Is Nitro Cold Brew a true Specialty Drink? – Black River Roasters


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Is Nitro Cold Brew a true Specialty Drink?

What is a true specialty coffee drink? What makes it different from a “regular” coffee drink. 

It’s our thought that specialty coffee starts at the origin. Farms producing high-quality Arabica coffee is what makes specialty coffee “specialty.”

The way a farm processes the coffee is also important. You can read our blog posts about the myriad ways to process coffee in our blog post here. Finally, after exporting/importing, the green beans finally arrived at the location where they will be roasted and brewed. At our cafe, we make coffee the traditional way with no flavors or additives. We highlight the natural characteristics of the bean through our roasting and brewing methods and that is it! You are probably aware of the different methods of brewing coffee from espresso, drip coffee, pour overs, and cold brew. The topic of today’s blog post: Nitro cold brew.

Nitro is, at its core, cold brew. And cold brew is highly debated as to whether or not it truly IS a specialty coffee drink. The cold brewing process strips away acidity which creates a lack of ability to discern complexity from one cold brew to the next, unlike hot brewed coffee. Terms like “acidity” and “complexity” are what specialty coffee aficionados continually use to grade and discern one coffee from the next. Without acidity or complexity, many high-brow specialty coffee lovers will staunchly declare that cold-brewed coffee is NOT a specialty coffee drink. But when you infuse cold brew with nitrogen you are left with this smooth, creamy coffee drink that has created quite a buzz (literally).

Nitro Cold Brew is the 4th dimension of coffee - a hybrid in a league of its own. But is it high quality?

That really depends. Recently on our way to pick up a coffee from our importer, Royal Coffee New York, we passed a gas station that advertised “Nitro Cold Brew On Tap!” Would you think that gas station cold brew is high-quality coffee? Even big-name, fast-food coffee shops are jumping on the trend. If everyone could buy a Stradivarius violin at any music shop, would it still stand above other violins?

It’s our conjecture that you can take the low scoring coffees, cold brew and infuse them with nitrogen, and you will still get an enjoyable, creamy coffee beverage. And this proves that Nitro Cold Brew is doing EXACTLY what its job is: to be a refreshing and unique caffeinated beverage. Customers are not looking for Nitro for its high-end complexity, and so, they are finding what they desire. It’s a paradox where both sides of the argument are true. No, it’s not technically a specialty coffee drink that could score on any Q grade, but paradoxically, the goal of specialty coffee is to be delicious. We see Nitro as sitting at the table with the other specialty coffee drinks and holding its own as being a highly enjoyable coffee drink that we will continue to serve and appreciate.