In the years since its debut, nitro coffee has been popping up left and right in coffee shops and grocery stores alike.
This unique type of coffee is cold-brewed and infused with nitrogen gas to improve both its taste and texture. Unlike regular coffee, it’s served directly from the tap and is enjoyed cold rather than piping hot.
It’s often touted as superior to regular coffee, both in terms of taste and texture, as well as the health benefits it supplies.
This article looks at the key differences and similarities between nitro coffee and regular coffee.
Nitro coffee offers a thick and creamy texture that sets it apart from regular coffee.
Similar to other beverages, such as sparkling water or soda, nitro coffee is infused with small gas bubbles that alter the mouthfeel.
However, while these other beverages are produced using carbon dioxide, nitro coffee is infused with nitrogen.
This gives it a frothy, foam-like texture and a smooth mouthfeel that is often compared to beer.
For this reason, ingredients used to enhance the texture of regular coffee — such as milk or creamer — are typically not necessary in nitro coffee.
Summary Nitro coffee is infused with nitrogen, which gives it a foamy texture and smooth mouthfeel.
In addition to improving the texture and mouthfeel of your cup of coffee, the nitrogen used in nitro coffee also adds a hint of sweetness.
What’s more, coffee that is ground and brewed cold, such as nitro coffee, has been shown to have enhanced flavor and aroma ().
For many people, this effect makes nitro a good alternative to regular coffee, as it renders extra sugar unnecessary.
In fact, studies show that consuming high amounts of added sugar may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain kinds of cancer (, , ).
If you typically add sugar to your coffee, nitro coffee may be a good alternative to help you cut your sugar intake and avoid these adverse health effects.
Summary Nitro coffee has a sweeter taste than regular coffee and does not require added sugar, which can help cut down on calories. Diets high in sugar have been associated with heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
One of the major differences between nitro and regular coffee is their respective levels of acidity.
Many of the acids found in regular coffee appear only at higher temperatures of 195–205°F (90–96°C).
Therefore, brewing nitro coffee at a lower temperature can result in significantly less acidity than that of regular coffee ().
This mildness may be especially beneficial for some people, as the acids found in coffee can irritate your stomach and cause digestive problems.
The low number of acids also provides a unique taste and decreases the bitterness of nitro coffee.
However, cold-brewed coffee may have fewer beneficial compounds such as chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that supplies much of the acidity in regular coffee.
In fact, research shows that chlorogenic acid could have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties and may help prevent chronic disease ().
Summary Nitro coffee has a lower acidity than regular coffee, which can reduce your risk of stomach discomfort. However, it may also be lower in beneficial antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid.
Nitro coffee is made using a higher ratio of coffee grounds to water than regular coffee, which can kick up its caffeine content.
Some companies even claim that nitro coffee boasts upwards of 30% more caffeine per ounce (30 ml) than regular coffee, though levels may vary by manufacturer.
Caffeine has been linked to a variety of health benefits, with some research showing that caffeine intake is associated with increased metabolism, enhanced athletic performance and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (, , ).
That being said, the higher caffeine content of nitro coffee may not help everyone.
Not only is caffeine highly addictive, it can also cause side effects including anxiety, irregular heartbeat, headaches and high blood pressure (, ).
Some research suggests that certain people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and could be more likely to experience adverse effects due to genetic differences ().
Summary Nitro coffee has a higher caffeine content than regular coffee. While caffeine may offer some health benefits, it can also cause certain side effects in sensitive individuals.
When it comes down to it, the health benefits of regular and nitro coffee are pretty similar.
Both contain caffeine, antioxidants and a host of micronutrients — such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid — that are essential to your health ().
Plus, regular coffee is linked to a long list of other health benefits:
- Decreases depression: Drinking at least four cups of coffee per day may lower your risk of depression by up to 20% (, )
- Extends longevity: Coffee consumption has been linked to a 20–26% lower risk of death over a period of 18–24 years ().
- Reduces diabetes risk: Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a 30–35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes (, ).
- Protects against dementia: Increased caffeine intake could be linked to a lower risk of dementia, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (, ).
- Aids weight loss: Caffeine consumption has been shown to increase metabolism and bump up fat burning to enhance weight loss (, ).
Though the specific effects of nitro coffee have not been studied extensively, it’s made from the same ingredients as regular coffee and is likely to share a similar set of health attributes.
Summary Nitro coffee and regular coffee share the same ingredients and probably bestow similar health benefits. Coffee has been associated with many positive health effects, from increased metabolism to a lower risk of diabetes.
Nitro coffee is a popular choice among coffee lovers for its distinct taste and texture.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find and is often pricey — around $3–5 for a single cup.
While making true nitro coffee requires additional equipment to infuse the coffee with nitrogen, you can try making a batch of cold brew coffee at home for a similar taste and nutrient profile:
- Combine 4 ounces (57 grams) of coarsely ground coffee with about 4 cups (946 milliliters) of water. Then simply stir and refrigerate for 18–24 hours.
- After the coffee has finished steeping, pour it over a strainer and cheesecloth to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee concentrate.
- Transfer the beverage to a clean jar and enjoy.
You can adjust the amounts to make bigger batches and store the drink in the refrigerator for up to two weeks at a time.
Summary Though additional equipment is required to make true nitro coffee, you can easily make cold brew coffee at home using just a few ingredients.
Cold-brewed nitro coffee tastes sweeter and has a thicker and smoother texture than regular coffee.
What’s more, it’s less acidic and higher in caffeine.
However, when it comes to nutritional value and health benefits, such as weight loss and extended longevity, regular and nitro coffee are a close match.
Feel free to switch out your hot cup of coffee for a cold brew from time to time in order to take advantage of the unique flavor and texture that each has to offer.