The Ultimate Guide To Nitro Coffee - What It Is, Why We Love It, And How To Make It At Home

11 min read FEB 23, 2023

A tall, clear glass. Dark, rich liquid slowly fills the vessel.

Once void of color, the glass is painted in medium-light brown hues that seem to shift, move, and swirl as tiny bubbles cascade throughout the liquid.

Up and down the inside of the glass, the bubbles move, darkening the light brown hues as they dissipate and race upwards to settle atop the brew in a cloud of dense, velvety foam.

The drink’s temperature is cold. The texture, silky, smooth, even creamy from the miniscule bubbles dancing within the liquid en masse.

The taste is creamy and sweet, free of acidity and bitterness.

Is it sweetened? No. Are creamers and syrups added to bring about this rich decadence. No.

Is the liquid carbonated? No. Is this beer? No.

This…is nitro coffee!

Whether you’re already a fan, you’ve only recently heard of nitro coffee, or you’re completely new to this brew, here we hope you’ll enjoy learning of the ins and outs of this deliciously popular coffee beverage!

And, be sure to stick around ‘til the end where we’ll show you how to make nitro coffee right from the comfort of your own home!

An Intro to Nitro

Nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee that has been infused with nitrogen gas with a pressurized valve, hence the name for this popular beverage.

And, if the notion of adding nitrogen gas to your coffee has you a bit concerned, you’ll be relieved to know this inert gas is completely safe, as it in fact makes up 78% of the air we breathe.

Nitro coffee is similar to a carbonated beverage, which has been infused with carbon dioxide in its production process. The difference, however, is that these beverages are supersaturated with carbon dioxide, which creates bubbles that are large enough to give the infused beverages the classic fizz that many love.

Nitrogen, on the other hand, has extremely tiny bubbles that don’t dissolve all that easily. And, this not only gives the beverage a thick and heavy appearance and mouthfeel, but it acts as a preserving agent as well.

Some people compare nitro coffee to draft beer because of the classic foamy head that forms atop the java that’s poured straight from a tap.

No worries though, you can still enjoy a nitro coffee while driving, because likening this drink to the look of a draft beer is as far as it goes. In other words, there’s no alcohol in nitro coffee.

When it comes to the origin of the process of infusing nitrogen into coffee, a bit of debate has been sparked surrounding the beginnings of this brew.

Some hold that Portland, Oregon based food scientist Nate Armbrust created nitro coffee during his time working for Stumptown Roasters when attempting to carbonate cold coffee in 2013.

Others believe the beverage’s origins date back to as early as 2005 in concept, with the first pint of nitro coffee being served in the summer of 2012 at Cuvee Coffee in Austin, Texas.

Cuvee Coffee CEO Mike McKim says he came up with the idea in 2005 when he saw that one of his customers had added a coffee beverage to a beer tap. Ordering the beverage, he explains the drink was just a “flat, cream and sugar kind of thing.”

However, the notion of coffee on tap stuck with McKim.

Then, amidst his search for ways to make “a more complex and flavorful cold brew,” one day Mike was drinking with a friend, enjoying a milk stout nitro, when it hit him: “I watched the cascading nitro (in the milk stout) and thought, why can’t I do that with coffee?”

And the rest, as they say, is history!

Adding nitrogen to coffee is said to provide an illusion for your senses, the nitro bubbles creating a creamy, velvety, mouthfeel that makes you think you’re enjoying something overly decadent, simply through an altered presentation, here with the addition of the nitrogen gas bubbles.

And, as this type of coffee is generally made with cold brew, it is classically less acidic and less bitter, making you think the brew contains elements of sweetness (more on that in a moment).

These features, illusion or not, mean that you’re able to enjoy such a brew often without the addition of creamers, syrups, and sugars that can hinder your health and negatively impact your waistline.

But, flavor and feel aren’t the only differences in nitro coffee.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is important to note that this type of brew can contain more caffeine than regular drip coffee due to the fact that nitro coffee has a higher coffee to water ratio.

Some nitro coffee can even contain up to 30% more caffeine per ounce than regular coffee, though overall, these amounts vary depending on the manufacturer.

Since this type of coffee does require nitrogen infusing equipment, which can be expensive and take up space, this brew isn’t available in every coffee shop you waltz into. But, if nitro coffee isn’t offered at your local coffee shop, the tasty beverage has become available in canned form on grocery shelves throughout the country.

And, with only one or two pieces of equipment (non-industrial size of course), you can even make nitro coffee at home!

The Nitro Coffee Craze

Nitro coffee has caused such a stir, in a good way of course, that this take on java has been dubbed “one of the fastest growing items for coffee shops around the world.”

And, it’s no wonder the drink has become so popular! As we mentioned above, this brew has a noticeably sweeter, less bitter, less acidic flavor than regular drip coffee.

But, this attribute actually comes from the fact that the coffee has been cold brewed, not from the infusion of nitrogen into the liquid.

Regular drip coffee, brewed using heat, brings out the bitter notes in your brew. While cold brewing, which involves steeping coffee grounds for longer periods of time at room temperature (or under refrigeration), results in a less acidic and overall sweeter java.

So, what is it about nitro coffee, compared to plain old cold brew, that makes folks flock to coffeehouses serving this gas-infused brew?

The thing is, nitro coffee doesn’t technically taste all that different from cold brew, but most folks don’t drink coffee for the flavor alone.

Drinking coffee is an experience.

From the aromas wafting in the air, the presentation of color from the original brew or from any additions, the texture as well as the taste when the coffee graces your tongue, the feel of the brew inside your mouth then again as you swallow, even the flavors that linger in between sips, all of this matters when truly enjoying coffee.

And, nitro coffee delivers on all fronts!

Texture is seen all throughout the coffee as the tiny bubbles from the infused gas move about, a sight that many describe as thoroughly captivating.

The body is thick, creamy, and rich, and a foam of what seems like authentic, soft velvet rests atop the brew.

The flavor is rich, sweet, and lacks the bite of bitterness and acidity typical of a drip brew.

Many people find they don’t even need to use sugars, syrups, milks, and creamers in nitro coffee due to the lack of acidity and bitterness combined with the silky, rich texture.

And, for this very reason, individuals looking to ditch sugar or dairy, or simply looking to improve their health, have opted to board the nitro coffee train to gain all the wonderful health benefits coffee has to offer minus the typical sugary add-ins some find necessary to tame the bitterness of some brews.

If you’re already a huge fan of nitro coffee, or if you’re simply looking for a brew that’s less bitter, and full of flavor and texture, you can even make this brew at home…

Nitro Coffee at Home

Using cold brew and either a nitro brew dispenser (also called a nitro cold brew maker) or a whipped cream dispenser, you can skip the coffee house altogether and enjoy delicious nitro coffee in the comfort of your home!

First, you’ll need to make some cold brew coffee…

Of course, the simplest way to make your own cold brew at home is with our Lifeboost Cold Brew coffee packs. With these, the coffee is already measured and packaged for you, so you simply toss the cold brew packet into a pitcher of water, wait, and enjoy.

You can also make cold brew with a cold brew maker, in a mason jar, or even with your french press.

Without a cold brew maker, the french press method is likely the most simple way to make cold brew. You only need:

- French press (32 ounce)
- Coarsely ground Lifeboost Medium Roast coffee
- Filtered water
- Liquid and dry measuring cups
- Spoon
- Glass container to store finished cold brew

*Note: You can use any roast of coffee you’d like, even flavored selections are wonderful when cold brewed.*

With a 1:4 coffee to water ratio, use your dry measuring cup to add one cup of coarsely ground coffee to your empty 32 ounce french press.

Using the liquid measuring cup, add 4 cups of filtered water to the press, then very gently give the mixture a slight stir (nothing elaborate here).

Place the french press plunger just on the top to seal the opening, do not plunge.

Leave at room temperature for 18-24 hours, then press down the plunger to separate the grounds from the cold brew. Pour the cold brew into a glass jar or pitcher to store, and you’re ready to enjoy!

Cold brew should be stored in your refrigerator where it will last for 7-10 days, unless you decide to add water to dilute the mixture where it will then only remain fresh for roughly 3 days.

And, now that you’ve made a delicious batch of cold brew, we’re ready for a nitro coffee how-to.

Cold brew can be strong, and that’s why some people prefer to use cold brew as a concentrate, adding one part cold brew to two parts water when enjoying.

If you’re using it as such, you’ll need:

16 ounces cold brew concentrate
32 ounces filtered water

Once combined…

To make nitro coffee in a nitro brew dispenser (or nitro coffee maker):

  1. Add cold brew to the keg of the nitro cold brew coffee maker.
  2. Nitrogenate the coffee maker, then shake the keg well for roughly 20 seconds.
  3. Let stand for one hour.
  4. Pour fresh nitro cold brew from the maker into a tall glass, and enjoy!

To make nitro coffee in a whipped cream dispenser:

  1. Add cold brew to the whipped cream dispenser.
  2. Add the nitrogen cartridge and shake the dispenser vigorously for 30 seconds.
  3. Dispense nitro coffee into a tall glass and let rest for roughly 30 seconds to allow the foam to rise to the top. Enjoy!

As we mentioned above, since nitro cold brew is less acidic and less bitter, with a sweeter flavor and a rich and creamy texture, many prefer to enjoy it without additives. But, if you’re looking to take your nitro coffee to the next level, give these recipes a try: one for your sweet tooth, and one to optimize your health.

Nitro Affogato

Perfect for a summertime treat, beat the heat with nitro coffee and everyone’s favorite treat, ice cream!

Using your preferred method from the nitro coffee how-to information above, prepare your nitro coffee prior to assembling this delicious, decadent, dessert.


- 1 large scoop vanilla bean ice cream
- Caramel sauce, for topping
- Nitro cold brewed coffee


- Add ice cream to a glass. *You can sub out the vanilla for any flavor of your choice.
- Pour nitro coffee over ice cream. **Typically an affogato is served with 1 shot of freshly pulled espresso, so you don’t want to overdo it with the nitro coffee. And, you don’t have to measure, as you’ll want to pour the nitro over the ice cream fresh from the nitro maker or whipped cream dispenser for the best effect. Just seek to add coffee until the scoop is almost covered.
- Drizzle with caramel sauce, and enjoy with a spoon or slowly sipped!

Creamy Cinnilla Coffee

If you’re looking to add a little something extra to your nitro coffee without compromising your health, give this recipe a try, which incorporates antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory vanilla and equally healthy antioxidant-rich cinnamon.

Here, you’ll add the vanilla to your cold brew making process by simply splitting half of a vanilla bean lengthwise and placing this either in your french press or cold brew maker with the coarsely ground coffee.

When it’s time to transfer your cold brew to a pitcher or jar, simply strain out the vanilla bean with the coffee grounds.

Or, if you’d prefer, you can also add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract to 16 ounces of cold brew concentrate. Let this infuse for several hours (or overnight) for best flavor.


- Vanilla-infused nitro cold brew coffee (roughly 8-10 ounces)
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1-2 drops liquid stevia
- ½ teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon


- Add coconut milk and stevia to a tall glass.
- Pour nitro coffee over the coconut milk from your nitro coffee dispenser or whipped cream dispenser until the glass is almost full (leaving room for the nitro coffee foam to form on top).
- Dust foam with cinnamon, and enjoy!

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast.


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