Cold brew has always been one of my go-to brewing methods, especially during the hot season. But I only realized that the drink could provide a whole different experience when I tried the Nitro Cold Brew at Starbucks.
Both beverages deliver a delicious taste with a caffeine kick, there’s no doubt about that – but how are they different, and which one is better?
In this article, I’ll break down the differences between these two drinks so that you can make an informed decision about your next cup of joe.
Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew: What’s the Difference?
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee beans at room temperature or cold water overnight, for 20-24 hours. The main difference with nitro cold brew is that it takes the same process but it is infused with nitrogen gas as it pours from the tap.
Unlike the regular cold brew, the nitrogen infusion creates microbubbles, giving the coffee a cascading, frothy texture, similar to beer plus an added sweet flavor.
So where did they come from? Cold brew coffee has been around since the 1600s in Japan and was first dubbed Kyoto-style coffee. Meanwhile, nitro cold brew was known to have been first offered at third-wave coffee shops in the early 2010s. Today, you can find both beverages offered as signature drinks at major cafes worldwide.
As for me, I’ve been drinking both cold brew and nitro cold brew for a few years now. I remember trying the nitro cold brew for the first time and the experience was quite different from the typical cold brew that I’ve been enjoying for years before that. Still, each has its own distinct flavors and features that I both enjoy depending on my mood and cravings. Plus, when properly stored, they can last in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Here’s an overview of what regular cold brew and nitro cold brew each have to offer:
|Coffee||Flavor & Texture||Strength & Acidity||Caffeine content||Price point|
|Cold Brew||– Smooth|
– More robust flavor
|– A stronger drink|
– Higher acidity
|– Less caffeine content||– More affordable than nitro cold brew|
|Nitro Cold Brew||– Fuller body|
– Velvety texture with creamy foam
|– Milder mouthfeel due to the microbubbles|
– Less acidity
|– Higher caffeine content||– More expensive due to the addition of nitrogen|
The Flavors and Texture of Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is a delicious alternative to hot coffee and even iced coffee, as it has a smooth texture combined with mild chocolate and extremely low-acidity fruit notes. The steeping of the beans also results in a deeper, more robust flavor profile that is quite evident in the cup.
Meanwhile, the addition of nitrogen gas gives the drink a fuller body with a velvety texture and a creamy foam created by the tiny bubbles forming as the nitrogen gas dissolves in water. These very bubbles also add a slight sweetness to its taste.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy the kick of your coffee, opt for the cold brew, and if you seek a more textured drink, then nitro cold brew may be the right drink for you.
Caffeine Content: Which One is Stronger?
Cold brew usually has less caffeine compared to its nitro coffee counterpart because:
- Nitro cold brew uses more beans to account for the added nitrogen
- Normal cold brew usually has ice in it, nitro cold brew does not. This means you are effectively getting more coffee in a nitro cold brew cup.
When comparing the pure forms of both drinks, however, I find that nitro cold brew feels milder due to its creaminess.
Remember though that both drinks have higher caffeine content than your regular coffee— typically around 200g of caffeine per 16-ounce serving.
Another thing to note is that caffeine content varies depending on different factors such as the roasted beans used and how much time each type of coffee sits in contact with water during the brewing process. The preparation of cold brew and nitro cold brew can also differ depending on which coffee shop you get your cup of joe.
Which One is Better: Cold Brew vs Nitro Cold Brew
Concluding which choice is better is quite tricky, as it really comes down to your personal preference:
- Some people prefer the smoothness of cold brew,
- while others crave the creaminess and texture of nitro cold brew.
Both beverages have their own distinct flavor profiles that make them unique.
For me, I prefer the nitro cold brew as it strikes the right balance between a creamy drink and that strong caffeine kick. Due to its higher price, however, I don’t mind drinking the usual cold brew more often.
I encourage you though to try both and see which one suits your palate better. Go and explore different flavors and sweeteners until you find the cup of cold brew that nails it for you. You might even discover a new favorite.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some quick answers to questions related to cold brew and nitro cold brew:
Yes, adding nitrogen to your cold brew requires additional equipment that is pretty heavy in the pocket. This is why nitro cold brew is also more expensive in coffee shops.
Absolutely. Don’t be afraid to add milk and other sweeteners to achieve the flavor that you’d enjoy. I often add some cream to my cold brew as I lean towards creamier coffee.
Yes, a serving of nitro cold brew is typically stronger and has more caffeine content than a shot or double shot of espresso.
Now you know what sets cold brew and nitro cold brew apart from each other. Both have their own unique flavor profiles that make them worth trying. While regular cold brew is more affordable and has a stronger taste with higher acidity, nitro cold brew offers a velvety texture with creamy foam and less acidity but comes at a higher price.
So whether you prefer the smoothness of cold brew or the creaminess of its nitro variation, these two beverages pack quite the punch in terms of cooling you down and waking you up for a long day ahead.