The Rise of Nitrogen Infused Beer and Coffee

Coffee and beer are both beloved around the world, but not many have thought to associate the pair with one another. This has started to change in the past few years. Inventive coffee professionals have joined forces and even shared technologies in order to create a better product. Coffee has also become an increasingly popular ingredient in stout beers, giving them a unique body and flavor. However, the most notable joint development is the rise of nitro (nitrogen) infused coffee and beer. The concept was originally pioneered in part by the famed Irish brewery Guinness, and others (particularly craft breweries) started to follow their lead quickly. Coffee houses have entered the game recently, applying the science to whipping up an entirely new type of iced coffee.

The Origin of Nitrogen Infused Beverages


The origin of the theory of nitrogen infused beer can be traced back to the early 1930’s when Guinness filed a patent for a nitrogen dispensing keg. Although no immediate results occcured, a few decades of diligence would eventually lead to success. In 1964, Guinness introduced their first nitrogen stout in bottles. A draft version came later in the 1980s. In order to serve nitro beer, you need a specialized system and faucet to mix the gas into the beer. A nitro faucet forces the beer through a plate with tiny holes, snapping the nitrogen out of the beer and creating countless tiny bubbles. The resulting beer possesses a complex creaminess and smoothness, unlike any other type of beer. Nitro beer has been expanded quickly in its relatively short lifetime. Left Hand Brewing’s Nitro Milk Stout has been a booming success. Other breweries like Sierra Nevada, Sixpoint Brewery, Sly Fox Beer, and Yards Brewing Company have also created their own nitro beers. The Boston Beer Company- the manufacturers of Samuel Adams beers- expects nitro beers to play a significant role in their company’s future, starting with the release of four different canned nitro beers in February of 2016.

Coffee Consumption and Trends


Recent polls have indicated that around 83% of American adults drink coffee. A significant portion of those consume the beverage every day. Which confirms the legitimacy of the common joking expression, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee”. The popularity of coffee has only continued to grow over the past few decades. It wasn’t so long ago that many Americans were quite unfamiliar with the idea a hazelnut cappuccino, a vanilla latte, or a caramel macchiato. It wasn't too long before major coffee companies burst onto the scene and became part of the mainstream fast food/beverage world. Then suddenly, coffee and espresso drinks became the refreshment of the future. A notable emerging trend at present is the rise of chilled coffee and espresso beverages as a refreshingly cold summertime alternative to the traditional hot variety. Baristas have been experimenting with methods of cold brewing to concoct an entirely new product. Portland-based Stumptown Coffee is turning heads and creating lots of chatter with their critically acclaimed Nitro cold brew formula.

Inventing Nitro Coffee 


A precursor to the breakthrough at Stumptown took place a few years ago at a coffee bar called The Queens Kickshaw in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. The owner of the business and one of his employees were installing a keg-draft system, and they realized the need to join the iced-coffee trend. They devised a technique to pull iced coffee from the draft and the results were impressive. Stumptown took the concept to the next level, infusing nitrogen gas through the draft tap. A similar theory had already been applied to some beers, namely stouts (Guinness), but not coffee. The addition of nitrogen to coffee created a uniquely silky and creamy quality to the drink, much like that of a stout beer. It became an instant hit. Restaurants all over Portland wanted to strike a deal with Stumptown so that they could offer the beverage themselves. The fame quickly spread across the continent to New York, where Stumptown shipped countless kegs of the nitro cold brew to coffee shops on the East Coast. It’s served fresh from the tap and without ice (to avoud diloution). The nitrous chilled coffee is particularly well-suited for people that prefer their coffee black. Yes, coffee can be good without cream and sugar. 

Food and Beverage Science Matters

The rise of nitro beer and coffee is yet another indication of the unceasingly important role of science in the food and beverage industry. After all, cooking is merely the science of preparing food; using precise formulas to combine different ingredients {chemical compounds} with one another. Applying modern science to the culinary world seems to be increasingly promising. A few centuries ago, infusing beer and coffee with nitrogen probably would’ve seemed like an outlandish idea, but in due time people realized that it allowed teh creation of a tasty beverage bursting with ingenuity and delightful flavor.