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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.
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 (1).
For many people, this effect makes nitro a good alternative to regular coffee, as it renders extra sugar unnecessary.
Not only can added sugar increase the calorie content of your coffee and potentially lead to weight gain, eating too much sugar has also been associated with a slew of long-term health problems.
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 (2, 3, 4).
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.
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 (5).
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 (6).
Higher in Caffeine
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 (7, 8, 9).
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 (10, 11).
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 (12).