The Important First Step For Drinking Nitro-Infused Cold Brew

Many coffee drinkers and Starbucks fans were likely confused around 2016. This was the time when the coffee mega-chain had decided to install complex tap systems in 2,500 of its stores across the nation (via Good Beer Hunting). These folks could be forgiven for assuming that this meant Starbucks would soon be pulling fresh drafts of foamy beer alongside espresso shots, but that wasn't the case. These complex taps were for Starbucks' launch of its nitro cold brew.

According to Thrillist, it wouldn't take long for the new drink to become the second most frequently ordered drink behind only the caffe latte. By breaching into Starbucks, the nitro cold brew had gone mainstream and done so in a relatively short amount of time.

For those who don't know, WBUR describes a nitro cold brew as a cold brew coffee — meaning it is brewed over a long period using cool water — that has been infused with nitrogen gas. This gives the smooth-flavored coffee a luscious, silky texture that imparts the creaminess of added dairy products without diluting any of the coffee's flavor.

While Starbucks may have brought nitro to the people, third-wave roaster Cuvée Coffee invented the drink. CEO Mike McKim says that he took inspiration from stout and porter beers which often bear coffee notes and frequently utilize nitrogen gas instead of carbon dioxide for their carbonation (via Thrillist).

Canned nitro needs a quick shake

Just as pouring the perfect pint of Guinness requires a delicate touch thanks to its nitrogen infusion, nitro cold brews have their own pouring rules as well. This is especially true when it comes to canned nitro. Quivr says that the best way to serve up a can of nitro cold brew is to give it a serious shake and a fast pour. We've all had a bad experience with a shaken-up can of soda before, but working with nitrogen removes the danger of overshaking. Insider notes that nitrogen bubbles are much smaller and tend to have gentler carbonation than carbon dioxide bubbles. Shaking the can stirs up those bubbles that may have settled, and the fast pour helps get the signature foamy head of a nitro cold brew.

Even when nitro is being poured from the tap, it still comes with plenty of rules. Mashed says that nitro cold brew isn't served with ice because the ice cubes would ruin the carbonation. Adding milk or using a straw are both missteps as well because they'll interfere with that luscious foam topping and again interfere with the signature texture of the drink.