Cold brew is all the rage. There are an ever growing number of variations of this increasingly popular caffeinated beverage, with global sales now exceeding $1B annually and growing at an astronomical rate. But what’s the difference between cold brew and nitro cold brew? Even more perplexingly - why do some versions come with Pistachio Cream on top? Here we lay out the basic differences between cold brew and nitro cold brew, as well as explaining a few of the more nuanced differences of this chilled coffee concoction.
What is Cold Brew?
Cold brew coffee is generally made by adding cold or room temperature water to coarse ground coffee and letting it steep for 8 to 24 hours either in a fridge or at room temperature. The “slow and low” approach to coffee making results in a different taste from traditional hot brewed coffee, with lower acidity and more mild and mellow flavors often being described.
What is Nitro Cold Brew?
Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee that is infused with nitrogen gas. The infusion of nitrogen gas is usually introduced by putting it “on tap” and serving it from a keg just as you would beer. Nitrogen is actually used for certain beers as well, most famously Guinness. The addition of the nitrogen produces a creamy effect. The resulting coffee has many of the characteristics of regular cold brew with the added benefit of the nitrogen kick. It’s often described as “smooth” or “silky” due to the combination of the brewing and subsequent infusion processes.
What about Pistachio Cream?
The Starbucks Pistachio Cream Cold Brew is just one of a litany of new variations being introduced alongside the cold brew and nitro cold brew movement. The addition of these relatively new types of coffee appears to have sparked a wave of creativity and experimentation. Boundaries are being tested and redrawn, so there seems to be a greater willingness to tinker and test new things using these two newly popularized coffee categories.While it’s unclear if the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew will ever be as popular or enduring as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, it surely won’t be the last new variation of cold brewed coffee we’ve seen.
Cold Brew vs. Nitro Cold Brew - which is better?
As is true for much of life - in the choice of cold brew vs. nitro cold brew it’s really a matter of personal preference. Whether you swear by nitrogen infused cold brewed coffee, would rather skip the gaseous infusion, or just stick with a cup of good ol’ fashion drip brewed hot coffee, there’s no “right” answer for everyone. Variety is the spice of life, so with more variations of coffee readily accessible than perhaps at any other time in human history we’d encourage you to explore them all and find whichever preparation(s) best suits you.