Starbucks plans to put a kick in your cuppa' with #NitroColdBrew

Posted Jun 14, 2016 by Karen Graham
Iced coffee infused with nitrogen gas? Yep, it's coming to around 600 Starbucks locations by the end of summer. What is nitro-coffee, anyway? And is it better than plain old coffee?
Starbucks to launch nitro coffee in July.
Starbucks to launch nitro coffee in July.
Just a few days ago, Starbucks tweeted a little promo-type message suggesting we "learn about the magic behind #NitroColdBrew."
Nitrogen-infused coffee is actually nothing new. CNBC says it hit the market in 2011 or 2012, depending on who you want to believe. But in 2013, Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon installed nitrogen taps at its cafes, and in 2015, because of its popularity, Stumptown began to can its brew.
Last year, Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee introduced nitro coffee on tap, and by February of this year, 25 of its over 600 locations were serving the brew. And in July, Starbucks will become the third, and largest chain to serve nitro coffee. We don't want to ignore the small and often independent coffee shops that have been offering nitro-brewed coffee for several years, says EcoWatch.
Jason Card owns Journeyman Coffee in Tallahassee, Florida. He talked with EcoWatch and says the quality of the coffee beans used to make the base for nitro coffee can be important. When asked about the roast, because Starbucks tends to use medium to dark roast beans. He said, “It smooths over the flavor a bit. People who like Starbucks roasting style will probably like it.”
Jason also said that nitro coffee keeps longer in the refrigerator, and although it tastes a little bit sugary and is naturally creamy, some people might want to add a bit of creamer and sugar. “I feel like it smooths over the brighter tastes of coffee, which are the ones that clash with cream and sugar.”
So what does a nitro-brewed coffee taste like? Imagine a coffee that looks like a Guinness, stout, yet effervescent with a nice foamy head on top. But it doesn't taste like a beer, although beer is brewed using nitrogen gas infusion. Generally, about 20 percent nitrous oxide is added to the coffee base and when it comes out the tap, it looks like a sparkling effervescent cascade of brown liquid.
According to Mackenzie Karr, a coffee education specialist at Starbucks, the taste is surprising. Just a little creamy and sugary, but totally sugar and dairy-free. The resulting brew is less acidic and the beans used are entirely different from those used to make iced coffee.
"Nitro coffee has been under development at Starbucks for about a year," Karr says, "and a cold brew was a natural choice given the blend of beans and quality of roast." She says the launch of nitro coffee will come in waves. Locations in Seattle are already serving the brew. By the end of summer, it will be served at locations in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as well.
And what kind of price will you pay for a cup of nitro coffee? At Starbucks, a grande (large, 16 Fl. oz.) nitro will range in price from $3.25 to $3.95, depending on the market. At Stumptown, a smaller company, a 12-ounce nitro coffee goes for $4.50.