What is nitro cold brew?
Nitro cold brew is a type of cold brew coffee that has been infused with nitrogen gas. This gives it a smooth, creamy texture similar to a stout beer. The nitrogen bubbles also help to amplify the natural sweetness of the coffee.
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee in room temperature or cold water for 12-24 hours. This long steeping time extracts the flavors and caffeine from the beans without adding the acidity that you get from hot coffee brewing methods like drip or French press. The cold brew concentrate is then diluted with water or milk.
Nitro cold brew takes this process one step further by infusing the finished cold brew concentrate with nitrogen gas under high pressure. This is done using a special piece of taps equipment known as a nitro tap, nitro infuser, or nitro coffee tap. As the nitrogen-infused coffee flows out of the tap, the release of pressure causes the formation of tiny nitrogen bubbles, creating a cascading, foamy texture.
What are the proposed health benefits of nitro cold brew?
There are a few key health benefits that nitro cold brew is claimed to have over regular cold brew:
Higher antioxidant content – Some sources claim that nitro cold brew has a higher level of antioxidants than regular cold brew. This is because the nitrogen bubbles supposedly help to better extract beneficial compounds like polyphenols from the coffee beans. However, there is limited scientific research specifically comparing the antioxidant content of nitro versus regular cold brew.
Lower acidity – The cold brew process itself produces coffee with less acidity than hot brew methods. Proponents of nitro cold brew claim that the addition of nitrogen further mellows out and reduces acidity. This makes it gentler on the digestive system. However, there is little objective data comparing the pH levels of the two types of cold brew.
Easier digestion – Again, the reduced acidity of cold brew versus hot coffee is said to make it easier on digestion. The creamy, smooth texture of nitro cold brew may also give it more “body” which could aid digestion. But human clinical studies are needed.
Energy boost – With its high coffee content, nitro cold brew provides a concentrated dose of caffeine. An 8-oz serving can contain 200-300mg caffeine, so it provides an energizing kick. However, the caffeine content is comparable to regular cold brew.
Hydration – The water content can help with hydration, especially when consumed in lieu of diuretic beverages like alcohol or sugary energy drinks. But regular cold brew is likely just as hydrating.
So in summary, nitro cold brew is claimed to be healthier based on its higher antioxidant content, lower acidity, smoother mouthfeel, and hydrating properties. But there is limited concrete scientific evidence so far to support most of these theories.
What does the research say about the health effects of nitro cold brew?
Unfortunately, there has been very little scientific research specifically looking at the health impacts of consuming nitro cold brew coffee.
A 2021 study published in Foods was one of the first to analyze the physicochemical properties of nitro cold brew versus normal cold brew . It found that nitro cold brew did have a more intense aroma and smoother mouthfeel due to the presence of nitrogen bubbles. However, there were no major differences in pH, total acidity, antioxidant activity, caffeine content, or total polyphenols between the two drinks.
Another small study in the Journal of Food Science compared the chemistry and sensory characteristics of stout beer versus nitro cold brew coffee . It found some differences in volatile compounds which influenced flavor perception. But again, there were no significant differences in pH or Total Dissolved Solids between stout beer and nitro cold brew.
Overall, there is no rigorous data yet comparing the health effects or nutritional content of nitro versus regular cold brew. More controlled human studies are needed to determine if nitro-infused coffee has unique benefits for antioxidant levels, digestion, hydration, or energy. But so far, there is little evidence of a major nutritional difference between the two drinks.
Are there any potential downsides to drinking nitro cold brew?
While lacking in proven benefits, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind with nitro cold brew:
High caffeine content – With up to 300mg per serving, the caffeine content of nitro cold brew is quite high. This much caffeine can cause side effects like anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, and restless leg syndrome in caffeine-sensitive individuals. It may also exacerbate heart conditions.
Masking alcohol intoxication – Nitro cold brew has a similar smooth, creamy mouthfeel to stout beers. The nitrogen bubbles give it an alcohol-like quality. This could potentially lead people to underestimate their level of intoxication if consuming nitro coffee plus alcohol.
Added sugar – Some nitro cold brews have sweeteners like vanilla, chocolate, or actual sugar added to enhance the natural sweetness. Added sugars provide empty calories and should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
Tap hygiene – Due to the specialized equipment involved, poor hygiene practices could lead to bacterial contamination of nitro cold brew taps. Proper daily cleaning protocols need to be followed.
Acidity with sensitive teeth – While less acidic than hot coffee, cold brew still contains acids that can degrade tooth enamel and irritate sensitive teeth. The nitrogen bubbles may accentuate this effect.
Cost – Nitro cold brew typically costs $1-3 more per serving than regular cold brew. While not exorbitant, the higher cost should be considered given the lack of proven added health benefits.
So while not very serious, these factors should be weighed – especially by those sensitive to caffeine or added sugars.
Who may want to avoid or limit nitro cold brew?
Based on the above, here are some groups who may want to exercise caution or restraint with nitro cold brew consumption:
– Pregnant women – Due to the high caffeine content.
– Those with heart conditions – Caffeine can exacerbate issues like arrhythmias.
– People with anxiety issues – Caffeine may induce or worsen anxiety.
– Children/adolescents – Their smaller body size amplifies caffeine effects.
– Insomniacs – Caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns.
– People with acid reflux – The nitrogen bubbles could aggravate symptoms.
– Those with sensitive teeth – Even cold brew still contains low acidity.
– People taking certain medications – Caffeine can interact with some drugs.
– Individuals monitoring blood sugar – Sugar-sweetened nitro brews impact blood glucose.
– Those with lactose intolerance – Some opt to add dairy to nitro cold brew.
This is not to say these groups need to completely avoid nitro cold brew. But they should be aware of the higher caffeine content, potential acidity issues, and added sugar in some recipes. Moderation and close monitoring of personal tolerance and reactions is advised.
Is nitro cold brew healthier than other caffeinated beverages?
Compared to other caffeinated drink options, nitro cold brew is likely a healthier choice in several regards:
Less sugar than energy drinks – Beverages like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar can contain 30-60g of added sugar per serving. Nitro brew has minimal natural sugar and no additions beyond any small amounts of sweetener or dairy.
Higher quality caffeine source – Coffee beans provide caffeine along with polyphenols and antioxidants. Energy drinks generally use synthetic caffeine.
Lower calorie than sweet coffee drinks – A 16oz Starbucks Caramel Macchiato has 340 calories. The same amount of black nitro cold brew has just 10-15 calories.
More natural than pre-made caffeine drinks – Pre-bottled coffee and tea drinks often have preservatives, thickeners, and other artificial ingredients. Nitro cold brew at a cafe has just coffee beans, water, and nitrogen.
No mix of stimulants – Unlike energy drinks, nitro cold brew relies on caffeine only for its stimulating effect. The combination of caffeine, taurine, B vitamins and other stimulants in energy drinks may have synergistic side effects.
So while caffeine intake should still be moderated, nitro cold brew is likely one of the healthier caffeinated options, especially when avoiding added sweeteners.
What is the consensus on the health effects of nitro cold brew?
The current consensus among experts seems to be:
– Nitro cold brew provides no clear nutritional advantages over regular cold brew in areas like acidity, antioxidant content, digestion, or hydration. More research is needed to evaluate potential differences.
– There are no major health concerns associated with nitro cold brew, aside from the usual considerations with caffeine, added sugar, and food hygiene.
– Nitro cold brew is likely a healthier caffeinated beverage option than energy drinks, soda, and sugar-laden coffee drinks due to its minimal ingredients.
– As with any caffeinated beverage, individuals should take into account their personal risk factors and sensitivities when considering daily nitro cold brew intake. Moderation is advised, especially for at-risk groups.
So in summary, nitro cold brew is not considered significantly healthier than regular cold brew at this time, but is still likely a better caffeinated option than many alternatives. But more human research on its precise health effects would help clarify its profile.
How much nitro cold brew can you drink in a day?
There are no official guidelines for how many daily servings of nitro cold brew a healthy adult can safely consume. Factors like age, medication use, and caffeine sensitivity determine personal limits. But here are some general suggestions based on caffeine amounts:
– 16oz serving = 200-300mg caffeine
– 24oz serving = 300-450mg caffeine
– Healthy adults: 2-3 servings, or up to 400mg caffeine daily
– Pregnant women: 1 serving, or up to 200mg caffeine daily
– Children/teens: 1 serving or less, depending on age/weight
Consumed alongside other caffeinated foods/drinks, total daily caffeine intake should not exceed 400mg for healthy adults or 200mg for pregnant women.
Those sensitive to caffeine may want to limit intake to 1 nitro cold brew per day. Given the high caffeine content in a single serving, nitro cold brew intake should be spaced out and stopped before late afternoon to prevent sleep disruption.
Bottom line – 1-2 servings spaced out through the first half of the day is a moderate amount of daily nitro cold brew for most healthy adults. Larger amounts may lead to side effects or sleep issues. Those with medical conditions or taking medication should consult their doctor.
Should you drink nitro cold brew every day?
Daily nitro cold brew may be fine for healthy adults who tolerate caffeine well. Potential benefits of daily consumption include:
– Maintained energy, focus and alertness
– Consistent bowel motility from caffeine
– Lower calorie substitute for higher-sugar coffees
– Sources of hydration and antioxidants
However, daily intake comes with some drawbacks:
– Can lead to physical caffeine dependence
– Possibly disrupted sleep cycles if drinking late
– Potential long-term impacts on cardiovascular health from excess caffeine
– Desensitization of caffeine’s effects from consistent exposure
– Inconsistent caffeine consumption on non-drinking days may lead to withdrawal side effects
As with any caffeinated drink, the recommendation for nitro cold brew is to:
– Limit intake to 2-3 days per week if drinking 1-2 servings daily on those days
– Consume earlier in the day to prevent sleep issues
– Cycle daily intake with non-drinking days to avoid dependence/withdrawal
– Substitute with decaf or herbal teas on off days
So while nitro cold brew is safe for daily consumption for most, cycling intake avoids long-term issues like dependence, sleep disruption, and potential health impacts. Moderation and listening to your body’s cues is key.
What are the best ways to make nitro cold brew healthier?
If you enjoy nitro cold brew, here are some simple ways to enhance its nutritional profile:
– Choose low-acidity beans like Honduras or Guatemala – Less acidity is gentler on teeth and digestion.
– Use dairy alternatives like nut milks or coconut milk – They reduce calories, sugar, and fat versus cream.
– Skip added sugars or flavorings – Sweeten with stevia or monk fruit instead.
– Opt for a medium or light roast – They contain more antioxidants than dark roasts.
– Dilute with water if caffeine sensitive – Lowers the dose while preserving flavor.
– Consume alongside food – This helps moderate caffeine absorption.
– Avoid drinking past early afternoon – Prevents interference with sleep.
– Don’t let it replace water – Hydrate with regular water as well through the day.
– Select organic beans when possible – Reduces pesticide exposure.
With good brewing practices and some mindful tweaks, you can maximize the nutritional bang from your daily nitro cold brew. But overall, consumed in moderation, nitro cold brew can be part of a healthy, balanced diet for most individuals.
The Bottom Line
Nitro cold brew offers no major proven health advantages over regular cold brew coffee at this time based on limited research. But it does provide a more nutritious caffeinated beverage option than many high-sugar energy drinks and coffeehouse drinks.
Moderate intake spaced throughout the earlier part of the day is unlikely to cause issues for most healthy adults. While generally safe for daily use, cycling between drinking days and non-drinking days helps avoid caffeine dependence and disruption of natural sleep patterns.
Pregnant women, those with heart conditions, and other caffeine-sensitive individuals should limit or avoid use based on personal tolerance. Nitro cold brew is not recommended for children or adolescents due to its very high caffeine content per serving.
Selection of low-acidity beans, reduced sugar additions, and avoidance of late-day consumption can further elevate the health profile of nitro cold brew. But as with any caffeinated beverage, moderation and self-awareness of your personal reactions is key – regardless of the nitrogen content.
Overall, nitro cold brew can be part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle when consumed judiciously by most healthy adults. But there is no need to feel compelled to switch from regular cold brew to nitro cold brew solely for presumed health benefits. Listen to your body, adjust intake accordingly, and enjoy nitro cold brew in moderation as you would any caffeinated drink.