Are you a nitro coffee keg nerd? Welcome! This post is for you!
Nitrogen is an inert gas that is colorless and odorless. It's infused into a keg of cold brew coffee to get a caffeinated drink called cold nitro brew.
It's an entirely new and unique experience for coffee lovers, and it's gaining immense popularity in the specialty coffee industry, leading to new business opportunities for coffee makers.
Some companies are even making unique machines to serve this exceptional type of cold brew coffee. You must be wondering why is nitro cold brew coffee so cool and fashionable among coffee lovers?
It is made by steeping coffee beans for 12-24 hours at room temperature to produce a cold brew coffee batch. Some even create coffee concentrates by increasing the amount of coffee they use. Learn more about that process here.
As the steeping process is so long, it gives a strong and sweet taste to concentrate.
When infused with nitro, it has a creamy and velvety taste. If you compare it to iced coffee, it is much smoother and less acidic.
However, before serving the coffee concentrate, it has to be diluted with water, cream, or milk. The dilution process increases the production of coffee two-fold. Many café owners have added cold brew to their menus to capitalize on this new market.
But how long can nitro brew last? Does it ever go bad? Well, it does! But it can live past around two weeks before going bad, provided that the environment is clean. If you don't use it within two weeks, it not only loses its taste but also becomes a home for bacteria and mold.
However, you can increase the shelf life of nitro brew coffee if it's canned. How? Because of high-pressure pasteurization!
There are many advantages of kegging cold brew:
- As a result of using nitro coffee keg, the cold brew coffee stays fresh for a longer time, perhaps weeks. We did a little experiment and tasted kegged coffee after two weeks. To our surprise, we barely found any difference in taste.
- It is quick. If you have a tap and a nitro coffee keg system installed, it will take mere seconds to serve tasty cold brew.
- With the increasing competition in the coffee market, this is a great way to keep up with the current trends and meet customer's needs.
What are the Types of Kegs Available?
Mini kegerators: These are self-pressurized, with a counter-top dispenser connected to a mini keg.
Full-size home kegerators: It is a residential draft dispenser that contains up to a full-size keg. It comes with a pressurized CO2 tank and coupler. It is typically in a free-standing style.
Commercial kegerators: They are similar to full-size home ones but designed for commercial purposes. They are either build for free-standing or under-counter installation.
Outdoor kegerators: As the name suggests, outdoor kegerators use heavy-duty materials meant to weather the elements. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures from 45° to 100° Fahrenheit.
The majority of kegerator compact systems come with a tap kit and some other parts needed to dispense nitrogen.
They include a tower with faucet, handles and hoses and a tank, coupler, and regulator.
What Attachments do I Need for Kegging Nitro Cold Brew?
From a relatively small investment, you can get a decent cold brew nitro keg setup. Here are the necessary equipment options and accessories that you will need.
Cold-brew system (Cost: $100)
It is inexpensive, simple, and effortless to use setup. It will allow you to produce 5 gallons of cold brew at a time.
Kegerator (Cost: $600-$1600)
Do you love having Nitro brew coffee? Then you must invest in a kegerator. It is a refrigerator, but for coffee kegs, including a tap on the top. It keeps Nitro cold brew coffee concentrate fresh for about six weeks, which is way higher than typical homemade nitro brew.
It doesn't use preservatives or additives; therefore, it always gives a real taste of the Nitro brew. There are many different brands available in store, offering a variety of qualities of the same product.
If you are going to purchase it in a restaurant, make sure to check NSF certifications.
You should be aware of the venting and cooling system. If you are planning to place it under the counter, then shop for the one that vents out the front of the unit.
Even though it is going to be more expensive, but it's worth the investment in a commercial setting. Also, pay attention to the interior height of the kegerator so you know if it can fit all of your nitro coffee kegs.
Stainless draft tower (Cost: $175)
A stainless draft tower will hold up to the acidity in coffee. Hence it's recommended to upgrade to a stainless steel tower for your kegerator.
The most common and popular nitro coffee keg for cold brew is a ball lock 5 gallon Cornelius keg. It's a tap system that can be unlocked to fill with a cold brew.
The soda industry has used kegs for years, so they're readily available reconditioned. On top of that, maintenance for a nitro coffee keg is minimal.
Nitro coffee kegs come in different styles and sizes for everyone's needs, whether you are a customer sitting at home or a coffee store owner selling multiple coffee kegs a day. In most cases, a keg will either have a metal strap handle or rubber top handles.
Regulator (Cost: $70)
The regulator links the airline to the Nitro coffee keg. Usually, a kegerator comes with a CO2 regulator, but that's not what you need for your nitrous setup.
You'll want a nitrogen regulator, preferably with a double gauge, so one gauge reads the nitrogen levels while others provide pressure.
Find a local supplier of nitrogen in your area. You can buy a tank and refill it, or you can swap tanks with the supplier by paying a deposit each time.
Accessories (Cost: $20)
A hose is required to bring air to the Nitro coffee kegs and liquid to the taps. In addition to the tube, you will need to buy some quick disconnect fittings that link to the keg.
Estimate your Floor Space
OK, so we know you are interested in buying a Nitro coffee kegerator. But the question is, do you have space for keeping it and where are you going to put it? A Nitro coffee kegerator is as big as a keg, so it will require a floor space of a minimum of 3 square feet (If you have multiple kegs system, then it will need even larger area).
Let's talk about height now. Most kegerators have a draft tower on the top that increases their height up to about 4 feet. To save you time and money, make sure that the setup fits in your designated space.
Space should be accessible too, because no one would be willing to carry a half-barrel keg up or down the stairs. Think about space before you shop for your kegerator.
As we are talking about the nitro coffee kegerator, it makes sense to talk about the keg. Before buying a keg, start considering these things.
Size and space! Think about how will you move the keg to your location? Is it too heavy? Will it fit in your kegerator or not?
Are you going to buy or DIY? Decide what kind of keg couplers to order and install. To tap from the goodness inside, you'll need different attachments based on the keg.
Maintenance and cleaning. If you don't keep your keg clean, it wouldn't taste the way it's supposed to be. You will waste your time and effort if you serve the coffee made out of a dirty setup. No one likes to swim in a dirty pool, so what makes you think that people will drink coffee made up of an unclean system.
What about maintenance?
Like all the other appliances, kegerators require maintenance and cleaning. If you want to maintain the quality of your draft, then clean draft lines and equipment regularly. If you're using it at home, then it's best to clean your hoses and equipment after every brew.
You not only need to clean the line leading from the keg to the valve but also the faucet itself. You will need to get a special line cleaner to ensure that tubing remains free of all the elements.
Make sure that you are not using hot water for cleaning because it will alter the shape of the lines. No cleaning solution should remain in the lines.
However, if you are using it for commercial purposes, then you need to follow state regulations. Are you thinking of shopping for kegerator cleaning materials? Click here to see all of the cleaning supplies and tools available to keep your kegerator clean.
How do you serve Nitro coffee?
Once you keg your cold brew coffee, now you have to think ways of serving it. There are mainly two ways of serving cold brew coffee.
Serving cold brew (Still)
Serving cold brew from a keg is very easy, requiring two things only. You'll need a tap setup and coffee kegs. All you have to do is pour and go! Simply adjust the pouring pressure to 5-10 psi to minimize the nitrogen infusion.
The nitrogen will keep the cold brew fresh in the keg while helping to push the cold brew out of the tap.
Like traditional iced coffee, you'll want to serve it over ice.
Serving Nitro cold brew (Infused)
This method is a little more technical, but the end product provides a unique experience to consumers. In addition to the above equipment, you will need two more pieces.
- A stainless steel, stout faucet that helps pour the coffee in cascade style with the creamy texture.
- A device for infusing the nitrogen into the coffee.
Nitro Coffee Keg Lid (Price $50):
The Nitro coffee keg lid is the cheapest, but also the least effective way of infusing nitrogen into cold brew. While the nitro coffee keg lid does replace a standard ball lock lid, the results are pretty inconsistent.
It sends down nitrogen to the bottom of the keg to blend with the cold brew coffee. All you need to do is keg your cold brew coffee, adjust the regulator to 40 PSI, and fill it with nitrogen using the nitro infuser in the lid. Sounds easy, right?
Another downside, especially if you are burning through your nitro coffee keg quickly, is that sometimes the keg takes an entire day to infuse.
To help promote the infusion, you can manually shake the keg, but they can be hefty, so only try this step if you have a lot of upper body strength.
If you are new to nitro cold brew coffee phenomena and don't want to invest in high-end equipment, this is a great place to start with a smaller investment.
Nitro Infusers (Price: $585 and up) - In recent months, there has been a lot of development in cold brew nitro technology. The main goal is to take the inconsistency out and deliver a creamy textured cold brew coffee.
Joe Tap was one of the pioneers in the market, and they offer several different products, including coffee kegs. Their dual infusion tower allows you to pour both infused and still nitro from a single keg.
Their website is not updated, so you will have to call or email them for more information about kegs and pricing ($850 and up). You can also check out The Nitro Infuser from Enhanced Beverage Solutions. They have also produced excellent results.
Customers seem pretty satisfied with their nitro coffee keg as well. You can select nitro coffee kegs of different sizes from any of these known brands. You can check the attached links in this blog for more information about nitro coffee keg.
The infused cold brew is generally served without ice and in a smaller portion, but this is totally up to a particular cafe. Cup sizes also play a factor when it comes to pricing.
Can I use a beer stout kegging system for nitro cold brew?
Yes, you can! But coffee lovers ask us all the time about what gases they should use for serving nitro coffee on draft with. Pure nitrogen, or "beer gas?"
Beer gas is a mixture of nitrogen and CO2, designed to serve nitrogenated beers out of a stout faucet. The nitrogen will infuse with liquid, while the CO2 provides the pressure through a stout faucet.
It seems like beer is an obvious choice to serve nitro cold brew coffee, right? But we prefer nitrogen for two reasons:
To simplify things, we will use the following terminology. Nitro coffee (served out a stout faucet at high pressure) and Flat or iced coffee on draft ( served out of a beer faucet)
- Unexpected Flavor and Texture: Introducing CO2 changes the flavor and mouthfeel of the coffee. It tastes slightly bitter and gives a sticky mouthful. It doesn't live up to expectations.
- Ease of Use: Some customers prefer to have both nitro coffee and flat or iced coffee on draft. So with the help of a dual body keg regulator, you can use one attachment for both coffees. The regulator can control the pressure to multiple kegs; hence there is no need for two separate tanks. So if you are serving both nitro coffee and iced coffee on draft, your only option is to use nitrogen. With iced coffee, you will barely notice any hint of carbonation as it should remain flat. However, with beer gas, carbonation will be prominent even after a day or two.
If you decide to use nitrogen, you won't have to worry about any carbonation or flavor changes.
Overall, it's better to use 100% nitrogen when serving cold brew coffee. You will be able to enjoy creamy, flavorful cold brew coffee without compromising the mouthfeel.
Keep your nitro coffee keg nice and cold. Ideally set the kegerator temperature between 38-40 degrees. It is suggested by Keg Outlet to keep your nitro coffee under pressure for a more extended period.
They leave their nitro coffee kegs in refrigerated temperatures at 33-35 psi for 1-2 days before serving.
What is the smallest nitro kegging option available?
Nitrogen infused cold brew is getting very popular in the coffee industry. But you either need to get it on the tap or purchase a can at the grocery store.
Although it seems very convenient, it comes at a high price. So what is the easy solution? Buy uKeg Nitro! It is the first fully-integrated, at-home nitro cold brew coffee maker and dispenser. It will reduce your cost from $4 to $6 per pint to $1.50 per pint.
Nitro cold brew is made by uKeg nitro in 12-24 hours. It uses biodegradable bags, which makes preparation and clean up super easy. You can get the same cascading pour from uKeg nitro that you get from costly draft systems in coffee shops.
It has specialized nitro style tap and nitro cartridges that help create cascading pour. The cold brew will remain fresh for two weeks because of the vessel's pressurization system. You can enjoy nitro cold brew anywhere anytime.
The Best Cold Brew Nitro Coffee Kegs Available
- 5 Gallon Nitro Coffee Keg - Dual Rubber Handle
- NitroNow Single Tap Nitro Infused Draft Tower - Nitro Coffee On-Demand (single handle, rubber top)
- Nitro Coffee Nitrogen Infusion Keg Lid with 0.5 Micron Diffusion Stone, Beverage Elements (single handle, rubber top)
- New 5 Gallon Cold Brew and Nitro Coffee Keg, Beverage Element (single handle, Rubber boot bottom)
- Nitro Coffee Keg / Organic Guatemala Light Roast / 5.16 Gallon Full Keg (single handle, rubber top)
- Nitro Coffee Nitrogen Infusion Keg Lid with 0.5 Micron Diffusion Stone, Beverage Elements
- 2.5 Gallon Nitro Coffee Keg (AEB) (single handle, rubber top)
- 1.75 Gallon Mini Nitro Keg System, New Keg
- Cold Brew & Nitro Coffee Keg - 3 Gallon