My friends call us hipsters, our families call us weird, but my husband Adam and I prefer the title “Coffee Snobs”. We drink coffee. A lot of coffee. Maybe in less quantities now than we did while we were both in graduate school, but definitely in a larger variety of ways. We currently have a standard drip coffee maker, a french press, a pour-over, an espresso machine (with milk frother), a cold brew maker, and (our personal favorite) a whipped cream canister we have started making nitro-brewed coffee with.
Our love affair with nitro cold brew coffee came from Starbucks’ promotions this summer. We found ourselves spending over $150 a month getting ourselves each a grande nitro-brew with sweet creme almost every other day. We realized we either needed to cut back completely or learn how to make it ourselves, and as self proclaimed “coffee snobs”, we decided to do some research.
Ronnoco actually has a great mini history to the nitro brewed coffee and how it was first created in 2013 by Nate Armburst, a food scientist in Portland, OR. The concept is simple, infusing nitrogen gas (N2O) into coffee for a thicker, smoother drink. It also reduces the acidity of the coffee and has a natural sweetness with no added milk or sugar. Generally the process is viewed as fairly expensive, considering the added cost of nitrogen canisters and the extra steps involved in brewing; especially since you will want to use cold-brewed coffee in this process. We started to ask ourselves what it would look like on a more individual level, and if making it for only 2 people would be worth it or crazy expensive.
The answer is, it is so worth it to nitro brew at home. This past month we have saved so much money doing it ourselves now that we know how. To start, we looked for a stainless steel whipped cream dispenser canister that could hold at least 1 pint at a time. This way we knew that we could fill a full coffee tumbler for work in one go. We also bought a pack of 50 N2O Cream Chargers to go with the whipped cream canister. To really get into it, we also bought a cold brew coffee maker.
Now for the “how”. You will want to start with cold brew coffee, so follow the instructions on your cold-brewer for this part. We typically add in coffee grounds to the cold brew coffee maker, and let that sit for 12-24 hours at room temperature before we plan to drink coffee (so the morning or night before). We have found that using a course/french press grind does a better job of keeping sediment from being in the coffee.
Once you have your cold-brewed coffee, it’s go-time. We follow the recommended instructions to put the cold coffee into the whipped cream canister, screw the lid onto the main base of the canister, and crack the N2O cream charger into the lid of the canister, which is so satisfying. Then we simply invert the canister, and spray the coffee out of the nozzle into our cup or tumbler. I have found that adding a sweet creme flavored creamer (or any creamer of your choice) to the bottom of the cup/tumbler and dispensing the coffee over it has given it the exact “starbucks” flavor I was going for; but you can also add it in afterwards. The longer the coffee sits the more it loses the bubbles (like a soda going flat) that make it smoother, so enjoying it promptly is highly recommended. Be careful when unscrewing the canister lid, you should release all of the remaining N2O before doing so, preferably over the sink since a small amount of remaining coffee may still spray out.
While the start up fee was approximately $105 ($15 for our favorite coffee beans to grind, $27 for cold brew coffee maker, $27 for whipped cream canister, $30 for a 50 pack of N2O cream chargers, $3 for coffee creamer) it still saved us almost $50 the first month having it. Comparatively, it costs us around $1.50 per person for every home use, versus the Starbucks cost of $3.95 per drink. The amount of money we have been saving by doing it at home is crazy, and we’ve also loved how easy it is to just have iced coffee at home in general, even without nitro brewing it. Plus whenever I make cakes now, I can easily make great homemade whipped cream!
For more information behind why Nitro Cold Brew Coffee has truly boomed in the U.S., check out: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/what-is-nitro-cold-brew-coffee-trend.
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
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