, nitro coffee is cold brew coffee treated with nitrogen (or sometimes carbon dioxide). Traditionally that cold brew is made in a big batch and stored in a keg. The coffee is then served on draught, resulting in a cold coffee with a foamy head — just like you might get with a Guinness.

Since it’s served straight from the tap (and directly from a chilled keg), there’s no ice involved, so it’s less like drinking a traditional iced coffee and more like drinking a beer. There’s also no chance for diluting the coffee, as there is no ice to melt as you drink.

But nitro coffee isn’t reserved for a keg — there are also versions that are a bit more home-friendly. Stumptown even sells theirs in a can, just like several other coffee companies, including Cuvée Coffee and Washington, D.C.’s Confluence Roasters, who recently funded the launch of their cans on Kickstarter.

(Image credit: T. Tseng)

Is a can of the stuff just not enough for you? At Texas’s District Roasters, you can even buy your nitro coffee in a growler. Imagine the joy and happiness you could bring to the next picnic you attend if you dragged that thing along with you.

What’s cool about nitro coffee is that when it’s served out of a keg (if you’re not going for the canned version) and on tap, it’s mobile-friendly, and the drink has made special appearances in a variety of mobile coffee carts. In Atlanta, you can get Wanderlust Coffee to come and pull glasses of nitro coffee at your event, and in Tampa, you might catch sight of the Commune + Co. tricycle, which pedals its nitro keg around town. In Madison, the recently launched Velostein does the same thing, combining coffee and pedal-power to bring you your nitro coffee.

Are you ready to drink your coffee like a beer? I certainly am.