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Coffee 101: Iced Coffee vs. Nitro Coffee

If you have bought coffee recently, you may have noticed coffee shops sporting a new drink: nitro coffee. So what exactly is it, and is it really that different from iced coffee? Let’s explore!

What is Iced Coffee?


When you think of iced coffee, it’s precisely what you would expect it to be! Iced coffee is usually a name for hot brewed coffee served with ice in a cup. However, the term “iced coffee” is a loose general term for how coffee is drunk. It refers to any type of coffee and ice mixture regardless of the kind of brewing method used.

Despite the simplicity of iced coffee, there are many different ways to make it. So which method is best for your coffee preferences? Let’s talk about the three ways you can make ice coffee.

The first method is the simplest way to make iced coffee and how many first started making theirs. All you need to do is brew your regular cup of coffee for this method. Once that is finished, you just pour it over ice to cool it down. However, one downside to this method is that the ice melting from the hot coffee can dilute the flavor.

A second method to easily make your iced coffee at home is using the flash brewed method. It is like the first method, but rather than brewing coffee first and then adding ice, you brew coffee directly over ice. With this method, the drops of coffee liquid are instantly cooled on ice. Similarly, the downside to this is potentially diluting the coffee if the ice melts. To prevent this, you can cut down on the amount of brewing water.

The last and most convenient option to making iced coffee at home is to use instant coffee. Unlike the other two methods, you can instantly create a great-tasting cup of iced coffee. In fact, with this method, you don't have to worry about diluting your drink as much. All you need to do is brew a cup of high-quality instant coffee with room temperature water and then pour it over ice. Then, just make sure to adjust the amount of instant coffee to your liking.

What is Nitro Coffee?


Now that we know what iced coffee is, what is nitro coffee? Nitro coffee is a type of concentrated cold brew that has been infused with nitrogen gas. So, essentially, it is a nitro cold brew coffee.

You might already be familiar with nitrogen gas in alcoholic beverages such as beer. However, nitrogen in coffee may seem like a weird combination. The nitro coffee was first created in 2013. Since then, it has spread to the rest of the United States and has become a mainstream drink. You can even find it in coffee shops and grocery stores today. So what is the cold brew process nitro coffee is made from?

Cold brew is a type of coffee that is made using a different kind of brewing process. So how is a cold brew made, and what makes it so unique? The most significant difference between cold brew and other ways to brew coffee is that it uses lukewarm or cold water rather than hot water. Using a lower water temperature to extract coffee grounds prevents some of the coffee soluble from dissolving. As a result, the cold brewing process creates a smoother, less acidic, slightly bitter, and sweet-tasting coffee. Additionally, cold brew coffee tends to have more caffeine than regular coffee.

What Does Nitro Do in Coffee?


What is the purpose of nitrogen fusion in cold brew coffee? Basically, the texture. Unlike in regular coffee, the tiny nitrogen bubbles help create a different texture in nitro coffee.

The tiny gas bubbles give the coffee a thicker and creamier texture. Just like the dense foam that forms on top of a glass of beer, the nitrogen also causes nitro coffee to develop that same dense foam. This foam or milky layer is called a “cascade” because it will sink from the top to the bottom of the glass. This is what contributes to the creamier and thicker texture of this coffee drink.

The addition of nitrogen to the cold brew process creates a coffee with higher sweetness and lower acidity. Due to this, nitro coffee can be great for those who prefer a less bitter coffee without milk or sugar.

Are Nitrogen Infused Drinks Safe?


The use of nitrogen drinks may seem foreign. So is it actually safe to use in drinks? While many drinks may not be labeled as “nitrogen-infused,” many drinks already use it. For instance, many of your favorite beers already use nitrogen gas.

Moreover, gasses such as carbon dioxide are widely used in beverages. This includes sodas and other types of carbonated sweet drinks. Nitrogen gas is just an alternative to carbon dioxide. Because it has smaller gas bubbles, using nitrogen creates a smoother and creamier texture.

What is the Difference Between Iced Coffee and Nitro Coffee?


So what are the most significant differences between iced coffee and nitro coffee? While they are both coffee-based, there are two main differences between the two.

First off, nitro coffee is made using a cold brew base. On the other hand, iced coffee is typically made from freshly brewed coffee or instant coffee. While iced coffee can be made using a cold brew concentrate, nitro coffee is not usually made with regular brewed coffee.

The second-largest difference between the two is the nitrogen gas! The use of nitrogen infusion in nitro coffee gives it a thicker and creamier texture. Additionally, when it is poured, it creates a dense foam layer on top. Contrastingly, iced coffee is a common liquid form with no foam layer on top. It is also served with ice cubes in it.

Both iced coffee and nitro coffee are great options for those who want a refreshing, caffeinated summer drink. If you are looking for a thicker, creamier type of coffee without dairy and sugar, nitro coffee can be an excellent choice for you! However, if you want a no-fuss coffee drink, iced coffee is simply the way to go.

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